The History Of Whitby

The North Yorkshire Coast town of Whitby is steeped in history. Our timeline page is dedicated specifically to the history of our great town.

The information presented here is correct to the best of our knowledge, If you believe we have got anything wrong, or you would like to include significant events we may have missed then please let us know using the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Bullet points highlighted with green text are clickable for more information.

It all began here

  • God Built Whitby

The First Century AD

  • 0021 – Jesus visits Whitby on a fact finding tour of western Europe.

6th Century Whitby

  • Unknown Date – First Mulgrave Castle is built

7th Century

  • 614 – St Hilda (Hild Of Whitby) born
  • 657 – AD Saw the first monastery built at Whitby by Oswy King Of Northumberland
  • 657 – Hilda became the founding abbess of a new monastery at Whitby
  • 664 – Synod Of Whitby
  • 680 – AD Death Of Caedmon the first English poet
  • 680 – St Hilda Dies

800’s At Whitby

  • 867 – Whitby Abbey fell to Viking attack

11th Century Whitby

  • 1078 – Whitby Abbey re-founded by Regenfrith (Reinferd) a soldier monk, under the orders of his protector, the Norman, William de Percy

12th Century Whitby History

  • 1120 – A second Mulgrave  Castle, which occupied the entire width of the ridge, seems to have been Norman, presumably constructed by Nigel Fossard(d. about 1120), who obtained the property after the Norman Conquest.

1300’s At Whitby

  • First Whitby Piers, Some form of harbour protection at the mouth of the River Esk was present in the early 1300’s.

1400’s At Whitby

  • 1400 – Earliest reference to the 199 steps, construction dates to around 1400

1500’s At Whitby

  • 1539/1540 – Second Whitby Abbey destroyed by Henry 8th -Under  The Dissolution of the Monasteries
  • 1539 – The Cholmley family acquired Whitby Abbey and its land after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and lived in the abbey`s lodgings and the gatehouse until they built the Banqueting House. It is recorded at several sources including the book Whitby Law And Legend that the Abbey was ruined by The Cholmley Family who used stone and roofing materials to sure up Abbey house where they lived.
  • 1599 Father Nicolas Postgate Was Born At Egton Bridge


  • 1632 – West Pier was rebuilt using sandstone blocks
  • 1647 – Mulgrave Castle pulled down by order of Paraliament

1700’s In Whitby Town – The Main Years For Whitby Whaling

  • 1718 – Phipps family take ownership of Mulgrave Castle
  • 1728 – Captain James Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in a small village near Middlesbrough in Yorkshire.
  • 1745 – At the age of 17, Captain James Cook moved to the coast, settling in Whitby and finding work with a coal merchant.
  • 1752 – Whaling begins from the port of Whitby
  • 1760 William Scoresby (Senior) born in Cropton on the North Yorkshire Moors
  • 1762 – The nave at Whitby Abbey  fell
  • 1767 – The Whitby bridge has a drawbridge action similar to those seen in the Low Countries. It was designed by Robert Shout, the county engineer.
  • 1769 – The planet Venus was due to pass in front of the Sun, a rare event visible only in the southern hemisphere. The British government decided to send an expedition to observe the phenomenon. A more secret motive was to search for the fabled southern continent. Cook was chosen as commander of the Whitby-built HMS Endeavour. Those on board included astronomer Charles Green and botanist Joseph Banks.
  • 1769 – Captain Cook on the Endeavour arrived in Tahiti in April 1769
  • 1772 –  Not satisfied by his previous exploits, Captain James Cook set out on a second voyage to look for the southern continent.
  • 1779 William Scoresby (Junior) became an apprentice seaman
  • 1785/8 During this time, 20 Whitby whalers operated from Whitby, the largest number of whalers at any one period.
  • 1792/8 William Scoresby breaks all records at Whitby catching 60 whales.
  • 1798 Scoresby takes the command of “The Dundee ” owned by a London firm.

19th Century Whitby History

  • 1800′s (Unknown Date) – Strikland Family take ownership of Abbey land
  • 1800’s – When Cholera broke out during the 19th century, the dead were transported over the river to Tate Hill Pier
  • 1830 – Abbey tower crumbled
  • 1832Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), stayed in Whitby on many occasions. It is thought he drew his inspiration for his poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ from the nearby village of Sandsend
  • 1835 – Whitby’s First Swing Bridge The First Swing Bridge – The 1767 bridge was demolished in 1833 and a new bridge, designed by Francis Pickernell was built to replace it. It was completed in 1835.
  • 1834 – Robert Elliott Pannett Born(1834 – 1920)
  • 1853 – Francis Meadow (Frank) Sutcliffe Born (6 October 1853 – 31 May 1941)
  • 1861 – Charles Dickens is known to have visited Whitby and in a letter of 1861 to his friend Wilkie Collins, who was at the time in Whitby, Dickens says: “In my time that curious railroad by the Whitby Moor was so much the more curious, that you were balanced against a counter-weight of water, and that you did it like Blondin. But in these remote days the one inn of Whitby was up a back-yard, and oyster-shell grottoes were the only view from the best private room.”
  • 1872 – Billy Fortune opens first kipper house.
  • 1887Mulgrave Castle Inn falls into the sea.
  • 1897Bram Stoker writes Dracula

1900’s At Whitby

The New Milenium