Remained in Kent

Among the Aldington Gang members that remained in Kent in 1826 (at least for a while) were some who escaped detection, some who were acquitted of the charges brought against them, and others who turned King’s Evidence.

Acquitted: Robert Bailey and Thomas Wheeler

Robert Bailey, brother of Samuel, Elizabeth and Rhoda, was 30 years old when he was arrested. He lived at Mersham with his wife Jane (nee Paine). Having only been charged with the murder of Morgan, and not with offences against the Revenue laws, Robert, together with Thomas Wheeler, was wholly acquitted.

Thomas Wheeler was a blacksmith at Folkestone. Like Robert Bailey, he had only been charged with the murder of Morgan, and not with offences against the Revenue laws, and so was wholly acquitted.

King’s Evidence: John Bushell, Edward Horne, Edward Pantry

John Bushell was the first of the Aldington Gang members to be captured after the death of Quartermaster Morgan. He was captured at Fort Moncrief on 6 August 1826, after being shot in the knee. Records of the Admiralty Law Agent state that ‘Bushell, having then undergone an amputation of the thigh, near the hip, he was reduced to such a state of danger as to be incapable of examination, and not having shown the least inclination to make any disclosure nothing could at the time be effected.’ However, Bushell ultimately proved a valuable witness for the prosecution, and received £100 reward for his evidence.

Edward Horne, known as Harry, and also known as Spratford, lived at Ruckinge. He was described as ‘a good looking young man’ and a labourer. Captured on 2 September 1826, near Walmer, he at first feigned imbecility but later escaped conviction and transportation by turning King’s Evidence. At the trial, he revealed he had known Ransley for nearly ten years and had met him, by appointment, at a public house at Lydden on the night Quartermaster Morgan was shot. Between fifty and sixty people had assembled, of whom somewhere between a dozen and sixteen had fire-arms. Horne carried a fowling-piece which belonged to Samuel Bailey.

Horne received £100 for the information he provided which led to warrants for the apprehension of many of the offenders and support for the charges brought against them.  You can read Horne’ evidence relating to the events of 11 March 1826,16 March 1826,11 May 182610 Jun 18269 July 1826 and 6 August 1826.

Apparently Horne was convicted of horse theft before his former smuggling companions embarked for Van Diemen’s Land.

Edward Pantry lived at Aldington. He was described as ‘a nice, steady, hard-working man, who always did a thing well, if he minded to do it, till he got in along with those smugglers’. Like Horne, Pantry turned King’s Evidence.

Also like Horne, he was arrested for theft, this time of sheep, within a year of the trial. Apparently he stole two sheep from a farm at Bonnington but was caught in the act by a smuggler who reported the theft to the farmer the following day. Arrested by Constable Stokes from ‘the Marsh’, Pantry was tried at Dymchurch and sentenced to transportation.

Edward’s mother, Catherine, was a Higgins, possibly related to Richard. His aunt, Sarah, is thought to have been the wife of Aldington Gang member, Samuel Bailey.


Sentenced to transportation

Fourteen members of the Aldington Gang, including their leader, George Ransley, were sentenced to death at the Maidstone Assizes of 12 January 1827.  However, their sentences were subsequently commuted to transportation for life, and on Monday 5 February, the men were removed from gaol and boarded prison hulks pending their transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.

Ransley, Wilson, Giles, Hogben, Quested and the Wire brothers boarded the Captivity at Portsmouth.  Denard, Gilham, Higgins, Pierce, Smeed and the Baileys boarded the York at Gosport.

The York Hulk, Portsmouth Harbour

With the exception of James Wilson, who died aboard the Captivity, the men sailed aboard the Governor Ready, arriving in Hobart Town in 1827.

The hulks

The story of Ralph Rashleigh provides a vivid picture of life on the convict hulk, Leviathan, as the following edited excerpts reveal.

… the cry of “Lags away” warned those who were transported that the time had now arrived for their removal to the hulk; and shortly afterwards those who … had been respited from death … were placed in two large vans, strongly ironed, handcuffed and chained together, as well as to the van, which drove off at a rapid rate. [After an overnight journey the van made the Portsmouth dockyard and the convicts] were permitted to alight on a wooden wharf, outside of which lay the gloomy bulk of the old Leviathan. 

This vessel, an ancient 74, after having for many years borne the victorious banner of Britain in every sea from pole to pole, was at last condemned to the vile purpose of a convict hulk.  …. In a few minutes the newly arrived criminals were paraded upon the quarterdeck of this old hooker, mustered, and received by the captain of the hulk, after which the irons they had brought with them were taken off and given back to the gaol authorities, who now departed. the convicts in the mean time were all marched to the forecastle and ushered into a washing-room, where each man was obliged to strip, get into a large tub of water, and cleanse himself thoroughly.  Each then received a suit of coarse grey clothing consisting of a jacket, waistcoat and breeches.  A very rough twilled cotton shirt, striped with blue and white, a round-crowned broad-brimmed felt hat, and a pair of heavily-nailed shoes completed this unique costume; and when they had been divested of their whiskers and got their hair closely cropped, the metamorphosis was … complete … Here, too, each man was double-ironed with a pair of heavy fetters, and after this they again emerged on deck, where a hammock and two blankets, with a straw bed, were supplied every new prisoner, and they were now ordered to go below.

They followed one of the guards down what seemed … an endless succession of step-ladders.  When they reached the bottom, a perfect chaos of sounds saluted their ears. The first glimpse of the lower deck of this convict hulk showed a long pasage bordered by iron palisading, with lamps hung at regular intervals.  Within these rows of palisades were wooden partitions, which subdivided the deck into upwards of a score of apartments.  In each of these about fifteen or twenty convicts slept and ate. 

The author (James Tucker) goes on to tell how the old chums played pranks on the new so that they ‘slept but little’ on their first night, waking to the stench of a wooden tub containing breakfast, a ‘food composed of a very coarse kind of barley boiled up with the soup made from the meat which was allowed to the convicts every alternate day. …The dietary of the hulk, exclusive of meat and barley soup, was, three days in each week, a portion of a mysterious semi-petrification, very much akin to chalk both in taste and durability.  Nay, it was even much harder; but by the courtesy of the contractors dubbed for the nonce cheese … ‘too big to swallow and too hard to bite’… For breakfast and supper, when meat was not allowed, each man received a pint of the barley before named, plain boiled in water… Besides the above articles, a pound of very black unpalatable bread formed the daily allowance of each man, with a pint of very bad vinegar, here dignified with the name of table beer.’

The whole of the convicts, save those employed on board in cleaning the hulk, cooking, and attending on the officers, were sent every morning to labour in the dockyard, where they were employed in large parties, most appropriately designated gangs, at various works. Ralph was placed in a timber gang, and was quickly yoked to a large truck with twenty others, each man having a broad hempen band or collar put over one shoulder and beneath the other arm, so that in pulling, his weight pressed against it across his breast.  Each gang was under the orders of a veteran sailor of the Royal Navy, some of whom were glad to repay upon the wretched convicts they tyranny with which they had been treated by their officers in former times, while others were more occupied in screwing out money from those under their charge, to enable them to pay frequent visits to the Tap where they solaced themselves with repeated libations of Heavy Wet.

Death on board the hulks

As mentioned above, Aldington gang smuggler, James Wilson was to die on board the Captivity and Ralph’s story also tells us about the rather unceremonious end of those unfortunate enough to end their days on board a hulk:

One day three of the patients died, and as deceased convicts were then usually buried in a graveyard near a number of ruined buildings on the Gosport side which were among the prisoners called ‘Rat’s Castle’, some of the convalescent patients … were selected to go there and dig the graves.  Accordingly, over the water they went, under the care of one of the old sailors … in a boat manned by the convicts. 

The soil was very light, and their task an easy one.  When it was done the guard made a signal by waving a handkerchief upon a stick.  While they were awaiting the return of their boat … [the convicts] lay or sat … among the nameless, shapeless grassy mounds which filled the convicts’ graveyard, each marking the narrow resting-place of one who had died degraded, forgotten and unknown, his last moments uncheered by the voice of affection or the soothing sympathies of kindred, and whose remains were scarcely cold ere he was hurried into the rude shell, hustled off in the boat, amid jokes or oaths, as the prevailing mood of the boatmen might be, and finally thrust in the ground, without a prayer, scarcely six inches below the surface of the earth.

The trial

The prisoners faced court again on 6 January 1827. In addition to the original line up of George Ransley, Thomas Dennard, Thomas Gilham, Robert Bailey, Samuel Bailey, Richard Wire, and Charles Giles those tried also included James Hogben, James Smeed, Thomas Wheeler and William Wire.

The indictment charged the prisoners with assembling with up to 80 people, armed with firearms, at the parish of St James the Apostle of the Port of Dover on 30 July 1827. Richard Wire was charged with ‘maliciously and feloniously’ shooting Richard Morgan, a person lawfully employed to prevent smuggling, inflicting three mortal wounds to his breast from which he languished for an hour before dieing. The other prisoners were charged with being present, aiding, assisting and comporting Richard Wire in the commission of the murder. All pleaded not guilty.

Following some discussion between the lawyers and Mr Justice Park, other untried prisoners were also brought to the bar: John Bailey, Richard Higgins, Paul Pierce and James Quested. They joined Samuel Bailey, Thomas Dennard, Thomas Gilham, George Ransley, James Smeed and J Wilson and were indicted for assembling with numerous other persons unknown on 16 March 1826 at New Romney, armed with fire arms, to aid and assist in the landing and running of uncustomed goods. They were also charged with willfully and maliciously shooting at customs officers Patrick Doyle and Cluryn Macarthy. Other counts, similar in substance, were also heard.

All the prisoners pleaded guilty. Their offences involved smuggling activities at Dymchurch on 10 May 1826 and involving the shooting of William Wynn; at Woolmer on 10 June involving the shooting of W H Brady; at Deal on 9 July and shooting at John Millings; at Hythe on 1 August and shooting at William Spillane.

At this point, the ten prisoners charged with Morgan’s murder were left at the bar and the Jury was impanelled. However, the Solicitor General stated that as the prisoners’ guilty pleas to the other charges would lead to the forfeiture of their lives he did not intend to present evidence on the murder charge. He could not say that their lives would be saved but they would have the benefit of his recommendation and would probably be transported for life. In this way, Robert Bailey and Thomas Wheeler, who had been indicted only for the murder and not for the other charges, were wholly acquitted.

Mr Justice Park then addressed the fourteen remaining prisoners before passing sentence of death.  The calendar stated that the prisoners were to be executed on 5 February but that it was not expected that any of them would suffer.

Kentish Chronicle

The following report is taken from The Kentish Chronicle of 12 January 1827.

The Trial of the Aldington Smugglers

[extract] … His Lordship said they had pleaded Guilty to an offence of a most heinous nature, the commission of which struck terror into every well disposed mind. They had assembled in numerous bodies to aid in the running of uncustomed goods, and in so doing, aiding, had fired upon persons who were only doing their duty. 

Perhaps from the darkness of the night, it might have been difficult to fix on the ten the crime of murder, but they had confessed being guilty of a very serious offence. Perhaps no human eye saw the hand that actually committed the murder and his Lordship doubted not that, in the decision of the Solicitor-General, he had exercised a sound discretion; but it was very manifest that he had dealt with the prisoners most humanely; for if any of them had been convicted of the murder they most certainly would have been executed on Monday next.

His Lordship disclaimed in any way a party to the course that had been adopted, for he should not feel himself warranted in recommending them to the mercy of the Sovereign, though the Solicitor-General had promised to do so and would doubtless keep his word.

Prisoners had admitted that they assembled in gangs of as many as 80 – a gang numerous enough to overawe the peaceable part of the community. These things could not be suffered to go on with impunity. He trusted that the present proceedings would have a proper effect and convince the offenders that the arm of the law was long enough, and sufficiently powerful to reach and punish even the most distant and desperate.

 It must be made known throughout the country, that if an offence of this nature were again committed, no mercy would be shewn to the offenders. His Lordship would now repeat what he had said to the Grand Jury, that if persons in the higher stations of life were not to purchase smuggled goods, there would be an end to smuggling; but many persons laboured under the delusion that defrauding the Revenue was no crime….

Committal proceedings

The Kentish Chronicle of 31 October 1826 reported on the committal trial of Aldington Gang members brought before Sir R Birnie and Mr Hall on the previous Friday, 27 October 1826.

The prosecution began its case by calling Michael Pickett, a seaman from Ramillies, who was employed in the preventive service on the Kent coast, and who had been present during the operation which resulted in quartermaster Morgan’s death on 30 July. His evidence provides the basis for much of the account of the events of that night. Pickett’s evidence, supported by quartermaster Peter Prendergast, was offered ‘in proof of the murder having been committed on the night in question, by a gang of smugglers’.

It was one of their own, an accomplice, who would provide the evidence that ‘some of the prisoners at the bar were present when that murder took place.’ Edward Horne, a labourer from Ruckinge, swore that he knew all the prisoners and that all but Giles had been with him on the night of the murder. He revealed that the party assembled at the Palm Trees at Wigmore and that the party managed to make off with seventy tubs of uncustomed spirits, and would have landed more had they not been interrupted by the blockade men.

Mr Platt, acting on behalf of the gang members, rose to cross-examine Horne, pointing out that at the very least his evidence failed to make any case at all against Charles Giles, as Horne admitted that he had not been with him that evening.

The prosecution then proposed to bring evidence against Giles for ‘being armed and near Dymchurch, on the coast of Kent, on the 11th of May last, when William Wynn was shot’.

William Wynn was then brought from the Tower to give evidence. Like Pickett, Wynn was a seaman aboard the Ramillies, employed to prevent smuggling. He provided an account of the events of 11th of May 1826, during which he was shot. Edward Horne was recalled to the stand to give his account of that evening. He revealed that Giles had been shot on that occasion and that he had lost his firearm (implying that it was the fowling piece recovered by Wynn). Officer Smith, who had arrested Giles on 17 October, stated that Giles had accounted for a wound on his neck by describing it as the effect of a blister.

Another Ramillies officer, William Spillane, was then called to prove a third case against the prisoners, relating the events of the evening of 6 August 1826. Giving his evidence with some difficulty, it was apparent that Spillane still suffered from the wounds allegedly inflicted by the smugglers on that August night. Lieutentant Johnson gave further evidence on the events of that evening, as did the informant, Horne.

Once the evidence had been given, the prisoners were committed to Newgate to take their trial for the murder of Morgan and on the separate charges of carrying arms on the Kent coast with a view to running smuggled goods.

Investigation and Arrest

On 1 August 1826, Customs House, London offered a reward of £500 to any one who discovered or caused to be discovered the smugglers involved in the death of Richard Morgan and the wounding of Richard Pickett.

It took some time before the offer brought any results – presumably the local inhabitants were too involved, otherwise sympathetic or perhaps too frightened to reveal what they knew. Eventually though, a member of the gang, Edward Horne, was captured and induced to inform on his colleagues.

On 1 August 1826 Customs House offered a £500 reward

Acting on his information, two Bow Street Runners were dispatched from London to Hythe to set up headquarters. They interviewed customs officers and naval officers from HMS Ramilles, and they paid undercover visits to the Walnut Inn.

Their investigations were lead to a major operation in the early morning of Tuesday 17 October 1826 which resulted in the first arrests in the case. A force of around 120 armed Preventive Service officers marched towards Aldington from the coast. They killed a number of dogs with their cutlasses to prevent them raising the alarm, but they were spotted by a woman looking from an upstairs window who called a warning ‘Warhawk’ to those inside.

Seeing the strength of the opposition, George Ransley surrendered without resistance and he and seven others – Thomas Gilham, Charles Giles, Robert and Samuel Bailey, Thomas Dennard and Richard and William Wire – were arrested and marched in handcuffs to Fort Moncrieff where they were embarked on a naval vessel which took them to Deptford via the coast to forestall rescue attempts.

On arrival in London they were questioned individually before being sent on remand to the House of Correction. All, except Giles, had been incriminated on Horne’s evidence.

About a fortnight later, Richard Higgins, Paul Pierce, John Bailey and Edward Pantry were arrested. Before the case was opened, Pantry asked and was allowed to turn King’s Evidence. The other four were committed to go to trial with the gang members arrested earlier. Also arrested were James Hogben, James Smeed, Thomas Wheeler and William Wire.

Kentish Chronicle articles

The following articles appeared in The Kentish Chronicle:

The Kentish Chronicle – 10 October 1826

Dover, October 18th: – Murder of Morgan

This morning intelligence was brought to Town that one of the party concerned in the murder of Morgan, of the Coast Blockade, who, a short time ago, was shot by a band of smugglers, in front of The Marine Parade, had made disclosures implicating, some reports say twenty, others thirty, in the barbarous action; but it is certain that eight persons are now in custody on his information. A reward of £1000 was offered for their apprehension at the time and a reward is said to have prompted the informer, an inhabitant of Deal, to come forward voluntarily and give information, as, up to this time, the slightest clue to discover the perpetrators could never be obtained.

The Kentish Chronicle – 20 October 1826

Canterbury, October 20th

A considerable party of armed seamen was landed from two vessels in Dymchurch Bay, in the night of Monday last, accompanied by their officers and (we are informed) a smuggler who been previously taken by the Coastal Blockade, and who has given important information relative in the “Fighting Party”  who have on several occasions protected the running of contraband goods, on different parts of the coast of this County and Sussex.

On proceeding to Aldington, Bilsington and Ruckinge, they captured in his bed, the “Captain Bats” and several others, whose residences and persons were pointed out by the informer, and immediately conveyed the prisoners on board the vessels, and proceeded to the Downs.

The whole business was managed under the direction of Lieutenant S. Hellard RN and it is hoped may have a good effect in preventing the outrages and defiance of the law, which the approach of winter caused the respectable part of the community to apprehend.”

Walmer, 31 August 1826

The following transcription of Edward Horn’s evidence relating to the events of 31 August 1826 was kindly provided by another generous researcher:

Edward Horn states that pm Thursday the 31st August, being at Ransley’s house, the latter told him that he should want him the next night and desired him to tell his brother he wanted to see him. Ransley further said that he (examinant) might ride in his brother’s cart, or on one of the horses. Examinant knew what he should want him for. William Smeed was present at Ransleys at this conversation and accompanied Examinant back to the latter’s house, and then they both went to John Horn’s & Examinant communicated to his brother Ransley’s message, to which John answered that he had already seen Ransley, and then it was arranged between him and his brother, in Smeed’s presence, how and when they should set off. On the following morning (Friday) William Smeed proceeded on one of John Horn’s horses for Sellinge. This was by John Horn’s directions, who also told Examinant to meet him there, which he accordingly did on foot between 9 & 10 o’clock in the forenoon. Examinant got to the place before then and waited at the Public House ‘till Smeed came up. While Examinant was waiting at this house John Horn passed in his cart.

When Smeed came up he got a pint of beer  and then rode on, accompanied by Examinant, ‘till they overtook John Horn when Smeed got into the cart & Examinant mounted Smeed’s horse and then all three drove onto Eltham, and put up at the Rose & Crown Public House where they got their dinners – he does not think the Landlord knew them. They stopped there nearly two hours and about two proceeded on to Lydden and there again put up at Mrs Hammond’s at Lydden, where Ransley had appointed to meet them. After waiting several hours Ransley came after dark, in his cart and his son with him. This lad is about 16 years of age. Before Ransley’s arrival Thomas Peaty of Ashford, came to the house in his cart bringing with him his son, and James Hogben of Bilsington, Peaty put said horse into the stable, and all three came into the house and waited with Examinant, his brother, and Smeed ‘till Ransley came – and then all of them proceeded on [?] Whitfield Gate – and on the road about a mile, where they were to meet the whole of the company – but only two or three, to the best of his recollection, had arrived, of these James Hogben of Ruckinge was one, & Ransley asked him where the company was, and how it happened that he had not got them there – Hogben answered, he had ordered them all there, and he did not know why they had not come, on which Ransley told Examinant to ride back on the road, and see if he could find any of them, which he accordingly did – but after being absent about a quarter of an hour he returned, and on his way he met Hogben of Ruckinge, to whom he related that he had not met with any one and he then took Examinant’s horse, saying he would ride on to Whitfield’s Gate, and Examinant rejoined Ransley.

In something less than an hour afterwards he returned, bringing with him the company, whom he had fallen in with under the palm trees at Casney Court, as he said, on his return. Samuel Bailey was amongst this company, and Bailey on his arrival told Ransley, in Examinant’s leaving, that the reason they were waiting under the Palm Trees was, that Hogben had ordered them to stop there, ‘till he called for them. The company was then drawn up in a field by the road and mustered by Samuel Bailey and Ransley, and to the best of his recollection they did not amount to about more than 40, for they were short of hands and there were only 10 scouts, or armed men – of the latter there were four from Dymchurch, two named Waddell and Brown. Thomas Gillham, William Smeed, Richard Wire and Examinant, and he does not recollect the name of the tenth. After the party had been mustered they proceeded on from Whittfield Gate over Sutton Common to near Ripple Court where they stopped and Samuel Bailey called out to Examinant to take his gun and go as a scout. The company assembled not amounting to the usual number of working men exa’. Not having a gun would have formed one of the party, had it not been for Bailey proposing to him to take his gun. The five carts were left in the road, near Ripple Court, which is within two miles of Walmer Castle, under the charge of Ransley’s boy, Thomas Piety, John Quested and another man, a stranger, who owned a cart from Canterbury, and who had joined them at Lydden nearly at the time Ransley did – and the company then made their way for Walmer Castle, John Horn going on as tub carrier. It was not until they had crossed the road from Walmer to Dover that he began to judge where the run would take place. Leaving the village of Walmer on their left they crossed the fields towards the Castle and there the company lay down by the Castle Wall and shrubbery while Ransley went down to the sea side to look out for the expected boat, and in about a quarter of one hour Ransley came running up and a blockage man after him – that Ransley called out to the man “don’t fire, nobody’s going to hurt you” – but the man fired, on which one of the company he does not recollect which, returned the fire, and thereupon Ransley said “that’s enough – we have let them know what we have got” and then the company, by Ransley’s directions, retreated without affecting their subject. That on crossing the road leaving from Walmser to Dover they got into a ploughed field and in the dark Examinant and Thomas Piety Junr lost their party and straggled along without knowing their way got back into the road leading from Walmer to Deal, and proceeding down that road when they got near the South Barracks Gate examinant seeing a man gave his gun to Piety desiring him to walk on the other side that the man might not observe what he had got, while Examinant enquired what place it was, and asking the man what they called the place he answered he would let him know, but perceiving him dressed in a blue jacket, with a [??], and finding he was a Blockade man, Examinant attempted to run – the man pursued him and took him prisoner – and Piety made his escape.

Near Dymchurch, 6 August 1826

During the committal trial of Aldington gang members on 17 October 1826, seaman William Spillane provided evidence about smuggling activities at Dymchurch on 6 August 1826.

Spillane’s evidence, reported in the Kentish Chronicle of 31 October 1826, was essentially as follows.

At about one am on the 6th of August, Spillane was out on duty when he heard two shots fired at Half-East Road. He ran towards the spot and saw two flashes. He first met William Wynn and then saw a party of eighty to a hundred men on the beach, about thirty or forty yards off. There was a boat nearby. Another two shots came from the shore, probably from the boat. Wynn and Spillane both fired and the smugglers fired in return. Spillane was wounded in the arms and on one side and shot was later extracted from his back. Lieutenant Johnson confirmed that Spillane had subsequently been confined to bed for five weeks.

On hearing the firing, Lieutenant Johnson rushed among the men working the cargo. He discharged a blunderbuss and saw two men fall. One of them (Bushall) later had a leg amputated after receiving a shot on that evening. Johnson said the night was so dark that it was impossible to distinguish faces, but a man in a white frock had wounded Joseph Shord.

The smugglers were pursued into the marshes but all escaped. Fourteen barrels of foreign gin were taken into possession by the blockade men, along with three muskets, one loaded with forty slugs, the others broken.

Again, Horne was called to relate his version of the events of 6 August (see below).  He recalled that goods were run between Dymchurch and Hythe and that they had met at Ransley’s place that night. All the prisoners but Charles Giles and Robert Bailey were there. Horne claimed that there were fifty or sixty men on that occasion. He said that when 80 to 100 tubs are to be run fifteen or sixteen armed men are required to protect those carrying off the casks. Samuel Dennard (presumably this should have been Thomas), Thomas Gilham, and Richard Wyer were all identified as having muskets. Horne said that Samuel Bailey kept the arms but that he never knew George Ransley to carry arms.

On the night of the 6th of August the party reached the beach somewhere between midnight and two am. Ransley called out to the party to ‘come up’ and part of cargo was landed before the blockade officers interrupted proceedings. About eighty tubs were taken up in carts and guarded for four or five miles. On this occasion, Horne received a guinea for his efforts.

Edward Horn’s evidence

Below is the most interesting of the transcripts of Edward Horn’s evidence. It makes a number of references to a Thomas Piety of Ashford – quite possibly the one who later married John Bailey’s daughter Emily in Van Diemen’s Land.  If it is the same person, he was transported aboard the Georgiana in 1829, having been convicted of horse stealing.

Horn also suggests a connection between Thomas Gilham and John Bailey – with their wives having been sisters! It turns out that Frances Furner and Catherine Richards were in fact sisters or at least half sisters, with Catherine having been born before their mother, Delia Richards, married William Furner.

As to the felonious Assembly 6th August near Fort Moncrief — Edward Horn states that about 8 o’clock on Saturday Evening the 5th of August Examinant proceeded to Ransley’s House with John Horn in consequence of a previous arrangement made between the two latter. After waiting there about an hour Ransley and his son in one Cart Thomas Piety of Ashford in another and John Horn in another Cart left Ransley’s House over the Frith to Jigger Green Bridge.  There was a Company of between 30 and 40 men assembled at Ransley’s and Examinant walked with them to the same Bridge where they were to meet the Carts as the walking party crossed the Field they reached the appointed Place a short time before the Carts when the Carts came up Ransley in his Cart went along the Canal and the two other Carts crossed the Canal at the Bridge and proceeded to the Royal Oak a Public House in the Parish of Bonnington kept by William Huckstead.  Examinant accompanied his Brother John in his Cart and James Hogben of Bilsington one who had met at Ransley’s was in Piety’s Cart. The walking Party crossed the Fields to Eldergate Bridge. Examinant’s Party did not go into the Royal Oak but turned to the left and passing Eldergate Bridge got to a Farm house belonging to Mr Selby near Burmarsh and then went on half a mile.  Horn’s and Piety’s Carts stopped for the Company.

It was then drawing on for 11 o’clock when the Company came up they crossed the Marsh leaving the two Carts in the Road with John Horn and Piety and went to a place called Jacob Wratten’s lodge where they met Ransley his Son and Hogben of Hawkinge with a Party brought by the latter.  There was also James Quested with his Cart in which the Fire arms from 12 to 16 Guns were brought. The Company when united amounted to between 50 and 60.  They were mustered in the field beyond the lodge and Ransley looking out for those who were armed pointed out to them on which side they were to be stationed during the run – amongst the armed men there were Examinant, Samuel Bailey, Thomas Gillham, Thomas Winder, William Smeed, Blisney Tickner, Thomas Denard, Richard Wire, Edward Pantery, James Hogben of Bilsington and others whose names he don’t recollect.  Ransley had gone forward to West Hythe to meet Hogben of Hawkinge and Quested’s Party.

After the muster they made their way to the sea side and lay down in a Field near the Circular Redoubt and close to the Road under Dymchurch Wall from 50 to 60 Roods from the Redoubt.  It was then near one o’clock.  After laying there about an hour during which time Ransley went up to the Sea (about 200 yards distant) to look out for the expected Boat and on his giving a Signal by a halloo they all got across the Road and over the Sea Wall to him where Examinant saw a boat laying.  The Scouts then divided into two Parties leaving room for the working Party to pass between.

Examinant was on the East or left side and with him Winder, Tickney, Samuel Bailey, William Smeed and he don’t recall who besides – Gillham was one of the armed Party to the West and John Bailey was there as a Tub carrier.  Examinant with his Party was posted along the road by the Wall on his reaching the Wall he looked over and saw the Boat and also a man he took to be a Blockade Man about ten or a dozen yards to the Eastward who retreated and a fire was then opened by Examinant’s Party at him and he continued retreating after which several of the Blockade Party came up from the same side and a good deal of firing was exchange on both sides. In consequence of the approach of these persons some one amongst the Smugglers called out come away and thereupon Examinant and his Party crossed the Road into the Field before all he working Party left the Boat and during this Time Examinant heard Ransley call come back you B___s and shoot them.  They have got one of our men but the Scouts hesitating he continued calling out to them that there was nothing to be afraid of. Shortly previous to this and during the firing Ransley (as he afterwards said on their return) in attempting to get up the Bank or wall fell down but recovered himself and got up into the Road. Examinant did not return.

Examinant had no knowledge of Bushell one of the working party who was taken nor does he of his own knowledge know that any of the Smugglers were wounded that night. While in the field he saw a scuffle between some of the Blockade Men and the Smugglers and he heard blows given but he does not know by whom further than that as they returned home he heard John Bailey say that Gillham had broken his musquet [sic] about the Blockade Man that had attempted to seize one of the Smugglers.  Examinant observed that as they went down to the sea Gillham had a Gun and that he had not one as he returned and on the Tuesday following Examinant being at Thomas Pietys at Ashford on market day he heard Ransley in the Presence of John Horn say that he thought the greater part of the Scouts were afraid ever since Giles had been shot and speaking of the Conduct of Gillham and William Smeed he said that himself Smeed and Dotchy (Gillhams‘ nick name and William Smeed with himself Ransley) would take one side to Scout at any Time and he believed the rest were afraid and Examinant observed speaking of himself that he really was afraid.

The Cargo they secured that night was between 80 and 90 Tubs and he heard Ransley say they had lost a dozen or 14 after the Boat had been worked the Tubs were carried by the Party to the Carts and put into them.  The Carts then went off by Mr Selby’s towards the Royal Oak and Examinant, John Bailey, Winder and an old man named Quested (the Father of the Man who was hanged)  and two or three more went over Eldergate Bridge by the Canal and along the Military Road to near Jigger’s Green Bridge and then turned across the fields to the right to Aldington Freight as this Party were going along Bailey told Examinant that his Brother Gilham (they married Sisters) had broken his musquet [sic] about one of the Blockade Men.

Examinant was paid for this night’s work by his Brother John on Ransley’s Account and at the same time he paid him also for the Dover Job 21/ for the former and 23/ for the latter.

Note  — On proceeding to the shore they met a Gentleman on Horseback just beyond Mr Selby’s house who appeared to be coming from Botolph’s Bridge he must have observed them he tied up his Horse at Mr Selby’s Gate and went in.


Access to Archives Reference: Depositions Regarding Smuggling, Edward Horn, U951/C27/5, 6 August 1826, Assembly near Fort Moncrief, held at Centre for Kentish Studies