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HAT & FEATHERS BRANCASTER STAITHE index
- SMITHDON HUNDRED BEERHOUSE ? CLOSED
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Licensees :
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WILLIAM HOTCHING
born c1817, died Q4 1909
(age given as 40 in 1861)
1854 - c1865
THOMAS PAMMENT * 1864 - * 1869
WILLIAM HOTCHING
farmer
Age 50
1871

 William Hotching had in his early years operated an illicit still, probably producing brandy. He was also involved with cock fights.

He became an accomplished smuggler of tobacco.
Obtaining his qualifications from Cromer based smugglers, he gained contacts at continental harbours including Rotterdam and Flushing. He soon raised sufficient funds to buy a fast clipper of 50 tons, the Harlequin.
The contraband was apparently distributed throughout the area by being loaded onto a trap, pulled by a fast trotting mare. The tobacco was hidden under herring.

In about 1865 his career came to an end as he was apprehended at Boston whilst conducting illicit trade with a man named Smythe.
Brancaster butcher and grocer William Lane was also arrested in connection with this offence.
Hotching and Lane were both fined £840 with the option of serving 6 months in prison. They opted for the latter, but discovered when they were released, that all their assets, including the Harlequin, had been sold.

The Wide World magazine of 1905 described Hotching as
` a giant of a man, standing over 6 feet in height and having the appearance of a Viking. His head is perfectly bald at the top, a fringe of snow-white hair still remaining round the base of his skull. He has small, shrewd, light-blue eyes, a large protruding nose and a particularly small wizened mouth. His face is lined and seamed with countless wrinkles and embrowned to the hue and texture of leather.'

 

The HAT & FEATHERS still survives today as a private dwelling.