Petates and fish: Cornish Fishermen Smugglers in the late Eighteenth Century

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Author: Tony Pawlyn
Published Date: Mar 1 2010

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The perceived romance of Cornish smuggling is, in this paper, put into the context of its existence as part of the life of the fishing community in Cornwall during the late eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century. By drawing on that extensive but scarcely used contemporary primary source, the Custom House Letter-Books for the Port of Penzance, Tony Pawlyn seeks to provide a more factual foundation for the relationship between fishermen, smuggling and government authorities in Cornwall. Arguments from official papers are complemented by the contemporary letters and accounts of Zephaniah Job, smugglers’ agent of Polperro; the journals of Christopher Wallis, attorney of Helston; and some associated court records.