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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Teesside

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Myths and Legends
Two smugglers
Smugglers discussing their next adventure

© Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
Saltburn smugglers: local heroes or violent criminals?

Smuggling was an accepted way of life for the Cleveland coastal villages of Saltburn, Staithes and Marske in the late 18th and early 19th Century. It was a community affair, with entire villages turning out to help secrete contraband goods, before the arrival of preventive officers. Smugglers were portrayed in folklore and local legend as harmless men, who were merely avoiding an unlawful tax. For years, Saltburn man, John Andrews, managed to gain acceptance in the area’s gentrified circles and serve in a local law enforcement unit, despite being the most notorious smuggler in the area. The fact that Andrews managed to combine the conflicting and contradictory attributes of respectability and law-breaking demonstrates the curious middle ground smuggling occupied.

But were these smugglers really “a large, warm-hearted appreciative lot” as Reverend F. Grant described them in the late 19th Century. On further research, it becomes obvious that these smugglers were not averse to using violence and intimidation to protect their lucrative illegal trade. The legend of the cheerful, lovable smuggler, or the legend of the vicious criminal privateer, which are we to believe? More...

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Your comments

1 chris Holwell from leconfield - 16 January 2004
"John andrews smuggled from france "

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Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

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Internet Links
Smuggling: The house detective
Trade and the British Empire
Saltburn Smugglers Heritage Centre
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