Letter from Thomas Pettet to John Collier

Historical Background

Collier (1685-1760) was Solicitor for the Crown assisting in trials of smugglers until 1733 when he was appointed Surveyor-General of the Riding Officers of Kent.

 Collier was putting together evidence in support of two dragoons accused of  the murder of Thomas Peen, a suspected smuggler and possible member of the infamous Hawkhurst Gang, at Hollington, Hastings.  Collier had lined up Thomas Pettet of Battle as a witness but this letter from Pettet shows how frightened he was to give evidence:


I don’t care much for going much for going for a witness for I don’t know But what it may cost me my life for them Holkhourse genge ear bloodthoursty fellows


See also :

Convictions before George Stace esq, JP of several men on charges of smuggling, 14 March 1820. The first case is typical of the others:

  • Joseph Honeysett of Brookland in Kent, labourer, apprehended with two tubs of spiritous liquor on his shoulders, attempting to run them, by John Johnson, seaman of HMS Severn detached and serving in the Coast Blockade at the watchhouse at Jews Gut in Winchelsea; fine £100 reduced to £25. (ESRO: WIN 283). 
  • Statement of Thomas Hill of Winchelsea, officer of excise, that he suspects that run (smuggled) goods are concealed in the house of Henry Buttonshaw of Winchelsea, 25 February 1815. (ESRO: WIN 2027).
  • Date details


  • Institution

UK – Lewes – East Sussex Record Office

  • Original reference

Say 286

  • Period

Early modern Period

  • Thematic

Maritime and Trade Links


UK – Lewes – East Sussex Record Office

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