- [early 19th century] (Creation)
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Robert Surtees was born in the South Bailey, Durham, on 1 April 1779, the son of Robert Surtees of Mainsforth and his wife Dorothy, daughter and heiress of William Steele, a director of the East India Company.
Surtees was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, and then became a student of Middle Temple until he inherited the Mainsforth estate on the death of his father in 1802. In 1807 he married Anne Robinson of Middle Herrington, County Durham.
A keen antiquary, Surtees had decided to write a history of the county of Durham whilst he was still at Oxford but it more than a decade for it to come to fruition. The work was first advertised in 1812 but it was not until 1816 that the first volume of the 'History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham' appeared, followed by a second volume in 1820 and a third in 1823. The final volume was published posthumously in 1840.
Robert Surtees died at Mainsforth on 11 February 1834. In May of that year a group of his friends, led by Reverend James Raine, founded the Surtees Society in his memory. The Society is still active and is dedicated to the publication of manuscripts concerning the history of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria.
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