Solway Smugglers’ Grave

A young 18th century Manx smuggler,  Thomas Stowell, is buried at Bowness on Solway church.

Smuggling along the Solway coast was rife during the 17th and 18th centuries, with large gangs of professional smugglers operating on the Scottish coast and to a lesser extent, on the English side.

Many illicit loads were landed between Saltpans and Skinburness by these ‘midnight traders’, including brandy and tea. One of the smugglers’ Ankers barrels, used to transport such goods, is on display in Bowness on Solway church.

Thomas Stowell gravestone

His smuggling cost him his life

In 1755, the King’s boast from Skinburness intercepted one of these smuggling ships.  During the chase, a young Manx smuggler, Thomas Stowell, (or stoal) was wounded by gunfire.He was landed, with his cargo of brandy and tobacco, at Bowness-on-Solway where he died.

Thomas Stowell is buried in a marked grave at Bowness on Solway churchyard, situated under a Yew tree where six more smugglers are buried, in unmarked graves.

The smugglers’ grave can be found by walking to the right (north) of the church and locating the yew tree which is about a third of the way down the graveyard.
More information

Smugglers’ Britain – Find out about smuggling in Britain – The Smugglers Route walk – The Bank End Ramble

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