Historical and geographical information
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Contextual history is in purple.
This webpage about the Whitby has the following section headings:
The Farndales of Whitby
The Whitby 1 Line are the descendants of John Farndale, born 1636 (FAR00087) who started a line of Farndales in Whitby by the 1660s. John was the first of the Whitby Farndales. His son Thomas Farndale, born 1682 (FAR00118) was a carpenter in Whitby. His grandson, Francis Farndale, born 30 September 1711 (FAR00135) was a carpenter of Whitby. His grandson Giles Farndale (FAR00137) served in the Royal Navy. It seems very likely that he was press-ganged at Whitby, probably in 1740 when he would have been 27 years old. His grandson John Farndale, born 1711 (FAR00136) lived in Whitby and sailed with Captain Cook and the Whitby 2 Line were the descendants of John.
The Whitby 4 Line were the descendants of John Farndale (FAR00198), born 1774, a carpenter of Whitby. His son John Farndale (FAR00244) 1802-1837 was a painter, farmer, then master mariner of Whitby. His grandson William Farndale (FAR00289) 1825-1887 was a master mariner of Whitby whose wife Ann nee Brown ran a lodge house. His grandson Thomas Farndale (FAR00300), born 1828 was a ship’s broker’s clerk. His grandson John Christopher Farndale (FAR00308), born 1830 was a master mariner of Whitby who later moved to Cambridgeshire.
His granddaughter Mary Ann Farndale (FAR00320), born 1822 was a shawl and bonnet maker of Whitby. The Whitby 5 Line were the descendants of John Farndale (FAR00210), born 1788, a farmer. His son William Farndale (FAR00257) became an innkeeper at Egton
Many of the fifth generation of the Whitby 1 Line worked in the Flowergate area of Whitby.
Other Farndales associated with Whitby were: Ann Farndale (FAR00100A); Mary Farndale (FAR00142); William Farndale (FAR00152); Ann Farndale (FAR00165); Hannah Farndale (FAR00174); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00175); Mary Farndale (FAR00186); Mary Farndale (FAR00190); John Farndale (FAR00196); William Farndale (FAR00207); Hannah Farndale (FAR00211); Francis Farndale (FAR00212A); Margaret Farndale (FAR00213); Wilson Farndale (FAR00227); John Farndale (FAR00230); William Farndale (FAR00243); John Farndale (FAR00265), a sailor of Whitby; Mary Farndale (FAR00298); Peter Wallis Farndale (FAR00343); Hannah Farndale (FAR00348); Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00350A); Mary Jane Farndale (FAR00352); Sarah Farndale (FAR00357); Mary Ann Farndell (FAR00359); John Farndale (FAR00365); Jane Ann Farndale (FAR00371); John William Farndale (FAR00501); Louisa Farndale (FAR00518); Mary Farndale (FAR00526); Sarah Ann Farndale (FAR00556); Hannah Farndale (FAR00567); Sarah Ann Farndale (FAR00568); Annie Elizabeth Farndale (FAR00599); Catherine Jane Farndale (FAR00601); Frank Farndale (FAR00616); Mary Alice Farndale (FAR00630); Annie Farndale (FAR00637); George Farndale (FAR00646A), Served in East Yorkshire Regiment in World War 1; Ethel Farndale (FAR00658); Joseph Salvatori Farndale; (FAR00705); Alice Jane Farndale (FAR00753); Doris S Farndale (FAR00789); Violet Farndale (FAR00849); Miriam W Farndale (FAR00905); Jean Farndale (FAR00907); Lydia A Farndale (FAR00991)
References to the Farndale family in Whitby baptismal registers, 1768 to 1789 include 1769 October 28th Farndale, Elizabeth (FAR00193) daughter of William and Elizabeth (sailor) born 12 October Whitby; 1772 October 26th Farndale, Robert (FAR00197) son of William and Elizabeth sailor born 11 October Whitby; 1786 February 5th Farndale, Francis (FAR00206) son of Thomas and Jane Carpenter born 3rd February Whitby ; 1786 April 18th Farndale, William (FAR00207) illegitimate son of Frances spinster born 11th April Whitby; 1788 January 27th Farndale, William (FAR00209) son of Thomas and Jane carpenter born 22 November Whitby; 1789 July 16th Farndale, Margaret (FAR00213) illegitimate daughter of Frances spinster born 2nd May Whitby.
Whitby is a seaside town, port and civil parish in the Scarborough borough of North Yorkshire, England. Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby has a maritime, mineral and tourist heritage. Its East Cliff is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where Cædmon, the earliest recognised English poet, lived.
The fishing port emerged during the Middle Ages, supporting important herring and whaling fleets, and was where Captain Cook learned seamanship.
Tourism started in Whitby during the Georgian period and developed with the arrival of the railway in 1839. Its attraction as a tourist destination is enhanced by the proximity of the high ground of the North York Moors national park and the heritage coastline and by association with the horror novel Dracula. Jet and alum were mined locally, and Whitby Jet, which was mined by the Romans and Victorians, became fashionable during the 19th century.
Whitby was called Streanæshalc, Streneshalc, Streoneshalch, Streoneshalh, and Streunes-Alae in Lindissi in records of the 7th and 8th centuries. Prestebi, meaning the "habitation of priests" in Old Norse, is an 11th century name. Its name was recorded as Hwitebi and Witebi, meaning the "white settlement" in Old Norse, in the 12th century, Whitebi in the 13th century and Qwiteby in the 14th century.
Until recently the only evidence of the Roman presence in this area was a soldier’s helmet and a few coins, which were found at Guisborough and the Signal Station on Huntcliff.
The earliest record of a permanent settlement is in 656, when as Streanæshealh it was the place where Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria, founded the first abbey, under the abbess Hilda. A monastery was founded at Streanæshealh in AD 657 by King Oswiu or Oswy of Northumbria, as an act of thanksgiving, after defeating Penda, the pagan king of Mercia. At its foundation, the abbey was an Anglo-Saxon 'double monastery' for men and women. Its first abbess, the royal princess Hild, was later venerated as a saint. The abbey became a centre of learning and here Cædmon the cowherd was "miraculously" transformed into an inspired poet whose poetry is an example of Anglo-Saxon literature. The abbey became the leading royal nunnery of the kingdom of Deira, and the burial-place of its royal family.
The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes, Whitby, 1923: The Saxon history of the town begins with the introduction of Christianity into Northumbria. King Edwin and his kinswoman Hilda, then a child, were baptized in 627. Edwin's successor Oswy had vowed to grant lands for monastic purposes if he should defeat the pagan Penda, and it was possibly in connexion with his victory at Winwaed (655) that Hilda obtained possession of her lands at Whitby and built the monastery. Here King Edwin's headless body, which had lain since 633 at Hatfield, was brought for burial, and here the famous synod of 'Streoneshalch' was held in 664.
The Synod of Whitby was held there in 664. The famous synod established the Roman date of Easter in Northumbria at the expense of the Celtic one
The monastery was destroyed between 867 and 870 in a series of raids by Vikings from Denmark under their leaders Ingwar and Ubba. Its site remained desolate for more than 200 years until after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
The Victoria County History – Yorkshire, A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2 Parishes, Whitby, 1923: Streoneshalch was laid waste by Danes in successive inroads (867–70) under Ingwar and Ubba, and was said to have remained desolate for more than 200 years ; but the existence of 'Prestebi' at the Domesday Survey may point to the revival of religious life in Danish times. The Danish town of Whitby was presumably of some importance, as close to it was apparently held the Danish Thing, and nearly all the places in the district in 1086 bore Danish names. Whitby was geldable before the Conquest at the large sum of £112.
Another monastery was founded in 1078. It was in this period that the town gained its current name, Whitby (from "white settlement" in Old Norse).
After the Conquest, the area was granted to William de Percy who, in 1078 donated land to found a Benedictine monastery dedicated to St Peter and St Hilda.William de Percy's gift included land for the monastery, the town and port of Whitby and St Mary's Church and dependent chapels at Fyling, Hawsker, Sneaton, Ugglebarnby, Dunsley, and Aislaby, five mills including Ruswarp, Hackness with two mills and two churches.
In about 1128 Henry I granted the abbey burgage in Whitby and permission to hold a fair at the feast of St Hilda on 25 August. A second fair was held close to St Hilda's winter feast at Martinmas. Market rights were granted to the abbey and descended with the liberty.
Whitby Abbey surrendered in December 1539 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
In 1540 the town had between 20 and 30 houses and a population of about 200. The burgesses, who had little independence under the abbey, tried to obtain self-government after the dissolution of the monasteries. The king ordered Letters Patent to be drawn up granting their requests, but it was not implemented.
In 1550 the Liberty of Whitby Strand, except for Hackness, was granted to the Earl of Warwick who in 1551 conveyed it to Sir John York and his wife Anne who sold the lease to the Cholmleys.
In the reign of Elizabeth I, Whitby was a small fishing port.
At the end of the 16th century Thomas Chaloner visited alum works in the Papal States where he observed that the rock being processed was similar to that under his Guisborough estate. At that time alum was important for medicinal uses, in curing leather and for fixing dyed cloths and the Papal States and Spain maintained monopolies on its production and sale. Chaloner secretly brought workmen to develop the industry in Yorkshire, and alum was produced near Sandsend Ness 5 km from Whitby in the reign of James I. Once the industry was established, imports were banned and although the methods in its production were laborious, England became self-sufficient. Whitby grew significantly as a port as a result of the alum trade and by importing coal from the Durham coalfield to process it.
In 1635 the owners of the liberty governed the port and town where 24 burgesses had the privilege of buying and selling goods brought in by sea.
Shipbuilding in Whitby increased very
rapidly during the 18th century. In 1700 113 sailboats of small tonnage were
constructed. By 1734, 130 ships of 80 tonnes and upwards were built and by 1776:
251 ships of 80 tonnes and upwards.
It was the coastal trade which absorbed the majority of these ships and in particular, the coal trade. Coal was shipped at Newcastle, Sunderland and Shields for London and the east coast ports, the main part being for the Capital. It was imported into Whitby both the domestic use and in the alum works. In 1690, 60 tons of kelp were shipped from Berwick on Tweed to Whitby for use in the manufacture of alum and presumably this was not an isolated instance as the alum trade persisted throughout the century in various states of economic decline and recovering.
1701 to 1713
The War of Spanish succession.
In 1731 Whitby imported coals from Newcastle and Sunderland and wine, linen, nails, firkin staves, bricks, clog wheels (cart wheels of thick plank without spokes), and timber from Hull. There were also three cargoes of miscellaneous goods from London. 27 shipments left the port that year, one of alum for Newcastle, one of alum for Alloa and 25 for London which consisted of alum, dried fish and butter. (Willan).
The War of Jenkins Ear
1740 to 1748
The War with Austrian succession
Whitby about 1750
1751 to 1757
War in India.
Whale fishing began in Whitby in 1753 and the vessels were sometimes used in the coal trade during the autumn and winter months and then adapted for whaling in the summer. In 1753 the first whaling ship set sail to Greenland and by 1795 Whitby had become a major whaling port.
Because of the increase in shipbuilding, large quantities of timber came into the town. Most of it was from the Baltic direct or via Hull along the coast. Whitby registered ships traded with the Baltic from Hull and London and were also engaged in the trade in the West Indies, Mediterranean, America and the East Indies. So Whitby seamen employed on locally owned ships would have picked them up at ports around the country.
There are vague hints that certain
Whitby merchants were involved with the slave trade but no definite evidence
has come to light and certainly nothing to connect the port with slave ships.
Luxury goods such as wine, tea, coffee, sugar, spices, currents, raisins, fine dress materials and tobacco would come along the coast from London or Hull.
One final use to which would be ships were put is that of transport vessels in time of war. The Navy board commandeered the privately owned vessels and paid well for their use, granting adequate recompense in the event of loss. The crew would not fare so well if they were all pressed into the Royal Navy.
1756 to 1763
Seven years’ war with France.
1776 to 1783
American War of Independence.
Whitby benefited from trade between the Newcastle coalfield and London, both by shipbuilding and supplying transport. In his youth the explorer James Cook learned his trade on colliers, shipping coal from the port. HMS Endeavour, the ship commanded by Cook on his voyage to Australia and New Zealand, was built in Whitby in 1764 by Tomas Fishburn as a coal carrier named Earl of Pembroke. She was bought by the Royal Navy 1768, refitted and renamed.
Whitby grew in size and wealth, extending its activities to include shipbuilding using local oak timber. In 1790–91 Whitby built 11,754 tons of shipping, making it the third largest shipbuilder in England, after London and Newcastle. Taxes on imports entering the port raised money to improve and extend the town's twin piers, improving the harbour and permitting further increases in trade.
Whitby developed as a spa town in Georgian times when three chalybeate springs were in demand for their medicinal and tonic qualities. Visitors were attracted to the town leading to the building of "lodging-houses" and hotels particularly on the West Cliff.
Young gives the imports for 1790 as timber, hemp, flax, ashes (for soap), and iron. He makes no mention of coal that must have featured high on the list. Exports were sailcloth (7,300 bolts), butter (1,309 firkins), hams and bacons (21 tonnes 19cwts 3 qts 10 lbs), oats (4,094 qts) ad leather (33,615 lbs). Alum and whale oil, blubber, whale fins and whale bone also formed part of the export trade.
1793 to 1815
Whitby’s most successful whaling year was 1814 when eight ships caught 172 whales, and the whaler, the Resolution's catch produced 230 tons of oil. The carcases yielded 42 tons of whale bone used for 'stays' which were used in the corsetry trade until changes in fashion made them redundant. Blubber was boiled to produce oil for use in lamps in four oil houses on the harbourside. Oil was used for street lighting until the spread of gas lighting reduced demand and the Whitby Whale Oil and Gas Company changed into the Whitby Coal and Gas Company. As the market for whale products fell, catches became too small to be economic and by 1831 only one whaling ship, the Phoenix, remained.
Burgage tenure continued until 1837, when by an Act of Parliament, government of the town was entrusted to a board of Improvement Commissioners, elected by the ratepayers.
The 1837 Poo Law valuation of Whitby was a list of every property in the township of Whitby in Yorkshire in the year 1837, that is 2,435 houses, tenements, shops, offices and other places. The valuation included the occupier of the property, its owner, a description and its rateable value.
In 1834, the New Poor Law came into
operation in England and Wales. As part of this, parishes were grouped into
Poor Law Unions. These were administered locally by a Board of Guardians,
elected by each parish or township, and answerable to a central Poor Law
Commission, based in London. Those families who could not fend for
themselves were either given money or food to sustain themselves (known as
out-relief) or were taken into a Union Workhouse, where the workhouse master
and his staff would take care of their immediate needs. However, the workhouse
was segregated by sex and the inmates were expected to perform laborious tasks
in return for their food and lodging, so this was an option that the poor
avoided whenever possible. The funds to pay for the relief of the poor
were collected from the population of the township or parish, according to the
value of the property they occupied. The value of each property, or more
particularly, the rent it would fetch if rented for a year, was assessed. The
local Board of Guardians would decide how much they needed in each year and
each householder was liable for a proportion of this, depending on the annual
rateable value of his property.
In 1837, the Board of Guardians for the Whitby Union came to the conclusion that the rateable values that they had been using prior to that date was out of date. They requested permission from the Poor Law Commission to conduct a new valuation. When this was granted, in order to record the annual rateable value of each property, the Board of Guardians appointed a valuer. He wrote a list of properties with their owners, occupiers and their rateable values, presumably by walking around the town and interviewing people. This list was published by a local printer so that people could check that their rateable value was correct and also that no-one else was being charged too low a rate. A copy of the list was sent to the Poor Law Commission and it is that copy that I have transcribed.
A transcription has been made by me in the National Archives at Kew. The original record is at the National Archives at Kew, in reference MH12/14656. This is a large volume, ordered approximately in date order. It contains the correspondence sent to the Poor Law Commissioners regarding the Whitby Union and copies of their responses, from 1834 to 1843. The valuation is towards the end of the 1837 section. More information relating to the National Archives and how to view the documents they hold can be found on their website
In 1839, the Whitby and Pickering Railway connecting Whitby to Pickering and eventually to York was built, and played a part in the town's development as a tourism destination.
George Hudson, who promoted the link to York, was responsible for the development of the Royal Crescent which was partly completed. For 12 years from 1847, Robert Stephenson, son of George Stephenson, engineer to the Whitby and Pickering Railway, was the Conservative MP for the town promoted by Hudson as a fellow protectionist.
Whitby town from Abbey Terrace, sketched on 3 October 1861
The advent of iron ships in the late 19th century and the development of port facilities on the River Tees led to the decline of smaller Yorkshire harbours. The Monks-haven launched in 1871 was the last wooden ship built Whitby and a year later the harbour was silted up.
From the mid 19th century all of Whitby 's major traditional industries, wailing, alum, shipbuilding and fishing, faced the growing challenge of changing markets add new technological innovation. It was a town in relative decline.
The black mineraloid jet, the compressed remains of ancestors of the monkey-puzzle tree, is found in the cliffs and on the moors and has been used since the Bronze Age to make beads. The Romans are known to have mined it in the area. In Victorian times jet was brought to Whitby by pack pony to be made into decorative items. It was at the peak of its popularity in the mid-19th century when it was favoured for mourning jewellery by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert.
Whitby became a town of two halves.
There was the impressive grandeur of the West side of the river Esk which housed the professional classes and accommodated a growing tourist industry.
In contrast, the east side of the river was a place of gross inequality of income and wealth. It was in large part a ghetto of small houses, stacked together lining narrow streets and yards clinging to the east side cliffs. It provided accommodation for the poor of Whitby, the destitute, the unemployed, the unskilled and skilled artisans, who provided the labour for the towns remaining shipbuilding and fishing industries and serviced the growing needs of the west side residents.
Flowergate, late nineteenth century
In 1891 the census records showed an average age of Whitby's population of 13,414 to be just 27 years old. There were extremely high levels of infant mortality among those who lived on the east side of the town.
On 30 October 1914, the hospital ship Rohilla was sunk, hitting the rocks within sight of shore just off Whitby at Saltwick Bay. Of the 229 people on board, 85 lost their lives in the disaster; most are buried in the churchyard at Whitby.
In a raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in December 1914, the town was shelled by the German battlecruisers Von der Tann and Derfflinger. In the final assault on the Yorkshire coast the ships aimed their guns at the signal post on the end of the headland. Whitby Abbey sustained considerable damage in the attack which lasted ten minutes. The German squadron responsible for the strike escaped despite attempts made by the Royal Navy.
The Whitby Gazette of 31 January 1919 published a letter objecting to dark, damp and crowded housing on the east side, declaring them to be far worse than the London slums in the East End and advocating that: “The unhealthy houses be pulled down, the streets widened, and that Whitby shall be made into a place of health and beauty... then will be the time for artists to paint Whitby with its red tiled roofs that are water tight.”
During the early 20th century the fishing fleet kept the harbour busy and few cargo boats used the port. It was revitalised as a result of a strike at Hull docks in 1955 when six ships were diverted and unloaded their cargoes on the fish quay.
Endeavour Wharf, near the railway station, was opened in 1964 by the local council.
The number of vessels using the port in 1972 was 291, increased from 64 in 1964. Timber, paper and chemicals are imported while exports include steel, furnace-bricks and doors. The port is owned and managed by Scarborough Borough Council since the Harbour Commissioners relinquished responsibility in 1905.
Bram Stoker arrived at Mrs Veazey’s guesthouse at 6 Royal Crescent, Whitby, at the end of July 1890. As the business manager of actor Henry Irving, Stoker had just completed a gruelling theatrical tour of Scotland. It was Irving who recommended Whitby, where he’d once run a circus, as a place to stay. Stoker, having written two novels with characters and settings drawn from his native Ireland, was working on a new story, set in Styria in Austria, with a central character called Count Wampyr.
Stoker had a week on his own to explore before being joined by his wife and baby son. Mrs Veazey liked to clean his room each morning, so he’d stroll from the genteel heights of Royal Crescent down into the town. On the way, he took in the kind of views that had been exciting writers, artists and Romantic-minded visitors for the past century.
The favoured Gothic literature of the period was set in foreign lands full of eerie castles, convents and caves. Whitby’s windswept headland, the dramatic abbey ruins, a church surrounded by swooping bats, and a long association with jet, a semi-precious stone used in mourning jewellery, gave a homegrown taste of such thrilling horrors.
Bram Stoker photographed in about 1906
High above Whitby, and dominating the whole town, stands Whitby Abbey, the ruin of a once-great Benedictine monastery, founded in the 11th century. The medieval abbey stands on the site of a much earlier monastery, founded in 657 by an Anglian princess, Hild, who became its first abbess. In Dracula, Stoker has Mina Murray, whose experiences form the thread of the novel, record in her diary: Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes … It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.
Below the abbey stands the ancient parish church of St Mary, perched on East Cliff, which is reached by a climb of 199 steps. Stoker would have seen how time and the weather had gnawed at the graves, some of them teetering precariously on the eroding cliff edge. Some headstones stood over empty graves, marking seafaring occupants whose bodies had been lost on distant voyages. He noted down inscriptions and names for later use, including ‘Swales’, the name he used for Dracula’s first victim in Whitby.
On 8 August 1890, Stoker walked down to what was known as the Coffee House End of the Quay and entered the public library. It was there that he found a book published in 1820, recording the experiences of a British consul in Bucharest, William Wilkinson, in the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (now in Romania). Wilkinson’s history mentioned a 15th-century prince called Vlad Tepes who was said to have impaled his enemies on wooden stakes. He was known as Dracula. the ‘son of the dragon’. The author had added in a footnote: Dracula in the Wallachian language means Devil. The Wallachians at that time … used to give this as a surname to any person who rendered himself conspicuous either by courage, cruel actions, or cunning.
While staying in Whitby, Stoker would have heard of the shipwreck five years earlier of a Russian vessel called the Dmitry, from Narva. This ran aground on Tate Hill Sands below East Cliff, carrying a cargo of silver sand. With a slightly rearranged name, this became the Demeter from Varna that carries Dracula to Whitby with a cargo of silver sand and boxes of earth.
So, although Stoker was to spend six more years on his novel before it was published, researching the landscapes and customs of Transylvania, the name of his villain and some of the novel’s most dramatic scenes were inspired by his holiday in Whitby. The innocent tourists, the picturesque harbour, the abbey ruins, the windswept churchyard and the salty tales he heard from Whitby seafarers all became ingredients in the novel.
In 1897 Dracula was published. It had an unpromising start as a play called The Undead, in which Stoker hoped Henry Irving would take the lead role. But after a test performance, Irving said he never wanted to see it again. For the character of Dracula, Stoker retained Irving’s aristocratic bearing and histrionic acting style, but he redrafted the play as a novel told in the form of letters, diaries, newspaper cuttings and entries in the ship’s log of the Demeter.
The log charts the gradual disappearance of the entire crew during the journey to Whitby, until only the captain is left, tied to the wheel, as the ship runs aground below East Cliff on 8 August, the date that marked Stoker’s discovery of the name ‘Dracula’ in Whitby library. A ‘large dog’ bounds from the wreck and runs up the 199 steps to the church, and from this moment, things begin to go horribly wrong. Dracula has arrived.
Links, texts and books
Finch, Roger Coals from
Newcastle Terence Dalton, Lavenham, Suffolk 1973.
Trevelyan, GM A short history of England Penguin, 1942.
Willan, T. S. The English coasting trade 1600 - 1750 Manchester University 1938.
Young, George History of Whitby, two volumes Clark and Medd, Whitby 1817.