Monday, 17 March 2008


Defoe describes much of this better than I can:

From hence following the coast, and the great road together, for they are still within view of one another, we come to Feversham, a large populous, and as some say, a rich town: Tho' here is no particular remarkable trade, either for manufacture or navigation; the principal business we found among them, was fishing for oysters, which the Dutch fetch hence in such extraordinary quantities, that when I was there, we found twelve large Dutch hoys and doggers lying there to load oysters; and some times, as they told us, there are many more: This is greatly to the advantage of the place, as it employs abundance of men and boats in drudging for the oysters, which they catch in great plenty, in the mouth of the East-Swale; which, as I said above, enters in this part of the country into the sea, and opens very wide.

It was at the mouth of this Swale, namely, at Shell-Ness, so call'd from the abundance of oyster-shells always lying there, that the smack in which the late King James II. was embark'd for his escape into France, ran on shoar, and being boarded by the fishermen, the king was taken prisoner; and I must mention it to the reproach of the people of Feversham, let the conduct of that unfortunate prince be what it will, that the fishermen and rabble can never be excus'd, who treated the king, even after they were told who he was, with the utmost indecency, using his majesty; (for he was then their sovereign, even in the acknowledged sense of his enemies) I say, using him with such indignity in his person, such insolence in their behaviour, and giving him such opprobrious and abusive language, and searching him in the rudest and most indecent manner, and indeed rifling him; that the king himself said, he was never more apprehensive of his life than at that time. He was afterwards carry'd by them up to the town, where he was not much better treated for some time, till some neighbouring gentlemen hi the county came in, who understood their duty better, by whom he was at least preserv'd from farther violence, till coaches and a guard came from London, by the Prince of Orange's order, to bring him with safety and freedom to London; where he was at least for the present much better received, as in the history of those times is to be seen.

While I was near this town some years ago, a most surprising accident happen'd, namely, the blowing up of a powder-mill, which stood upon the river, close to the town; the blast was not only frightful, but it shatter'd the whole town, broke the windows, blew down chimneys, and gable-ends not a few; also several people were kill'd at the powder-house it self, tho' not any, as I remember, in the town: but what was most remarkable in it all, was, that the eldest son of the master of the powder-mill, a youth of about fifteen years of age, who was not in the mill, or near it, when it blew up; but in a boat upon the river, rowing cross for his diversion, was kill'd by a piece of the building of the mill, which blew up into the air by the force of the powder, and fell down upon him in the boat: I know nothing else this town is remarkable for, except the most notorious smuggling trade, carry'd on partly by the assistance of the Dutch, in their oyster-boats, and partly by other arts, in which they say, the people hereabouts are arriv'd to such a proficiency, that they are grown monstrous rich by that wicked trade; nay, even the owling trade (so they call the clandestine exporting of wool) has seem'd to be transposed from Rumney Marsh to this coast, and a great deal of it had been carry'd on between the mouth of the East-Swale and the North-Foreland.

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