In the mid 1700’s Saltburn had a well known reputation for smuggling. Taxes were high on imported items and due to the war with the French, the most required items were scarce. The most highly taxed items were Brandy, Gin, tobacco, black tea and green tea. The local fishermen made excellent smugglers and knew the best places to hide their contrand.
John Andrew was probably the most famous smuggler in the Saltburn area. John Andrew was a Scotsman, born approx. 1761, who in 1780 became the landlord of the Ship Inn at Saltburn, he organized the local smuggling community and even had his own boat, the Morgan Rutter. He was by then a wealthy and much respected member of the community and as such, was not suspected of being a smuggler . He later became the President and Master of Fox Hounds. Eventually, he moved from the Ship Inn to the White House, which supposedly had a tunnel linking the two properties. As time passed, the authorities became more and more suspicious and after numerous tip offs and chases, he was finally arrested in Hornsea in 1827. Found guilty, he was jailed for two years in York Castle. After his release from jail, his health began to fail and he eventually died on November 14th 1835 at the age of seventy four . He was buried at the All Saints Churchyard which is near to Skelton Castle.
The wars with the French had ended and taxes had decreased making smuggling not as profitable. The Excise men and Coast Guards got more knowledgeable about the smugglers activities and their hiding places, the chance of being caught increased and so the amount of smuggling slowly dropped off.