Joseph Swaine (1792-1821)

From Historical Hastings

Joseph Swaine (alternately Swain) was a Hastings fisherman[1].

Swaine was killed in 1821 by exciseman George England, who had demanded to search his boat as part of an ongoing anti-smuggling operation[2]. England and other officers boarded Swaine's boat, but he refused them permission to search it[3]. A struggle ensued and Swaine was fatally shot. England was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang, but later reprieved[2].

A gravestone in the churchyard of All Saints Church reads[1]:

This stone, sacred to the memory of Joseph Swain, fisherman, was created at the expense of the members of the friendly Society of Hastings in commiseration of his cruel and untimely death and as a record of the pblic indignation at the needless and sanguinary violence of which he was the unoffending victim. He was shot by Geo. England, one of the sailors employ’d in the Coast Blockade Service, in open day on the 13th March 1821 and almost instantly expir’d in the twenty-ninth year of his age, leaving a widow and five small children to lament his loss.

References & Notes

  1. a b Memorial: M2568, Maritime Memorials, Royal Museums Greenwich
  2. a b Smuggling on the Sussex Coast, R. Platt
  3. The Smugglers (1909), C. G. Harper, via Project Gutenberg