Smuggling at Brooke & Mottistone

A visitor to Niton in 1860 said, ‘The whole population here are smugglers.’ The same was true of Brook and Mottistone, where smuggling was a core part of the village economy.

There was no social stigma attached to smuggling, Lieutenant Dornford and his crew of seven coastguards were charged in 1836 with collusion. Part of the evidence being their friendship with Mr Rogers of Compton Farm, ‘ a person in the habit of affording every accommodation to smugglers,’ according to the Supervisor of Excise.

The local fishermen, who knew every inch of the coast as well by night as by day, were in demand by smuggling vessels from the Solent.

Courtesy of the Isle of Wight County Press, 1958.

An interesting discovery this week has produced a new link with smuggling days along the channel coast of the Island.

In his book Forever England (1932), Major General Jack Seely records how:
Even in my grandfather’s time a tub of brandy was always left at both the farm and the Rectory.

Fred Mew recounts an unusual hiding place for contraband in Mottistone:
It was about the year 1872, when John Cook, a carter could be seen ploughing a deep wide furrow in a field near a withy bed.

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Writing in the WI Scrapbook in 1958, Mrs Buckett remembers hearing how:
When the fishing season finished, the adventurous characters took to making trips to France on dark nights for their livelihood.