The Smugglers’ Shipbuilder: the Customers, Trades and Vessels of a Mevagissey Shipyard, 1799-1816
The surviving papers and ledgers of a West Country shipbuilder have been reviewed to ascertain its customers and the build and design of its vessels. The company’s main markets included the fishing, coastal trade and smuggling community and each of these is described, together with the types of vessels constructed for them. It concludes that far from being “|shackled by taboo and convention,” this shipbuilder needed to be flexible and innovative in its designs to cater for the changing needs of its customers. When increasing legal constraints and enforcement adversely impacted the local smuggling industry, the firm adapted to service privateering and more legitimate trades, moving its production from cutters to schooners.