The 91-year-old from Robin Hood's Bay who's just published his first book

91-year-old Dennis Crosby.
91-year-old Dennis Crosby.

A history enthusiast from Robin Hood’s Bay has just published his first book at the age of 91.

From his home in Kingston Garth, just a few hundred yards from where he was born, Dennis Crosby spent the last 30 years researching the origins of smuggling in the tiny fishing village.

His meticulous study, which looks at how Bay once became “the most prosperous place in the UK”, culminated in his first publication titled “Free-trading in Robin Hood’s Bay, 1600-1840s”.

“I used to work in a bank and there’s nothing more boring than working in a bank,” he said, “so as a sideline I’ve always done history and archaeology and things about Robin Hood’s Bay.

“It’s just my hobby and if you don’t have things like this when you retire you just become a vegetable.”

His interest in Robin Hood’s Bay inspired many of the unpublished books Dennis wrote over the years.

However, inspiring his last one was Dennis’ passion for genealogy and the involvement of his own family.

“I wanted to know why my ancestors from my father’s family came to Robin Hood’s Bay in the 1700s. I couldn’t understand why young boys would walk all the way from East Riding to settle here.

“Then I found out that it was simply because there was a lot of money to be made here and in just one night they’d earn the equivalent of two or three weeks working in a farm!”

As Dennis explained, smuggling in Robin Hood’s Bay started in the 1500s when villagers started bartering large amounts of fish with the Dutch. In return, they would get products such as tea and tobacco, which were then very sought-after and pricey to afford.

This, together with the high taxes imposed by George III to fund the American War, allowed smuggling to soar.

“At one point Robin Hood’s Bay was the most prosperous place in the UK,” he added, “and the best thing was that unlike in other towns where you’d get a few rich people everyone was rich in Bay. They shared it all out among everyone.”

Dennis’ book, published by Scarborough-based Farthings Publishing, is now on sale in shops in Robin Hood’s Bay, including the museum and post office.

Once the book has paid for itself, Dennis plans to give the copyright to Robin Hood’s Bay Museum so that his account of smuggling in the village can continue to inform others forever.