Sennen Smugglers

Smuggling boats landed goods from the continent on the South coast of Cornwall in all seasons, but the North coast was used for continental traffic principally during the summer, when the Atlantic storms had abated.

The coastline of North Cornwall is less favourable for landings as there are fewer gently-sloping sandy beaches and many of the suitable coves are too exposed to the wind, making approach more hazardous. Indeed, the heavy surf for which the area is now famous was another problem, breaking up the floating 'rafts' of roped-together tubs. That said, the main advantage of a north coast landing to the smuggler was that it was inconspicuous: revenue vessels kept an eagle eye on the south coast, but were less vigilant on the north.

At the extreme tip of Cornwall, Sennen was a centre of the free-trade. The village inn was owned by a farmer who helped to finance local smuggling operations, with the help of the landlady, Ann George, and her husband. Dissatisfied with their lot, this unpleasant pair blackmailed the farmer, refusing to pay the rent on the premises. When they were evicted, they shopped their former employer, and he was sent to jail for his involvement. Needless to say, this treason made the two informers highly unpopular, and had some considerable bearing on a later trial in the town.

This sequel came in 1805 when the excise men impounded a large cargo — 1000 gallons each of brandy, rum and gin, and a quarter of a ton of tobacco. As they struggled to remove the cargo, a large and hostile crowd built up, and a running battle ensued. The owner of the cargo eventually appeared in court charged with inciting the mob to riot. The main witness for the prosecution was Ann George, but she was regarded as such a malicious gossip that the case was dismissed.

The First and Last Inn
The First and Last Inn
The First and Last Inn