Set in Plymouth in the year of our Lord 1755. A disastrous fire at the Eddystone lighthouse makes the Brown family change their occupation from servicing the lighthouse into working for the Custom and Excise.
Around Plymouth Sound, smugglers and revenue men are waging open warfare; with the smugglers winning the battle for getting contraband goods into Plymouth and South East Cornwall. To put it simply, the Browns now become Revenue men and are now spied upon and treated with suspicion by their neighbours and friends. However, due to his excellent seamanship skills Ben Brown and his son (another Ben), are now given a new cutter and contracted to clear the Smugglers out of Plymouth Sound.
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The Smugglers try everything to dissuade the Browns from stopping the flow of contraband including bribery and violence. When eventually all their plans fail to work, they try to arrange a romantic attachment with a daughter of the local smuggler. Nothing seems to work, the Brown’s continue to keep true to the Revenue Service, until gunpowder and the sword resolve everything in a momentous sea fight off the coast of Cornwall.
N.B All the places and most of the major events in this story are historically correct, as are some of the characters.