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History Smugglers

Cowes HM Customs

REF NR: 597

In 1368, customs were farmed by franchisees who bid for the right to do so - rather than being collected directly by the crown. It was written at that time that goods "came ashore in the franchises of the Earl of Bedford and the Earl of Salisbury on the Isle of Wight". This farming continued until about 1590 and also occurred between 1662 and 1671.


The first reference to a customs presence on the Isle of Wight is found in the reply to a petition to the king in 1432 by merchants of Lymington and Newport, complaining of the difficulties discharging goods as no customer was present.