In common with many coastal towns, the fleets of Hastings vessels occupied themselves with Privateering, whereby licenses, the letter of Marque, could be purchased from the Government permitting the masters of vessels to engage in limited warfare with enemy vessels, of varying nationality over time. The privateers in some instances crossed over into piracy.
During the middle of the 18th century, cutters such as the Hawk, Idas, Jane and Duke of Wellington could be seen drawn up on the beach in front of Breeds Place as related by John Banks in his Reminiscences of Smuggling. Banks goes on to relate how two privateers, Nicholas Wingfield and Adams Hyde on the 11th of August 1758 boarded the Danish vessel Der Reisende Jacob (which was also carrying the Danish ambassador to Spain) from their vessels and stole twenty casks of butter in an act of piracy. After the Admiralty offered a reward of £500 Wingfield and Hyde together with four others having been reported to the authorities by some of their accomplices were arrested and subsequently tried at the Admiralty Sessions of March the 9th 1759. Wingfield and Hyde were both found guilty and hung for their crime at Execution Dock on the 28th of March 1759, the four others being acquitted.
- J. Banks - Reminiscences of Smuggling: Google Books
- Nicholas Wingfield (1715-1759) | WikiTree FREE Family Tree, accessdate: 27 February 2020