Some research links on the so-called "King of the Smugglers".
Background, from the first link:
William Blyth (1753-1830) was both smuggler and prominent citizen. He was an oysterman, shopkeeper, member of the Parish Council, constable and possibly even a magistrate. He was part of a huge family of fishermen smugglers who would cross to Dunkirk and bring back tea, gin and tobacco - but especially tea that would make the smuggler a handsome profit. With Revenue officers few and far between, the Essex coast between Southend-in-Sea and Rochford was ideal smuggling country, honeycombed as it was with creeks and rivulets which returned to mud when the tide was out. When the tide was in, boats came in as close to the treacherous offshore sands as they could and unloaded their cargo onto flat-bottomed boats which would quietly float up the creeks and then go inland.