The meeting of Seahouses Probus Club was opened by chairman Chris Hull, who announced that he had no opening remarks and called upon our secretary Fraser Suffield to read out the apologies for absence.
This was followed by Chris giving birthday greetings.
The secretary’s report was then called for and Fraser told us that he had visited an open day at Seahouses Hub, where he had the opportunity to talk about Probus to members of the public. He felt there was the possibility of some new members joining.
Our treasurer then detailed the satisfactory state of his areas of responsibility, after which we were introduced to our speaker Derek James, who gave a talk entitled Smuggling In Eyemouth And The South East Of Scotland.
The talk was largely about John Nisbet, a merchant of Eyemouth who was born there.
In 1712 he left Eyemouth to train as a clerk, returning in 1750 to live in Gunsgreen House.
The smuggling in Eyemouth and South East Scotland was particularly prevalent from the 1750s to the 1780s, and unlike the smuggling along the South coast of England, it seldom involved fighting on the beaches and suchlike.
It was almost respectable, involved much of the merchant classes and was mainly in French wine, spirits and tea.
It was said that almost all the tea drunk in the North of England and South East Scotland was free of tax.
After an enthusiastic question and answer session, when this smuggling was likened to the current vogue for tax avoidance, the vote of thanks for an erudite, entertaining and rather surprising talk was given by Brian Brand.