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Squire Jack Rattenbury 1778 -

Fictional use of actual notorious smuggler, publican, diarist, now in his dotage in Beer writing his memoirs on a 'pension' from a local Lord & MP.

[Extracts from Smuggling.co.uk]

Jack's increasing wealth is abundantly clear. In the early days he hasn't two pennies to rub together, but by the age of thirty, he had amassed sufficient money to trade in boats much as people today buy and sell second-hand cars: even in the face of adversity he has no trouble in setting up in business once again. He buys a leaky old tub, the Lively, and carries out several hazardous smuggling missions in her. Fearing drowning on further forays, Rattenbury beaches the boat for repairs, and buys the Neptune. With the wreck of the Neptune, the Lively comes back into use, but is in turn seized at Brixham, and Rattenbury forfeits a 160 bond. He comments that, on top of the loss of two boats the loss of the bond..'was a great shock to my circumstances' but continues in the next breath...'Not long after this disaster, I bought part of a 12-oared boat, which was 53 feet keel and 60 feet aloft'. Clearly he wasn't short of cash.

Rattenbury's principal smuggling method in the early years seems to have been to buy tubs in the Channel Islands, and sink them off the English coast for later collection. As the 19th century proceeded, Rattenbury began to make trips direct to France — usually to Cherbourg. This in good weather takes a day or less.

He didn't confine himself to smuggling conventional cargoes, and also considered other enterprises, some successful, some not so profitable. He was caught smuggling out French prisoners, but excused himself by saying he thought they came from Jersey. The magistrates ticked him off and sent him home.

Rattenbury's book also reveals much of the ups and downs of smuggling. He tries to give up the trade and run a pub, but this proves far from lucrative and in 1813 he shut up the pub, commenting ' there was scarcely anything to be done in smuggling'. And in early 1814...'in consequence of the fluctuating nature of our public affairs, smuggling was also at a stand'. (At this time there was a temporary lull in the Napoleonic Wars — Napoleon was in exile on Elba).

see also [well connected, why did he get a pension from Lord Rolle of Bicton ?]

[a notorious smuggler]

['a Fisherman' and pub owner]

[his emponymous cider.]

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers


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Last edited June 15, 2006 1:14 pm by HowardT (diff)
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