1710's brought major smuggling into the area with the Mayfield Gang
and their leader Gabriel Tomkins, a bricklayer from Tunbrige Wells,
bringing relatively non violent owling (Wool smuggling).
The gang consisted of local farmers and others , who smuggled their
own wool abroad, and brought in brandy and silks by return. They
usually made well organised trips to the coast with 20 - 30 armed men.
They were not cruel, and usually tied up people who crossed them, but
released them later, rather than killing them as per the later
Hawkhurst Gang and Groombridge Gang .
The gang originally used the beaches from Lydd to Fairlight to export
their goods, but from 1717 they also used the beaches from Hastings to
The Woolpack Inns are named after the owlers who used them as shipping
points for the packs of wool Brookland and Warehorne have one as have
other villages in the area.
In 1721 Gabriel was chased from Burwash to Nutley and arrested , the
gang without its leader broke up. The Mayfield Gang had wide support
from the local population as they only used violence if it was used
against them, and the profits they made went into the local community.
Other members of the gang were Jacob Walter and Thomas Bigg