John Andrew - The Saltburn Smuggler

Ship Inn
The Rectory, Skelton.

John Andrew, Master Mason.
John Andrew, Master of Hounds.
Captain John Andrew, Volunteer Infantry.
John Andrew, SMUGGLER.

It is this last fact that makes John Andrew a more interesting addition to anyone's family tree.

It was while I was looking into my Maternal Grandmother's branch of the family, I came across John Andrew (My Great Great Grandfather) born in Skelton about 1819, He was listed in the 1871 Census as living at The Rectory, Skelton, and listed as keeper of Hunting Hounds.
I started searching the internet for anything connecting the Andrew family to Hunting, and low and behold I found John Andrew, Born in Scotland about 1757, He was a Publican, Master of Hounds, Captain in the Local Military and SMUGGLER.
Could John Andrew the Smuggler be related to me? I Needed to know More...

Here is what I have found..

John Andrew was born in Inverbervie, Scotland in 1757, The second son of James Andrew, a fisherman and Jean Kemlow, the Andrew's were a well connected Scottish family, originating from Fordoun, Kincardineshire.
John was an educated man and by 1778 he had attained the highest Degree of Master Mason at Kilwinnie Lodge, Montrose (The oldest Freemasons Lodge in the World).
Soon after this he moved south seeking employment to Saltburn on the Cleveland Coast, Upon his arrival he was questioned by the local 'Heavies' regarding the untimely death the previous day of the landlord of the Ship Inn, Will Harrison.
John managed to convince them that he had nothing to do with the death, in fact, John made such a good impression on the local community, he soon became landlord of the ship inn and took over the organization of the local smuggling operation, He also Married Will Harison's niece, Ann in 1780.

John was no angel and he had a terrible temper (after all he was a ginger haired Scotsman) John is believed to have killed a man called Jethro Mullins who had come to the Ship Inn to cause trouble, he grabbed Anne who was outside and John had come running out seeing what was happening he raised his gun and shot Jethro Mullins in the side of the head.
Jamie taylor, one of john's most trusted spies helped to dispose of the body of Jethro Mullins, Jamie later married Ann, John's daughter.

At the height of the smuggling era during the Napoleonic war, John went into partnership with Thomas King a brewer from Kirkleatham. Together they bought a lugger named "Morgan Rattler" to cut out the middle men.

The Morgan Rattler, a single masted Gaff rigged Lugger of about 75 tons had been used as a smuggling ship or 'Privateer' for many years and started life running spirit from Guernsey to the ports of Polperro and Flushing on the Cornish coast.
Captained by Caleb Harris Alias 'Skipper Slogan' and lately Captain Brown.
Several accounts of skirmishes with Government frigates are recorded all around the coast including Falmouth, Leith Roads, Clare Drummond Bay, Whitby and Saltburn.
She was believed to have been armed with at least 18, 6lb carriage guns and up to 100 crew, She had a reputation for being the fastest Lugger in the country.

Thomas King later also married one of John's daughters, Elizabeth.

In 1801 John was Commissioned as an ensign in the Cleveland Volunteer Force and over the next 8 years was promoted several times and eventually became Captain in the 3rd regiment.
The local regiment were often called upon to assist the coastguard in apprehending the smugglers.
It was not unheard of for the local military and coast guard, upon capturing the smugglers to take half of the cargo for themselves and then letting them go on there way.
John was often forewarned of any impending operation regarding smuggling activities, and evaded capture on more than one occasion. John's eldest son, John was also commissioned into the 3rd regiment of the Cleveland Volunteer force in 1813.

Ship Inn
Ship Inn at Saltburn, Smugglers headquarters.

During the summer of 1817 at a meeting of the local gentry in Loftus, The Roxby and Cleveland Hunt was formed and John was appointed as its master.
In 1820 John purchased 'The White House' public house a few hundred yards inland from the ship inn, using the proceeds from the smuggling, thus becoming part of 'The landed gentry' The White house became the Andrew family home and also somewhere to stash the elicit cargo before it could be distributed, most of the cargo was hidden beneath the floor of the end stall in the stable block were john would keep a vicious mare who would not let anyone but john near her.

For many years locals believed that there was a tunnel from the ship inn to the white house but people have looked for centuries for signs of passages but have found only places that would have served as good hiding places.

The saying 'Andrew's cow has calved' was part of the Saltburn smugglers code. It meant that the smugglers boat was offshore and ready to be unloaded.
When the code word was spread the community knew that the men needed to unload the goods, pack horses were then loaded up and used to transport the goods to a safe hiding place.

One story tells of a woman who hid a keg of spirits under her skirt during a spot raid of her house by customs officers.

It has long been believed that, after a lifetime of dodging the excise men, he was eventually caught in 1827 at Hornsea off-loading an illicit cargo.
However, as John Senior would have been 70 yrs old, it is more likely that it was his son John who was caught in the act, and was fined an enormous sum of £100,000 and, of course, unable to pay a fraction of the fine, was imprisoned in York castle.

After two years in prison, Henry Vansittart, of Kirkleatham, who had carried on the hounds during John's absence, was able to secure his release through the influence of his relative Lord Bexley, who was in the government.
From his release until his father died in 1835, he seemed to have been reduced to poverty, for he lived in a small cottage at Boosbeck and only had a grey pony, on which he hunted hounds twice a week.
The pony was "as hard as iron" but had a temper and would always run away with his master and was not particular as to the direction in which he bolted.
It was not uncommon to see the gallant grey tearing across country in quite another direction to that which the hounds were running.The pony never got a summer rest for then his owner yoked him to a cart and he carted stones, seaweed, or anything else at a job which earned John a few shillings.

End of an era

On John's death in 1835, the house and the smuggling passed to his son John, but the smuggling had been in decline and eventually stopped. John Jr had also taken over as master of the hunt.
When John Jr died in 1855, The house passed to his Son Thomas Pressick Andrew, who also became master of the hunt. It was while he was hunting he died of a heart attack in 1870, and the estate passed to his younger brother George.

It was George who made a loan to the Wharton family to build Skelton Castle in 1876
By 1891 the family owned several large houses in Saltburn including Glenhow & Grange Farm, On George's death, He left to his son George £26,000 (£3m today).
His other 11 children were to receive £3,000 each.

This division of the wealth seems to have been the downfall in the Andrew family fortunes.
In 1894 the White House was sold at auction by the direction of his father's will, for £5,000 (£600,000 today) and George was living in Ruby St and devoted his attention to breeding horses.

In 1900 George, age 36, for no apparent reason appears to have committed suicide.

According to the Daily Gazette 9th August 1900:
"Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday his landlady, Mrs Day, being out of the house at the time, the sounds of two shots were heard proceeding from his parlour.
Mr Joseph Toyn, the agent for the Cleveland Miners' Association, who lives next door, rushed in and found the unfortunate man lying back in his armchair with blood coming from a wound in his right temple.
His legs were crossed and while one hand covered the wound the other held a 6 chambered revolver. It would appear that Mr Andrew had fired a trial shot up the chimney and then placed the pistol to the side of his head and fired.
He was just able to recognize Mr Toyn before he relapsed into unconsciousness. Dr Burnett was sent for at once and on examining the wound found that the shot had forced the right eye out. The bullet was not found, having lodge deeply in the brain."

It is not known what happened to George's fortune, some believe it had been frittered away by other family members.


If you have a comment or suggestion , please use the SECURE form on the contact page.