Jurisdiction in Marginal Seas: With Special Reference to Smuggling

By William E. Masterson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
FROM 1700 TO 1736

§ 2. Legislation
Jurisdiction taken for Two Leagues and within the
Limits of any Port

The eighteenth century witnessed a great deal of drastic legislation and many orders and instructions from the Board of Customs in the warfare against smuggling, which was ever on the increase, until it eventually produced a condition of all but anarchy on some parts of the coasts and in the littoral seas. Legislation during the new century took more definite form; in many instances, it fixed definite limits of jurisdiction over the smuggling craft of all nationalities--namely, two, three, and four leagues from the shore as well as the large areas of the sea known as the "King's Chambers"; while other laws declared that certain conduct within the limits of a port or, again, anywhere "at sea" constituted criminal offenses.

The correspondence between the Board of Customs and the collectors at the outports and the reports of committees appointed by Parliament to study and report on the question of smuggling, reflect, in great detail and with great clarity, the rise and rapid growth of the evil during the new century, the necessity for new and more drastic legislation, and the practice in vogue of cruising for and seizing vessels on the high seas.

During the period under consideration, namely, from 1700 to 1736, legislation penalized the taking in of goods anywhere "at sea," and certain conduct within the limits of a port, or, again, within two leagues of the coast.

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