"Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk..."
We have an image, mostly from movies and novels, of a tall ship riding gently at anchor in a moonlit, secluded bay with the 'gentlemen' cheerfully hauling kegs of brandy and tobacco ashore, then disappearing silently into the night shadows to hide their contraband away from the excise men in a dark cave or a secret cellar.
But how much of the popular idea is fact and how much is fiction?
Smuggling was big business - it still is - but who were these derring-do rebels of the past who went against paying taxes on the importation of luxury goods? Who purchased the illicit contraband? How did smugglers operate? Where were the most notorious locations?
Was it profitable, or just an inevitable path to arrest and the hangman's noose?