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Help and advice for Gainsborough

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it. We have a number of people each maintaining different sections of the web site, so it is important to submit information via a link on the relevant page otherwise it is likely to go to the wrong person and may not be acted upon.


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"Gainsborough is a market town in the parish of its name, wapentake of Coringham and parts of Lindsey - 150 miles N by W from London, 18 NW by N from Lincoln, 25 SSW from Hull, and 39 NE from Nottingham; pleasantly situate on the eastern bank of the River Trent, about thirty miles from its junction with the Humber. The Chesterfield Canal falls into the Trent at Keadby, a few miles below Gainsborough. This town appears to have been founded by a tribe of Saxons, soon after their first invasion of Britain."
"Lincolnshire Directory," Pigot & Co., 1841

Archives and Libraries

The Gainsborough Heritage Centre
12 North Street
Gainsborough DN21 2HS

Gainsborough Library
Cobden Street
Gainsboroug DN21 2NG



  • Gainsborough Cemetery, a half mile north of the town, was opened in 1846.
  • The parish churchyard was closed for burials on 1 September 1856.
  • A new parish cemetery was opened in 1875 on Cox's Hill.
  • Richard CROFT has a photograph of the Cemetery Chapel on Geo-graph, taken in May, 2009.
  • Both cemeteries are managed by the Gainsborough Town Council.



  • Gainsborough was part of the Gainsborough sub-district in the Gainsborough Registration District.
  • The North Lincolnshire Library holds copies of the census returns for 1841 through 1901.
  • We have a handful of entries extracted from the 1901 Census for you to search.
  • Check our Census Resource page for county-wide resources.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1841 H.O. 107 / 634
1851 H.O. 107 / 2119 & 2120
1861 R.G. 9 / 2408 & 2409
1871 R.G. 10 / 3444 - 46
1881 R.G. 11 / 3296
1891 R.G. 12 / 2634 & 2635
1901 R.G. 13 / 3113 & 3114
  • Below is a partial list of surnames found in the Gainsborough 1901 census returns, provided by [Alistair CHAFER]:
  • BELL
  • HILL
  • LOVE
  • RAW

Church History

  • This section has been moved to a new page because of its size. Please click on Church History.

Church Records

  • The parish register for All Saints dates from October 1564.
  • We have a partial parish register entry file for All Saints. You are welcome to add entries to this list.
  • Parish registers are on file at the Society of Genealogists, covering 1564 - 1640.
  • Burial register entries for All Saints (1813-1895) and Holy Trinity (1844-1900) are included in the National Burial Index (NBI).
  • The Lincolnshire FHS has published several marriage indexes for the Corringham Deanery to make your search easier.
  • The LFHS has published a marriage index for All Saints, 1754 - 1812, which is a reprint of the booklet on microfiche.
  • The Lincolnshire FHS has a Loan Library service which has the parish registers on microfiche for All Saints' marriages from 1837 to 1857.
  • The Congregational Chapel here was founded in 1602 and the present church built in 1897 to seat 600.
  • In 1866, the Roman Catholics had a small place of worship in Cross Street, dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. It is a read brick building with seating for 150.
  • In 1842, there were five non-Anglican chapels and meeting houses in the township of Gainsborough. The Wesleyan Methodists built one in 1804, the Primitive Methodists in 1838. Other chapels included the Independents, Baptists and the Society of Friends. Morton township had an Independent chapel built in 1796 and a Wesleyan one in 1840. East Stockwith township boasted a Wesleyan and a Primitive methodist chapel, both built around 1839. A Wesleyan chapel was built in Walkerwith township in 1834. For information and assistance in researching these chapels, see our non-conformist religions page.
  • Check our Church Records page for county-wide resources.

Civil Registration

  • The parish was in the Gainsborough sub-district in the Gainsborough Registration District.
  • Check our Civil Registration page for sources and background on Civil Registration which started in July, 1837.

Description and Travel

Gainsborough (sometimes found as Gainsburgh) is a parish and a market town 145 miles north of London and 18 miles north-west of Lincoln, on the eastern bank of the River Trent. The parish includes the townships of Gainsborough, Morton, East Stockwith and Walkerwith, and covered 7,870 acres in 1841. The hamlet of Thonock, to the north, is considered part of Gainsborough although it was a seperate civil parish for 80 years.

The township of Gainsborough covers about 3,530 acres and includes the hamlet of Thonock. Changes in civil boundaries reduced this to about 2,450 acres by 1913. If you are planning a visit:

You can see pictures of Gainsborough which are provided by:



Ask for a calculation of the distance from Gainsborough to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.


Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Gainsborough has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



  • In Saxon times, Gainsborough was sometimes part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, and at other times included in Mercia.
  • In 868, Alfred the Great celebrated his marriage with Ealswitha here.
  • In 1013, Sweyne, King of Denmark, brought his ships up the Trent and landed his forces in the town. Sweyne is believed to be buried near Gainsborough's Castle Hills.
  • Gainsborough was a small village when recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book, without even a church.
  • From the defeat of the Danes a few years later, until the Civil War, Gainsborough maintains a low historic profile.
  • Henry VIII visited the town in 1509 and 1540.
  • During the 16th century, the TOPPCLIFF family depopulated the hamlet of Somerby and turned it over to sheep. Their manor house there survived into the 1920s and was torn down then. Somerby is now a lost village of ancient Lincolnshire.
  • In June, 1643, during the Civil War, Lord Willoughby of Parham, a zealous Parliamentarian, took Gainsborough and made a prisoner of the local governor. The town changed hands several times in this conflict.
  • Gainsborough received its market charter from Charles II.
  • In 1787, parliament approved the building of a bridge across the Trent to Nottingham. The stone bridge, with three arches, was completed in 1791.
  • In 1815, the Ostrich Inn opened on Bridge Street. It was owned by James HOLE & Co Ltd. From 1882 to 1900 Mrs Eliza CROSBY was the Landlady and from 1913 to 1933 Tom SMITH was the Landlord.
  • In 1820, Gainsborough had increased river portage to the point that a Branch Custom House from the port of Hull was established in town. In 1841, Gainsborough was designated independent of Hull and given its own privilege of bonding. On 6 January 1841, the Port of Gainsborough was opened to foreign goods. Ships drawing up to 12 feet could navigate up the river Trent to Gainsborough. The primary cargo in the early 1800's was corn.
  • The first gas street lights were installed here in 1826.
  • In 1842, Marshalls of Gainsborough founded, bringing new lines of farm machinery.
  • In 1848, the Gainsborough Railway Station was opened.
  • A hiring fair for servants, the "Michaelmas Statute", was held annually on November 5th. This was in addition to the traditional "May Day Statute" for hiring servants, held on May 14th.


  • After the Norman Conquest, the Manor of Gainsborough was given to Geoffry de WIRCE, from whom it passed eventually to Nigel de ALBINI, whose son assumed the surname of MOWBRAY. After passing through a number of families, in 1599, Lord BURGH sold the manor to William HICKMAN of London. His son was created a baronet by Charles I.
  • Thonock Hall was the seat of the HICKMAN family, two miles northeast of the town. In 1842, it was owned by H. B. HICKMAN, lord of the manor.

Medical Records

  • In 1832, the town was visited by Cholera and out of 223 cases, 41 people died between June 5th and August 2nd.
  • The John Coupland Memorial Hospital was built on Ropery Road (near Morton parish) in 1912-1913. It was the gift of George COUPLAND of Hemswell, Lincolnshire.
  • The hospital had 36 beds. Hospitals were not required to archive patient records and most would be covered under "closure" regulations for privacy, however the Archives may have photographs of the hospital and financial records.
  • Richard CROFT has a photograph of the John Coupland Hospital on Geo-graph, taken in 2005.

Military History

  • At the beginning of the 1800s, with the threat of Napoleon's invasion pending, Gaisnborough raised a corps of volunteers under the command of Major John COATS of Morton.
  • In 1900, F Company of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, was quartered here. Captian T. KELSEY, commanding; Capt. H. D. MARSHALL, Surgeon-Lieut.; M.R.C.S.Eng.-Sergeant W. McGOWAN was the drill instructor.
  • In 1913, H Company of the 5th Territorial Force Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, was quartered here.
  • The Great War Bulletin for February 8th, 1915 tells us that seven Royal Engineers were drowned in an accident while training on a pontoon bridge over the Trent River.

Names, Geographical

  • The name derives from the Old English Gegn+burh, meaning "stronghold of a man named Gegn". It appears as Gainesburg in the 1086 Domesday Book.
    [A. D. Mills, "A Dictionary of English Place-Names," Oxford University Press, 1991].
  • The hamlet of Thonock is often pronounced as "Thunick".

Names, Personal



Gainsborough had three newspapers in 1900 but only two newspapers by 1913. See our Newspapers page for more information. Those 1900 papers were the:

  • Gainsborough Leader & Isle of Axholme Advertiser, published on Fridays. Offices at 6 Bridge Street.
  • Retford, Worksop & Isle of Axholme & Gainsborough News, published on Fridays. Offices at 32 Market Place.
  • Retford & Gainsborough Times & Worksop & Newark Weekly News, published on Fridays. Offices at 50 Trinity Street.

Politics and Government

  • The parish was in the ancient Wapentake of Corringham in the West Lindsey district and parts of Lindsey in the 19th century.
  • Morton (by Gainsborough) was formed as a separate civil parish from Gainsborough on 29 December 1846.
  • East Stockwith was formed as a separate ecclesiastical parish from Gainsborough on 29 December 1846 and includes the township of Walkerwith.
  • You may contact the Gainsborough Town Council regarding civic or political matters, but they are NOT funded to assist you with family history searches.
  • Today's district governance is provided by the West Lindsey District Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • No record of charities exist prior to 1664. Apparently the records were destroyed during the Civil War during the reign of Charles I by one of the occupying forces.
  • In 1664, John GILBY left a small piece of land for rental income. In 1842 it supported eight poor people.
  • In 1704, Sarah MOTT left the interest on £300 to be vested in trust for apprenticing three poor boys of Gainsborough.
  • In 1795, about 1,660 acres of commons and open fields were enclosed.
  • Bastardy cases would be held in the Gainsborough petty session hearings at the Police Station every Tuesday.
  • As a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, this parish became the heart of the Gainsborough Poorlaw Union.
  • Anne COLE advises: "There are no poor law documents at all for Gainsborough parish apart from 5 entries in the Gainsborough Town Book".


Year Gainsborough
1801 4,506  
1811 5,172  
1821 5,893  
1831 6,658 7,535
1841 6,948 7,870
1851 7,261 8,293
1861 6,320 7,339
1871 7,564 8,655
1881 10,885  
1891 14,468 14,372
1901   17,660
1911   20,587


  • The General Charity School was founded in 1784, but the school wasn't built until 1813. In 1842 it taught about 200 boys reading, writing and arithmetic, while 80 girls were trained in knitting and sewing. The (James) WHARTON and MOTT charities provided funding for this school and much poor relief. Luke Manuel MARTIN, in 1807, left £250 for the benefit of the Charity Schools. By 1872, the Charity Schools were converted to the National School system. They were on Trinity and Church streets.
  • An Infant School was built on Beekly Lane.
  • The Wesleyans had a Day and Sunday School on Hickman Street.
  • A county council school was built on Ropery Road in 1906 to hold 800 children. Average attendance in 1913 was 600.
  • A county council school was built on Lea Road in 1906 to hold 900 children. It is now called the Lea Road Primary School and still stands.
  • All Saints School on Ackland Street was a girls' school, with the first structure built in 1844.
  • Gainsborough Grammar School was originally a boys' grammar school, with the girls' high school next door. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1589, and although nominally free, it had no endowment for students, so a fee was charged. All records and accounts of the early years of the school were lost, probably during the Civil War in the reign of Charles I. The original school fell into decay until 1795. Around 1975, the two schools combined and became a mixed school (in 1983) which is now called Queen Elizabeth's High School. The High school for girls started about 80 years ago with the first 50 girls.
  • See our Schools page for more information on researching school records.