Tuesday 12 July 2011

Smugglers of Lace and Tea

These fantastic drawings were found recently in the Orkney Customs & Excise Records, blogged here. They are instructions to Kirkwall Customs Officials to watch out for ingenious ways of smuggling tea and lace from ships in 1834.

It is such a brilliant piece of reference, hard to imagine a pound and a half of tea being worth the bother but these were highly valuable commodities smuggled into the country in many  ingenious ways. I am sure I read someplace it was common to smuggle lace in coffins.

The top one reads -
Description of six smugglers recently taken with concealments of lace about their persons.
Two of the number carried nine pieces each including the thigh piece as described by      
figure one and the remaining four eight parcels each, without the thigh piece as described    by figure number two.

Below reads -
Eighteen rows in the above waistcoat or stays, well stuff'd with tea weighing about 8lbs.

And -
The above worn as a pair of drawers made of stout cotton,  secured with strong drawing strings, stuff'd with tea and weighing about 16lbs.