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Middlesbrough pre 1800s

The town of Middlesbrough, or Mydilsburgh as it was known in the olden days, was a small hamlet up until the 19th century, baring little resemblance to the area you're so familiar with. 

The first record of Middlesbrough was in 686. At this time most of the settlements around Middlesbrough were owned by the church; more specifically Whitby Abbey and its monks. For the centuries proceeding, much of Teesside and Cleveland was owned by wealthy landowners, building grand fortresses and castles. A few you might have heard of are Kilton Castle and Stockton Castle.

Scroll down to visit some fascinating areas in and around Middlesbrough which date from this time.

et Dunelmensis Episcopatus, 1633

et Dunelmensis Episcopatus 1633

This map shows the area of Teesside in the 17th century. You'll notice how different the places are spelled!

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You may know this, but a famous explorer was born in Middlesbrough named James Cook. He was born to a local mother and a Scottish farmer at Marton, which was then a village. His love of the sea and exploration came from his time working in Staithes, just down the coast, where he worked as a shop boy.

After completing his qualifications and spending many years out at sea between Newcastle and London, he was inducted into the Navy and first set sail on HMS Eagle during the Seven Years War

Some years later, as an experienced sailor, he took part in a research expedition for the Royal Navy onboard HMS Endeavour which was actually made down the road in Whitby. His first voyage started in 1768 following the movements of the planet Venus, and took him all the way to the Pacific which is where the countries of Australia and New Zealand can be found.

Cook actually made 3 voyages during the 1770s.  The second almost took Cook to Antarctica, but turned another direction and encountered the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, Easter Island as well as others. As well as this, he mapped the eastern coastline of Australia, and put to rest the myth in Britain of 'Terra Australis'

It was the third voyage that was to be Cook's last. On the face of it, Cook returned to bring a young man named Omai back to his homeland after meeting earlier in the decade. However, the Navy used this as a way to find a new naval path through Canada, rather than South America. Cook encountered various indigenous groups on his travels, including Hawaii. It was here that Captain Cook died, after attempting to kidnap the King of Hawai'i Kalaniʻōpuʻu to subdue the native population. 

Though we can celebrate the achievements Cook made in advancing our understanding our world, he did little to understand the native peoples in the Pacific. He disrespected and they retaliated. It is very important to consider every dimension when discussing Captain Cook as well as other explorers of the period, as well as coming to terms with the fact many of these areas were not empty islands, but filled with rich and fascinated cultures that were not understood by the British.

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