Three of the thirty Smugglers who broke open the Custom-House at Poole, and were executed at Tyburn, 26th of April, 1749
KINGSMILL was a native of Goudhurst, in Kent, and had passed some part of his life as a husbandman; but having associated with the smugglers, he made no scruple of entering into the most hazardous enterprises, and became so distinguished for his courageous -- or rather ferocious -- disposition that he was chosen captain of the gang.
Fairall was a native of Horsendown Green, in Kent, and the son of poor parents, who were unable either to educate him or to give him any regular employment by which he might obtain a livelihood. He began to associate with the smugglers while quite a boy, and was frequently employed by them to hold their horses; and when he grew up to man's estate he was admitted as one of the fraternity. He was so remarkable for his brutal courage that it was not thought safe to offend him.
Perin was a native of Chichester, in Sussex. Having served his time to a carpenter, he practised some years as a master, and was successful in trade; but a stroke of the palsy depriving him of the use of his right hand he became connected with the smugglers, on whose behalf he used to sail to the coast of France and purchase goods, which he brought to England; and in this capacity he proved very serviceable to the gang.
It is evident that these men must have greatly injured the revenue and the fair trader, for they had a number of warehouses in different parts of Sussex for the concealment of their goods, and kept not less than fifty horses, some of which they sent loaded to London, and others to the fairs round the country.
Perin, being in France in the year 1747, bought a large quantity of goods, which he loaded on board a cutter, with a view to run them on the coast of Sussex; but, as several smuggling vessels were expected at this juncture, Captain Johnson, who commanded a cutter in the Government's service, received orders to sail in search of them.
In consequence thereof he sailed from Poole and took the smuggling cutter above mentioned on the following day; but Perin and his accomplices escaped by taking to their boat. Captain Johnson found the cargo to consist of brandy and tea, to a very large amount, which he carried safe into the harbour of Poole.
Soon after this transaction, which happened in the month of September, the whole body of smugglers assembled in Charlton Park, to consult if there was any possibility of recovering the goods of which they had thus been deprived. After many schemes had been proposed, and rejected, Perin recommended that they should go in a body, armed, and break open the custom-house at Poole; and, this proposal being acceded to, a paper was drawn up, by way of bond, that they should support each other; and this was signed by all the parties.
This agreement, which was filled with dreadful curses on each other in case of failure to execute it, was signed on the 6th of October. Having provided themselves with swords and fire-arms they met on the following day; and, having concealed themselves in a wood till the evening they proceeded towards Poole, where they arrived about eleven at night.
Having forced the door of the custom-house open, with hatchets and other instruments, they carried off the smuggled goods, with which they loaded their horses; and, travelling all night, stopped in the morning at Fording's Bridge.
The smugglers numbered thirty, and their horses thirty-one. Continuing their journey to a place named Brook, they divided the booty into equal shares, and then departed, each to his own house.
This daring transaction being represented to the Secretaries of State, King George II gave orders for issuing a proclamation, with a reward for the apprehension of the offenders. At length two of the smugglers gave intelligence of the usual place of meeting of the others, in consequence of which Fairall, Kingsmill, Perin, and another, named Glover, were taken into custody, and conducted to Newgate. They were brought to trial, were capitally convicted, and received sentence of death; but the jury recommended Glover as an object of the Royal clemency.
On the following day Perin was carried to the place of execution in a mourning-coach; the two others in a cart with a guard of Horse and Foot Guards. The behaviour of Fairall and Kingsmill was remarkably undaunted; but all of them joined in devotion with the ordinary of Newgate when they came to the fatal tree. The bodies of Kingsmill and Fairall were hung in chains in the county of Kent.