Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Thomas King of Kirkleatham, brewer & smuggler

Was Captain Thomas King of Wapping related to Thomas King of Kirkleatham? 

No link has been found, but later descendants of the Jacksons of Lackenby certainly speculated about a possible connection.

Thomas King of Kirkleatham was the partner of John Andrew, the famous smuggler of Saltburn.

Smuggling was from 1700 to 1850 an enormous illegal industry:
Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 26 December 1769 
Accounts from Redcar, Saltburn, and several other places on the Yorkshire coast, mention that the smuggling trade never was carried to so great a height as at present.  The great number of country people that daily attend the coast, (and who seem to have no other employ but to convey off the goods) is almost incredible. – The revenue officers are very active, and have made several considerable seizures; yet notwithstanding their vigilance, it does not appear possible to suppress this pernicious trade, which is highly detrimental to the revenue and fair trader unless the Honourable Commssioners of his Majesty’s customs please to order a sufficient number of cutters with experienced commanders to be stationed upon the coast at proper distances:  This would certainly have the desired effect, and also prevent wool and sheep being exported, which there is great reason to believe that those delinquents are frequently guilty of. –  That our woollen manufactories have for several years past been upon the declension, is an alarming truth; and certain it is, that the French, thro’ the cheapness of labour, and (it’s to be feared) by getting materials from England, have been enabled to undersell us in foreign markets
The work of the Revenue men was both unpopular and dangerous:
Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 20 April 1773 
Last week a smuggling cutter appeared off Witby [Whitby]: She is about 200 tons burthen, carries 14 carriage guns, besides swivels, &c. and about 50 stout men, several of whom were on shore near Saltburn, where they landed a great quantity of spirits, &c. and appear to be a very daring and desperate gang. – An officer belonging to the Customs near that place, endeavouring to seize some goods they had landed, very narrowly escaped with his life. – One of the King’s cutters gave chace to the smugglers, but finding the danger of such an attempt, thought it prudent to depart in peace. –  It is now evident that there is no way to put a stop to this illicit practice, but by repelling force to force.
Occasionally the forces of law were successful.  In the following case, the riding officers (mounted men charged with the duty of patrolling the coast) seized a fine cargo of gin and tea:
Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 31 January 1775 
Thursday se’ennight Mr William Fenwick, of Marsk, and Mr Macdonald, of Skiningrave [Skinningrove], riding officers, attacked a smuggler’s long boat, full mann’d, near Saltburn, and seized 58 casks of geneva, and four large bags of fine tea, which they brought off in defiance of the whole crew, and lodged it in the Custom-House warehouse.
For a lively account of the life of a riding officer, have a look at The Worst Jobs in History: Two Thousand Years of Miserable Employment by Tony Robinson (of Time Team and Blackadder) and David Willock!


John Andrew was born in Scotland in 1757.  By 1780 he was in the North Riding – he married Anne Harrison at Skelton-in-Cleveland that year.  This piece from a Newcastle paper shows the flourishing state of smuggling at the time:
Newcastle Courant, Saturday 5 August 1780  
On the 20th past a smuggling Lugger, under Dutch colours, carrying two six pounders, six four-pounders, a number of swivels, and 30 stout men, each armed with a long pistol and a cutlass, was taken by two of his Majesty’s cutters, as she was riding at anchor near Marsk and Saltburn, in Cleveland.  When the cutters appeared, the Lugger sent off a coble with 80 tubs of gin, (the remainder of 1000) each tub containing from 17 to 20 quarts, towards Marsk, which being observed by the headmost cutter, she sent out her long boat, well manned, to seize it, which they did.  During the chace the Smuggler fired two pieces of cannon at the long boat, without effect.  On seeing the other cutter coming up, all the smugglers, except two men and a boy, escaped in their long boats to Saltburn.  Had not the smuggler fired on the cutter’s men, she could not have been seized, as no uncustomed goods were found on board.

Nowadays Saltburn is much loved as a seaside resort by people of ages (including surfers) and is famous for its sands, its water-balanced cliff lift and its fine Victorian architecture – and also, of course, celebrated for its Phantom Knitters:



However, the resort was only built in the 1860s.  – Anne Weatherill of Guisborough mentions the building work in her diary entry of 4 March 1863:
"Saltburn will soon be a fashionable watering place – they are making rapid progress with the buildings which have a beautiful effect seen in emerging from the wood with blue blue sea for background."
The Saltburn of the C18 and early C19 was a small fishing hamlet known as a centre of smuggling activity.  John Andrew became landlord of the Ship Inn and was soon so successful that he was known as the "King of the Smugglers."
Leeds Intelligencer, Tuesday 10 January 1786 
Several smuggling vessels have lately been upon the coast in the neighbourhood of Whitby, and have landed great quantities of spirits near Staiths, Huntcliff, Saltburn, and other places in these parts; and near the mouth of the river Tees, large quantities of unmanufactured tobacco have been run, with other goods of value, part of which have been seized by the revnue officers.
Thomas King of Kirkleatham became his partner,  He was about ten years younger than John Andrew, and married his daughter.


Not content with receiving the smuggled goods, King and Andrew bought themselves a boat, the Morgan Rattler or Morgan Butler.  She was a lugger out of Flushing, and was commanded by a Captain Brown. 

They brought their cargoes into Saltburn and ran the cargoes up into the clay holes of Hob Hill, where they could be safely hidden awaiting distribution – this was very near the farm of William Weatherill, father of William Weatherill the Guisborough solicitor and his brother Thomas the brewer. 

Andrews and King appeared to be perfectly respectable citizens.  John Andrew was an officer in the local Volunteers and was Master of Foxhounds.  It was an easy matter for them to distribute their run goods – they passed the word to the gentry of the neighbourhood when they were all assembled at the meets of the local hunt.

In the 1841 Census, Thomas King was still farming at Kirkleatham at the age of 70, with his wife and children George (27), Mary (24), Elizabeth (18) and Robert (15).  His Will was made in 1845 and was witnessed by William Weatherill, the solicitor; he died in 1848. 

So, whether or not there was a family connection between Thomas King and William Weatherill’s wife Ann Jackson, it is certainly clear that the families knew each other – and that the Weatherill family had, one way and another, a longstanding acquaintance with Thomas King the smuggler and his associates.


For more information of the exploits of John Andrew, King of the Smugglers, and his son John, see these pages of the Skelton website:
Skelton 1823-1841
and
The Skelton Castle mortgage - in hock to the smugglers

and do enjoy the photo montage on their home page.




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