On the surface, Captain Thomas Armstrong was an upstanding, if sometimes over-zealous, member of HM Customs service, patrolling the north east coast of England against smugglers. However, an examination of the customs records at The National Archives revealed a different story, tied to the imposing house that Armstrong built on the cliffs at Cullercoats. Nick Barratt tells his amazing story and highlights the records as a rich source of 18th century family, local and social history.
Dr Nick Barratt works in The National Archives’ Advice and Records Knowledge department, but previously he ran a historical research agency and he was involved in researching and presenting a number of television series, including Who Do You Think You Are and House Detectives. He has published several books, most recently Greater London: The Story of the Suburbs. He also lectures regularly about history and the media. His specialist area of records knowledge is 13th century finance.