A signature of the Seasalter Company was their almost invisible use of people in positions of authority. Unlike the stories (and myths) surrounding other smuggling organisations, the Seasalter Company has no legend to hand down, no stories, no accounts of dealings, nor conflicts with local militia, dragoons or revenue men.
Much of what we know about the organisation comes from piecing together information concerning the purchase of marshland, copses and other woodland. We have details of fine properties bought by people who never lived in the area or who stayed for a short while before moving on to great success.
With little primary information and sources, we might conclude that no such organisation actually existed but look at the patterns, how they are repeated, and what emerges is a network that learned how to keep secrets.
One such secret was the intelligence network that the Fraternity built up using the Customs and Excise services.
Controlling the shoreline.
The Company first started gaining control of the shoreline through the appointment of riding officers, coastwaiters, and local clergy. Here is a brief timeline of how key preventive services appointments were controlled by the Seasalter Company:
1782 John Knocker from Dover is appointed Customswaiter and Searcher at Whitstable. Salary: £25 per annum plus £15 to maintain a horse.
1785 Richard Baldock appointed Riding Officer and Coastwaiter at Herne Bay.
1789 Thomas King appointed Tide Surveyor at Whitstable. After two years, he returns to Dover, sets up as a builder and is appointed deputy registrar of births, deaths and marriages.
1791 Edward Knocker becomes Tide Surveyor at Whitstable. He retires to Dover as an Attorney at Law and lives in an impressive property on Castle Hill. Also appointed Town Clerk of Dover. Edward handles the legal transactions on behalf of the Seasalter Company.
???? John King appointed to Seasalter (Whitstable) as Tide Surveyor(?) and then retires to Dover as ‘a gentleman’.
1794 Jonas King appointed Coastwaiter at Whitstable and Riding Officer to the area. His salary is £25 per year with an allowance of £15 for maintaining a horse.
1799 Richard Hobday Baldock (son of William Baldock) appointed Coastwaiter at Herne in the port of Faversham. Salary £60 per year.
1800 Richard Hobday Baldock given the additional appointment of Riding Officer to ‘ride Herne, Whitstable and Reculver. Here we see how the Baldocks assume control of a large territory of the coastline. There are some reports describing the tensions that Richard would have had to deal with concerning other smugglers in the area.