Clandestine Networks?

One of the oddities of the eighteenth-century smuggling economy was that the nodes of illicit trade were well-known both to those in the "running trade" and officials. 

 

The data collected by this project is helping to understand the important role played by these nodes, including places such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey. 

Many of these locations specialized as spaces in which goods might be purchased legally specifically for the purpose of running them into Britain. Smuggling havens were protected by jurisdictional privileges. Jersey, which was a relic of the duchy of Normandy, had its own laws and courts. No customs officers had authority to seize goods on Jersey, for example, other than what the local law gave them. 

Those who participated in the running trade came from a variety of backgrounds. Navy surgeons and even aristocrats are found in the prosecution data. Both professional smugglers and seemingly legal merchants were drove the trade. 

The organization of the trade was increasingly sophisticated by the 1720s, involving networks of traders who moved goods through a variety of tricks and strategies. These shifted year to year as the laws changed.

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The Isle of Man's European Smuggling Network