Silver cup

Smuggling gangs

engraved presentation cup with handles and a lid

This silver cup was presented to Commander Gabriel Bray, from the cutter 'Nimble' in 1784. It rewarded his efforts in protecting the revenue against smugglers.

A magazine of the time (The Lady) described the encounter between Gabriel Bray and a notorious smuggler - Mr Brown. In close combat Brown held a blunderbuss (gun) to Bray's chest. Seeing their captain in trouble, one of his crew slashed the smuggler's face with his cutlass. This gave Bray time to use his cutlass to behead the smuggler in self defence.

Commander Bray had discovered Brown offloading spirits onto a beach near Deal, on the Dover coast line. In the 18th century Deal was a smuggling hot spot. This incident between Bray and Brown was just one of a series of events involving local smugglers in the area.

The inscription on the cup reads;

Mr Gabriel Bray
Commander of the Nimble Admiralty Cutter.
by order of the
Commissioners of his Majesty's Customs
in testimony
of their approbation of an important service
rendered by him
to the Revenue under their management
on 25 December 1784."

Accession number CENM1998.222