Old Hunstanton tribute to murdered excisemen

A Wreath is laid on the grave of William Webb
A Wreath is laid on the grave of William Webb
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A tribute to the Excisemen of the past from the customs men of today was carried out in Hunstanton at the end of last month.

A party from the Central Region Ops Command of Border Force (who carry out immigration and customs controls for people and goods entering the UK) visited on a history-themed training exercise.

William Green gravestone, with Border Force wreath, 26 September, 2017, Old Hunstanton churchyard, Norfolk, detail

William Green gravestone, with Border Force wreath, 26 September, 2017, Old Hunstanton churchyard, Norfolk, detail

This was intended to expand relevant historical knowledge and identify lessons that can be applied to the modern day.

With local input from Neil Holmes, author of the Lawless Coast, and David Brooks, of Thornham History Society, they looked at the violent clashes in the late 18th century between officials and the large number of smugglers.

In Thornham, they learned about the events leading to an ambush, in what is now the car park of the Lifeboat Inn, when an Excise superintendent was severely injured and his party only rescued by a sergeant of Dragoons who deployed his sabre to clear a way through the armed mob.

In Old Hunstanton, the party, now joined by an officer from the Light Dragoons, considered the events exactly 233 years earlier on September 26, 1784, when another party of Excisemen, Customsmen and mounted soldiers were also ambushed, on this occasion in a lane to the west of what is now the golf course.

William Green gravestone, 18th century Customs Officer, with Border Force wreath, 26 September, 2017, Old Hunstanton churchyard, Norfolk, England, UK

William Green gravestone, 18th century Customs Officer, with Border Force wreath, 26 September, 2017, Old Hunstanton churchyard, Norfolk, England, UK

Dragoon William Webb and Customs Officer William Green were both shot at close quarters and would die of their wounds; both are buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Hunstanton.