Frances Wilkins

The Dumfries Collectors and the King’s Boat at Carsethorn, 1764–1799

Recent, History

TDGNHAS Series III, 85 (2011), 93(3.42 MB)


For a period of nearly one hundred years the senior customs officers at the port of Dumfries believed that the establishment of a king’s boat at Carsethorn was the best means of stopping smuggling up the Solway Firth. These king’s boats were comparatively small when compared with the revenue cutters stationed round the Scottish coasts – the nearest of these was at Whithorn. They were essentially open boats with four, six or eight sets of oars and a sail. They were manned by a commander with a crew of men, who had been bred to the sea. The main source of information about the king’s boats is the copy books of letters from the Board of Customs in Edinburgh to the collector and comptroller at Dumfries and the local officers’ letters to the Board and to their own staff. This paper describes the relationship between the collectors and the commanders of the king’s boat, during the period 1759 to 1799, for which there is the most detailed information.