Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sam Bailey - a major character in the novel "A Devil's Dozen"

SAM BAILEY is 35 years old and 5’11” tall, with near-black hair and eyes. Like all the Bailey men, he is formidable in both build and temperament. He lives in Bilsington with his wife, Sarah, and three children: Sarah (5), Catherine (3) and Samuel (1). His elder sister is Ransley’s wife, Eliza, making them brothers-in-law. He farms a small piece of land but most of his time is given over to his ‘night work’ as a free-trader. He served his country courageously in the Napoleonic Wars but then deserted from the Royal Navy when peace came.

Violence, love, loyalty and betrayal among the smugglers who once terrorised the coasts of southern England. The true tale of the Aldingston Blues Gang retold as a gripping novel.

For ten years the Blues and the Burmarsh Gang fought each other and the Excise Men over the lucrative smuggling trade in Kent. The rivalry was bitter and the stakes were high. When the Excise Men caught the gang landing brandy at Welland more than 300 men were involved in the savage firefight that followed, and 25 men ended spread in a bloody mess on the marsh.

Behind the scenes the feud between the two leading smugglers, George Ransley and James Hogben, is played out in deadly earnest. While their men grow rich, get married or gamble away their loot, the intense struggle between Ransley and Hogben follows a twisted route through bloodshed, treachery and unsurpassed wealth as the men struggle to control the huge wealth to be gained by being the only smuggling gang supplying goods to the London market.

In this novel, Newell tells in gripping language of the passions and excitement of the days when smugglers ruled the night and law abiding folk hid indoors as the carts and wagons rolled by in the moonlight.

Meticulously researched and based on contemporary court papers and other records, “A Devil’s Dozen” recreates the vanished world of the smugglers and the deadly feud between the leading smugglers that would eventually tear the brotherhood apart and send the smugglers to the gallows or to convict settlements in Australia.

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