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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM          
              WOOL SMUGGLING  
                 
Edward I., King of England, and the words " de Sorham " at once identify it with our town. On a shield are the three lions of England, passant guardant. The reverse of the matrix is lost.        
  forfeiture of all the wools, and the body and goods of William Chaunterell, nevertheless has pardoned him in consideration of his confession."
       
            Those who engaged in the export smuggling of wool became known as " owlers," because, like one who goes abroad o' nights, they usually carried prohibited goods to the seaside and shipped them off under cover of darkness. This traffic, which was extensively carried on for many centuries along the Sussex coast, came to an end during our last war with France.
This   " cocket, " which was used at Shoreham for the collection of the tax on wool and hides, should not be confounded with the Borough Seal.It is recorded in 1304 that Arnald de Ryver, a merchant of Bayonne, forged an imitation of the "cocket."  
It is apparent that this instrument was not always kept at Shoreham. After the execution of Sir John de Mowbray and the grant of his estates to Hugh le Despenser the younger, that baron, as lord of the town, influenced the King to transfer the " cocket " from Chichester, where it had been kept for some time, to Shoreham. Doubtless this was with an eye to the profits which the town and he himself would enjoy thereby, as the wool might be shipped only from the port where the " cocket " was kept. Thus in 1325, when Nicholas Tunstall was granted the office of Controller of Customs, it was directed that he was to receive in wages " as much as other controllers have had." At the same time William Vyvian and Germanus Hobelit were required to deliver to him the custody of "one part of the seal called `cocket' and other things pertaining to the office," which were in their custody.  
       
After the death of Edward II. and the execution of the Despensers the citizens of Chichester petitioned Edward III. to restore the " cocket " to their city. Vyvian and Hobelit were thereupon ordered to carry it back and exercise there " what pertains to the collection of the customs until otherwise ordered."        
                 
In 1341 Edward III. laid a wool tax on England, for the purpose of his French wars, and during the latter part of his reign there are further references to a " cocket " at Shoreham. Payment of customs was at times evaded by the wool merchants. In 1363 a ship freighted with over 100 sarplars of wool (a sarplar contained 40 tods) sailed from Shoreham to Calais. The sum of £400 realised by the sale of this merchandise was arrested by the searcher of the King's forfeiture because it was discovered that William Chaunterell, the master of the ship, had smuggled over from Shoreham and sold some wools " not cocketted."   The King, " although he might for such deception proceed to        
                 
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002