Hawker described the bulk of his parishioners as a "mixed multitude of smugglers, wreckers and dissenters of various hues."
CHOUANS (a Bas-Breton word signifying screech-owls), the name applied to smugglers and dealers in contraband salt, who rose in insurrection in the west of France at the time of the Revolution and joined the royalists of La Vendee.
In later years Winchelsea became a great resort for smugglers, and the vaults originally constructed for the Gascon wine trade were used for storing contraband goods.
The coastmen were expert smugglers and wreckers, the agriculturists were ignorant and drunken, the parish clergy were slothful, in many cases intemperate, and largely given to fox-hunting.
Collecting a band of peasants and smugglers, he took the château of Gallais, where he captured a cannon, christened by the Vendeans the "Missionary"; he then took the towns of Chemille, Cholet, Vihiers and Chalonnes (March 1793).