Birthplace: Mainsforth, Durham, England
Location of death: Mainsforth, Durham, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: History of Durham
English antiquary and topographical historian, was the son of Robert Surtees of Mainsforth, Durham. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and after studying law without being called to the bar he settled on the family estate at Mainsforth, which he inherited on his father's death in 1802, and where he lived in retirement for the rest of his life, devoting himself to the study of local antiquities and collecting materials for his History of Durham. This book was published in four volumes, the first of which appeared in 1816, and the last in 1840, after the author's death. The work contains a large amount of genealogical and antiquarian information; it is written in a readable style, and its learning is enlivened by humor. Surtees had also a gift for ballad writing, and he was so successful in imitating the style of old ballads that he managed to deceive Sir Walter Scott himself, who gave a place in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border to a piece by Surtees called "The Death of Featherstonehaugh", under the impression that it was ancient. Surtees, who in 1807 married Anne Robinson, died at Mainsforth on the 11th of February 1834. As a memorial of him the "Surtees Society" was founded in 1834 for the purpose of publishing ancient unedited manuscripts bearing on the history of the border country.
Father: Robert Surtees (d. 1802)
Wife: Anne Robinson (m. 1807)
University: Christ Church, Oxford University
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