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English Smugglers, the Channel, and the Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1814

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 20:54 authored by Gavin DalyGavin Daly
During the NapoleonicWars the Channel between England and France remained a major site for smuggling. Both the British and French governments faced this problem. From the French perspective, banned English textiles flooded continental markets; from the British perspective, smugglers evaded duties on continental goods landed on local shores and illegally shipped people and goods out of Britain to France and the Netherlands. While the smuggling of English textiles into Napoleonic-controlled Europe has become part of the history of the Continental Blockade, very little has been written on the contraband flows into and out of Britain and on the English smugglers who were the principal agents in a trans-Channel smuggling community.1 This article aims to address this neglect, throwing new light on the nature of the Channel and its coastal communities and offering further insights into the contested historical questions of identity, patriotism, and Anglo-French relations during the Napoleonic Wars. At the same time that the British state and its people were at war with Napoleonic France and its satellite states, English subjects along the Channel shore continued to trade illegally with the enemy, with the Channel proving a permeable border rather than an impenetrable defensive barrier. In general, English smuggling during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries remains an underdeveloped field of historical inquiry.


Publication title

Journal of British Studies








School of Humanities


University of Chicago Press

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2007 by The North American Conference on British Studies.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding past societies not elsewhere classified

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