George Gillham 1773 – 1831

Leader of the Little Common Smugglers. Thomas Gillham moved to Little Common from Marden in Kent in the second half of the 18th century and married Elizabeth Smith in 1768 at St. Peter’s Church. Later generations of the Gillhams were builders by day and smugglers by night. George Gillham was leader of the Little Common Gang which operated from the beach at the Sluice near the Star Inn at Normans Bay. The Gillham family lived at Peach Cottage in The Twitten. The gang operated two boats – ‘The Long Boat’ and ‘The Princess Charlotte’ – which were berthed at a spot known as ‘Willow Tot’.

In February 1822 Customs men armed with carbines prevented the Charlotte from landing. Gangs were protected by Batsmen who carried heavy wooden bats some two yards in length. Three hundred had gathered in front of the Star Inn but were forced to retreat before a superior force of Customs men.

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