Letter to unknown newspaper by Willoughby John Bean referring to Church and Strood trust. Part of the letter:
In the early part of the last century, smuggling was prevalent. The bigger fishing smacks fishing off the continental shores, from, say, Rotterdam to Brest, used upon occasion to bring kegs of spirit across and land them on the coast of England. Amongst other places, Mersea was one. These kegs were tied together in pairs, so as to be convenient for a man to sling a pair over one shoulder, and walk off with, or climb a sea wall.
At the Strood wharf it may be noticed that there is still a gateway, leading over the sea wall, which encloses a marsh of seveal acres extent. In my time there still was a fairly long
stretch of yard next the wall, where barge-loads of London manure, chalk, or other material were stored to await removal to agricultural land, and at the far end was a lime kiln.
Let us imagine on a night when the tide was high about 3am, just after the new moon. A smack which had been fishing near the estuary of the Colne and Blackwater for perhaps a week, each night making its harbour in the Colne, near the Geedons or Pyefleet, so as to avoid suspicion by "Preventive" men, gets up out of the hold the kegs concealed there. In her "long boat" of six oars the crew quickly rows up Pyefleet at high water to the sea wall mentioned, inside of which. by pre-arrangement, arewaiting several one-horse
carts, in which the kegs of spirit are to be removed, perhaps as far as Tiptree Common.
Let us also imagine (which was a fact) that of the Preventive men stationed at West Mersea there was one whose name was Cardy, living in "Mersea City", who was not only a bold man, but whose duty led him to patrol the Strood tht night. Tradition says that the night was somewhat foggy, and having heard some noise and investigated, he concealed himself against
the gate, and as the leading cart came through he shot the horse ded. The drivers, not so very bold, fled across the marsh without waiting for inquiry, and single-handed Cardy made his capture. Further details I cannot give, but have no doubt as to the truth of the main story.
A member of the Cardey family visited the Museum 22Sep2011 and left his cutting. There is a Moses Cardy 1778-1849, buried with a gravestone in West Mersea churchyard. Samuel John Cardy died 1881 and death registered West Mersea Church, but not clear if he was buried in the churchyard.
Date: After 1900
This image is part of the Mersea Island Museum Collection.