One of the “cottage” industries of the late 1700s and early 1800s in England and Scotland was smuggling. This was not just a single individual stealing a keg or two and then selling it to his neighbors; these were operations where large volumes of contraband were moved about the southern counties of England and from coast to coast in Scotland. It is said that many of the villagers in Kent used gin to clean their windows, for it was so plentiful in the area. It is believed that 80% of the tea drunk in England at the time had not had a duty paid upon it.
The typical smuggler at the time worked hard to transport their bounties inland. If one thinks of the White Cliffs of Dover, he might have a better idea of the obstacles smugglers encountered. Once the ship was captured, the goods had to be carried, literally, by men up steep cliffs to a waiting caravan of carts and ponies to take the goods inland. Sometimes, the barrels and tubs were strapped to a man’s back if there were no animals to be had. Whole communities depended upon the smuggled goods, and, upon occasion, they would take up arms to reclaim the items seized by the revenue men.
Smuggling was the result on tax laws placed upon the populace to pay for the wars in Europe and the American continent. Smugglers’ Britain tells us, “18th century taxation fell into two categories, each administered and collected by a separate government department. Customs duties had a historical precedent in that the English Crown had for centuries claimed a proportion of all cargoes entering the country — or a financial levy in lieu of the fine wine or bolts of fabric. In 1688, though, the customs duties were streamlined and restructured into a form that would — in theory at least — generate more revenue for the exchequer.
“The other type of duty had its origins in the Civil War: a tax on land took the place of two older taxes — wardship and the parliamentary subsidy — and a new tax, excise, was levied specially to pay for the war. Excise was a tax on domestic consumption, and during the years of the civil war it covered many different items, but its scope was reduced ten years later to cover just chocolate, coffee, tea, beer, cider and spirits. However, after 1688 it was progressively widened to include other essentials such as salt, leather, and soap.
“The separation of these two taxes mattered not a jot to the common man, who knew only that he had to pay more for what he bought. And as the 18th century progressed, the slice taken by the exchequer increased sometimes steadily and progressively, sometimes by leaps and bounds, as the conflicts with France ebbed and flowed. By the middle of the century, the tax on tea was nearly 70% of its initial cost, and the double burden of customs and excise duties was widely resented by a rural population often close to starvation.
“Collection of the customs duties was haphazard and bureaucratic and was largely based on a system, established in the 13th century, of custom houses at ports around the coast. In the ensuing centuries a creaking and corrupt hierarchy had grown up around the custom houses. The collectors and comptrollers of customs and their multitude of functionaries were primarily concerned with taxation on the export of the wool that made England wealthy. However, when the dawn of the 18th century heralded heavy taxation on imports, the system was ill-fitted to combat the spirited efforts of large numbers of Englishmen determined to defraud the King.”
Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy
Sir Alexander Chandler knows his place in the world. As the head of one of the divisions of the Home Office, he has his hand on the nation’s pulse. However, a carriage accident on a deserted Scottish road six months earlier has Sir Alexander questioning his every choice. He has no memory of what happened before he woke up in an Edinburgh hospital, and the unknown frightens him more than any enemy he ever met on a field of battle. One thing is for certain: He knows he did not marry Miss Alana Pottinger’s sister in an “over the anvil” type of ceremony in Scotland.
Miss Alana Pottinger has come to London, with Sir Alexander’s son in tow, to claim the life the baronet promised the boy when he married Sorcha, some eighteen months prior. She understands his responsibilities to King and Crown, but this particular fiery, Scottish miss refuses to permit Sir Alexander to deny his duty to his son. Nothing will keep her from securing the child’s future as heir to the baronetcy and restoring Sir Alexander’s memory of the love he shared with Sorcha: Nothing, that is, except the beginning of the Rockite Rebellion in Ireland and the kidnapping of said child for nefarious reasons.
An impressive ending to the beautifully crafted Twins’ Trilogy – Starr’s ***** Romance Reviews
Love. Power. Intrigue. Betrayal. All play their parts in this fitting conclusion to a captivating, romantic suspense trio. – Bella Graves, Author & Reviewer
NOTE: BEGINNING MONDAY, MARCH 25, BLACK OPAL BOOKS PUT ANGEL COMES TO THE DEVIL’S KEEP AND THE EARL CLAIMS HIS COMFORT ON SALE ALSO.
Excerpt: Alexander had spent a half hour with the Ladies Swenton, Remmington, and Berwick, learning what he could of what their husbands had shared with them, which was surprisingly more than he expected. It appeared Remmington, as well as Berwick and Swenton, confided much of their governmental business to their wives, treating the women as their partners in life, rather than the customary role of dependents. He wondered, not for the first time since learning the truth of his short courtship of Sorcha Pottinger, how he had wooed the woman and how he had treated her. Evidently, he had not made her aware of his search for Remmington’s “twin,” which was the real reason for his being in Scotland last August. Had he been ashamed of his impetuous actions? Was that the reason he had never escorted his wife to London to meet the rest of his family? The reason he had denied her existence, even to himself?
He now wondered how they had come together. Where had they met? What brought them together? How had their relationship progressed so quickly? Had he been sober or deep in his cups when he proposed their joining?
Before he departed Swenton’s estate, Lady Remmington had handed him a note from her husband. In it, Remmington had described their suspicions of smuggling upon Lord Angus’s part, and his friend cautioned Alexander to consider Lord Kavanaugh’s part in all that had occurred regarding Alexander’s accident. At the time of Frederick Troutman’s revenge against Remmington and the Davids’s family as a whole, Remmington had assumed the role of guardian of Kavanaugh’s daughter, Deirdre, when the Irish lord had disowned the child after Lady Kavanaugh, the former Miss Delia Phillips, had delivered a son. Kavanaugh had beaten his wife so often she died after delivering an heir for Kavanaguh. Remmington had taken offense, because his lordship had once thought to make the former Miss Phillips his wife. It was all a very convoluted affair, but Remmington had used his vast influence as both an English earl and a long-time agent for the Home Office to ruin Kavanaugh financially. His friend meant to remind Alexander that there was more than one player in this drama and how the McGinthurs had employed a man they suspected to be Kavanaugh’s illegitimate son in Sorcha’s abduction, and this likely pointed to a closer connection between Lord Lachlan and Kavanaugh than they originally thought. Alexander’s friends suspected Kavanaugh had become the Irish supplier of the contraband the McGinthurs moved about from port to coastal port in Scotland.
As he fell asleep that evening, still some five hours from the Scottish border, Alexander wondered if he could reach Sorcha in time to prevent her from giving herself to Lord Lachlan. He did not yet know how he would explain her and Greer to his superiors and to London society, but he could work out the details when she and the boy were safely in his arms again. If worst came, he would resign his position with the government. “After all, it does not matter how we were joined, but rather that we are joined. Marriage is forever. Moreover, I have neglected my country estate and my personal life for too long.”
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: I HAVE TWO eBOOK COPIES OF “LADY CHANDLER’S SISTER” FOR THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. THE GIVEAWAY WILL END AT MIDNIGHT EDST ON APRIL 1.
Congrats on your release! Thanks for sharing your research and excerpt.
I am glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Michele.