Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Historical description

Grimsby, a parliamentary and municipal borough, a market-town, and a seaport in Lincolnshire. The town stands on the flat shores of the Humber, opposite Spurn Head, about 6 miles within the mouth of the Humber, which may be considered to begin at Spurn Point, 16 NNW from Louth, 18 SSE from Hull, and 155 from London by rail, and has railway communication, by direct lines or by facile connections, with every important part of Great Britain, the main lines being the M.S. & L.R. and the G.N.R. It is supposed to be the place where the Danes made their first landing when they invaded Britain about the end of the 8th century; it is said to have got its name, signifying " Grim's town," from a fisherman or merchant called Grim, who obtained great riches in consequence of having found and brought up an exposed child called Havelock or Havloc, who proved to be of the Danish blood-royal, and obtained a Danish princess in marriage; and it is thought to have been founded or restored by Grim after he became wealthy, and after the spot was in possession of the Danes. A recent translator of that part of the Domesday book which relates to Lincolnshire gives us another explanation of the word Grimsby. He derives it from the British words Gra, Mas, Buy; Gra meaning sacred, Moss entrenched mounds, and Buy a dwelling-that is, the dwelling of the mounds. An ancient British town appears to have stood adjacent, and is still indicated by numerous mounds or tumuli in the marshes. Seven of these, in the form of a crescent, and diversified with many barrows, mark the site of the ancient British town, and three lines of artificial embankments called beacons extend thence across the country in different directions, and seem to have led into communication with every part of the island. A stone, said to have been brought hither by the Danes, and known as Havelock's Stone, forms a landmark between Grimsby and Wellows. Great numbers of Roman, Saxon, Flemish, and Lombardic coins have been dug up in the neighbourhood, indicating a succession of occupancy and of traffic from very early times till those of the Hanseatic merchants, and of the merchants of Flanders and Lombardy. Ingnlphus and Peter Langtoft describe the landing of the Danes, and the writers of Norway and Iceland speak of Grimsby as a market frequented by the merchants of the northern and the western islands. The town evidently looks to have acquired importance and wealth at a period not long after the Danes' landing; it is one of the most ancient boroughs in the kingdom; it was a mayoralty in the time of King John; and it sent 11 ships and 171 mariners to the siege of Calais in the time of Edward III. Richard II. confirmed the charters of the town by reason of the men of Grimsby, with the men of Barton, having built a ship of war for the king according to the ordinances of his council; and that the soldiers furnished by Grimsby for the Scottish wars between 1297 and 1326 acquired a very high reputation, and the corporation received the public thanks of His Majesty for their services. But its harbour became gradually choked up, a dangerous sandbank was gradually formed across the harbour's mouth, and the trade of the place was transferred to Hull Toward the end of the 18th century, however, the harbour was greatly improved; in 1796-1800 wet and dry docks, at a cost of £70, 000, were constructed; about the same time a canal, calculated to admit vessels of 1000 tons, was cut into the Humber; and, in connection with these works being executed, hopes were entertained that, as a seaport, Grimsby would soon outrival Hull. The hopes were not all realized, but in 1849 the first stone of the fine new docks to which the subsequent rise of the port is due, was laid by the Prince Consort, and they were opened by the Queen in 1854. Although designed and commenced on a large scale, they have been continually extended since, and there is every likelihood of the work being continued.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Lincolnshire
Ecclesiastical parish Grimsby St. James
Poor Law union Caistor
Wapentake Bradley-Haverstoe

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Archives, have the following parish records online for Grimsby:

All Saints1888-19111905-19111898-1911
St Andrew1870-19111871-19111871-1910
St Augustine1905-1911
St Barnabas1876-1911
St Hugh1911-1911
St James1625-19111654-17951616-19111616-1910
St Luke1877-1911
St Paul1888-19111908-1911

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Great Grimsby from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Lincolnshire papers online:

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Wellow or Welhove