Most of the smuggling trade was found in England’s southern shires, but that did not mean such was the only area of Great Britain with a sturdy smuggler contingent. The movement of goods from coast to coast was only a matter of 154 miles at its widest point (Buchan Ness to Applecross. The furthest one can be from the sea is 40-50 miles, and at its narrowest Scotland is only 25 miles wides (from the estuaries of the rivers Clyde and Forth. It is only 275 miles from its northern borders (Cape Wrath) to Mull of Galloway in the south. (RampantScotland.com) Obviously, these distances played into the success of Scottish smuggling.
Scottish whisky was the product of choice for smugglers, but it was not the only one, for the excise officers tracking down smugglers in Scotland also had their hands full with illegal imports coming in along Scotland’s 6200 miles of coastland. Illegal distilling whisky was simply one of their responsibilities.
Smugglers’ Britain tells us, “Most of the stilling went on in the glens, where there was a plentiful supply of the clean fresh water, needed for the soaking of the grain prior to malting. After several days soaking in a burn, the grain was spread out on a warm floor, and allowed to sprout. Roasting and grinding of the sprouted grain made the malt, which was mixed with hot water to create the wort. After fermentation, the wort was boiled in a copper container, and vapour condensed in a spiraling tube, called the worm, to make the spirit.
“All this was legal (though taxable) until 1814, when small stills of less than 500 gallons were prohibited. The response from the highlanders was, needless to say, not very sympathetic, and much of the public fury was vented against the officially approved distillers, who were hugely outnumbered by illicit manufacturers. In 1778 there were 8 legal stills in Edinburgh — and an estimated 400 working without payment of duty.”
“Not all the illegal hooch was consumed locally: much of it was moved south of the border, often in very odd containers. ‘Belly canteens’ for the transport of spirits held two gallons and were made of sheet iron. They gave the female wearer a convincing if somewhat rigid appearance of advanced pregnancy. Another container was made to look like a passenger riding pillion behind the horse-borne smuggler — a leather head made the illusion complete.”
The union of England and Scotland, which occurred in 1707, played a role in the growth of Scotland’s smuggling trade. Before the union, duties on goods north and south of the border varied greatly. The Scots had, generally, smuggled highly-taxed goods into England. With the union, taxes on many goods rose sevenfold in Scotland.
Coast to coast smuggling of expensive foreign goods did not occur on the same scale in Scotland as it did in England. Instead, Scottish smugglers transported staples required for household use. Salt, used to preserve meat and fish, etc., came in from Ireland along the western coast of Scotland.
Scotland became sort of a warehouse for goods from the Continent, especially tea and tobacco. “The clan system, the powerful Scots church and Jacobean sympathies further united the population behind the smugglers, and made it unlikely that a free-trader would be found guilty in a jury trial. Even when the customs men managed to secure a conviction, the fines were paltry.” (Smugglers’ Britain)
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.
Thanks Regina for sending me your book. Love it! AND I know very little about smuggling in the British Isles except for something I read about Margate. Looking forward to reading this story. Jen