The story is founded on fact. In a village on the south coast of England, young Margaret Catchpole is being courted by two rivals, Will Laud, a smuggler, and Lieutenant Barry of the coast guards. She favours Laud, and when he escapes from custody after a government raid on the smugglers, Margaret steals a horse and tries to join him. In a fight with the coast guards, Laud is killed an Margaret is arrested for horse-stealing and transported to Botany Bay. Only part of the film survives today.