Great Grimsby

"Great Grimsby is a market town, a borough both corporate and parliamentary, a sea-port and parish, in the wapentake of Bradley-Haverstoc and parts of Lindsey - 168 miles N from London, 35 NE from Lincoln, and 16 SE from Hull. This place, anciently spelled Grimsbye, is advantageously situate near the mouth of the Humber, and is suppossed to have been the spot where the Danes disembarked, on their first invasion of Britain, towards the close of the eighth century. It is one of the most ancient boroughs in the kingdom - was formerly rich and populous, and possessed a considerable share of foreign commerce and internal traffic."
"Lincolnshire Directory," Pigot & Co., 1841

Archives & Libraries

  • The Public Library Act was adopted in 1899 and the library was housed in Victoria Street in a building erected in 1856.
  • Get the latest information from the Northeast Lincolnshire Archive.
  • Grimsby Central Library have a full set of old telephone directories for the Grimsby & Cleethorpes area from 1949 to the present day. The 1949 edition lists numbers for a much larger district than today. There were far fewer subscribers than today, and the directory includes numbers for Retford, Scunthorpe and Lincoln. [John Readman]
  • The Library has a paper copy of the "Times" newspaper index. It comes as a set of bound volumes. [Fiona Poulton]


  • Peter CHAPMAN's "Grimsby, The Story of the World's Greatest Fishing Port", published by Breedon Books 2002, ISBN 9 781859833 23 0.
  • Malcom SMITH's "Blitz on Grimsby", published by Humberside Leisure Services 1983, ISBN 0 904451 23 2

Business & Commerce Records



  • The Grimsby cemetery was initially about 4 acres, commissioned in July, 1855. It was later enlarged to 8.5 acres and included two mortuary chapels.
  • The Grimsby Crematorium may have records for recent cremations. Older records are likely at the NE Lincolnshire Archives.
  • Grimsby cemeteries info can be found at NE Lincolnshire Web Site.
  • Fiona POULTON tells us that: "There are no longer any headstones per se at Saint James (Cemetery). They were cleared to the side many years ago. There are however transcriptions of the stones at Grimsby Library and at Lincoln Archives. Moore's transcriptions of the headstones were done around 1900 so are more complete than the later ones. As we live in a limestone area, the headstones don't last very long compared to other stones."
  • Brian CHESTER has provided a Monument Inscription lookup feature at his website for Grimsby cemeteries. You must select the cemetery by the related church.


  • The parish was in the Grimsby sub-district of the Caistor Registration District.
  • In 1891, the Grimsby sub-district became its own Registration District.
  • From the 1901 census, see our partial list of surnames extracted.
  • Check our Census Resource page for county-wide resources.
  • The table below gives census piece numbers, where known:
Piece No.
1841 H.O. 107 / 635&
1851 H.O. 107 / 2113
1861 R.G. 9 / 2388 & 2389
1871 R.G. 10 / 3411 thru 3414
1881 R.G. 11 / 3269
1891 R.G. 12 / 2612 - 2615
1901 R.G. 13 / 3090


There are more than 30 churches identified in this place. Please click here for a complete list.

Church History

  • Grimsby was home to several monastic institutions over the centuries. Saint Leonard's Benedictine nunnery was established before 1185. A monastery of Grey Friars was established in 1308.
  • Grimsby had two churches in ancient times, but historians differ as to their early history.
  • Grimsby had an Abbey of Black Canons at Wellow, built around 1110.
  • Wendy Parkinson has several Grimsby church photographs on her web site under "more Lincolnshire".
  • It is believed that a house of the Knights Hospitaliers stood on Spittal Hill.
  • The Anglican parish church is dedicated to St. James.
  • Here are two photographs of the Church of St. James taken by Ron Cole (who retains the copyright):




  • All Saints iron church was built on Heneage Street in 1891. It was built as a chapel of ease to the parish church of Clee.
  • All Saints could seat 400.
  • All Saints was declared redundant by the Lincoln Diocese in December, 1993. In November, 1994, the church was demolished and the site sold.
  • Saint Andrew's church was built on Freeman Street.
  • Saint John the Evangelist's church was built on Cleethorpe Road in New Clee. It was consecrated in June 1879.
  • Saint John's was demolished to make way for a dual carriageway on Cleethorpe Road.
  • Saint Barnabas mission church was built on King Edward Street. It was rebuilt in 1900.
  • Saint Alban's mission church was built in Oxford Street. It is now a Post Office.
  • Saint Hugh's mission church was built on Macauley Street.
  • Saint John the Devine chapel of ease (to St. Andrew's) was built on Albion Street. This was called "The Fisherman's Church."
  • Saint Luke's mission church was built on Wellington Street. This facility was declared "redundant" in 1972 and demolished in 1974 and the land sold.
  • Saint Paul's mission church was built on Corporation Road. This church was demolished in the late 1960's along with many streets of housing in a renovation project.
  • St. Stephen's Church stood alongside Roberts Road in New Clee.
  • The Diocese of Lincoln declared St. Stephen's church redundant in June, 1973. In November of 1974 it was slated for demolition and a new use was sought for the site. The parish joined with St. John's.

Church Records

  • Anglican parish registers exist from 1538. The parish is technically "Great Grimsby".
  • All Saints parish registers date from 1888 for baptisms, 1905 for marriages and 1898 for burials.
  • We have the start of a Parish register extract for St. James church in a text file. Your additions and corrections are welcome.
  • The LFHS has published several marriage indexes and a burial index for the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Deanery to make your search easier.
  • Anglican parish registers are on file at the Society of Genealogists, covering 1538 - 1812.
  • Great Grimsby marriages are in Pallot's Marriage Index, covering 1790 - 1812.
  • The Primitive Methodists had three churches in Grimsby in 1902. The Victoria Street chapel dates back to 1859. Bethel chapel was built in 1861, and the Hainton Street chapel in 1878. The United Methodists had a Free Church on Park Street and the Wesleyan Methodists two circuits and five chapels in all. George Street chapel was built in 1847, South Parade chapel in 1871, Duncombe Street chapel in 1868, Arlington Street chapel in 1892 and Cleethorpes chapel in 1886. The George Street Methodist Chapel was opposite the Grimsby Central Library on the site of the building occupied by Wilkin Chapman. The chapel had a War Memorial from WWI. Check our Non-Conformist Church Records page for resources.
  • The Jewish Synagogue in 1902 was on Heneage Street, with Rabbi D. GOLDSMID ministering to his flock. There was also a Scandinavian Lutheran Church in Chapman Street and services offered by Rev. A. H. Lindstrom depended on the arrival of vessels with immigrants.
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church was built on Holme Hill.
  • Check our Church Records page for county-wide resources.

Civil Registration

  • The parish was in the Grimsby sub-district of the Caistor Registration District.
  • In 1891, the Grimsby sub-district became its own Registration District.
  • There is a Civil Registrar's office in Grimsby: Superintendent Registrar for North East Lincolnshire, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire.
  • Check our Civil Registration page for sources and background on Civil Registration which began in July, 1837.

Description & Travel

Great Grimsby is a parish and a large town on the northeast shore of the county, on the mouth of the River Humber. It sits 16 miles southeast of Hull and 163 miles north of London. Long one of the principal centers for fishing, that trade has all but disappeared in the last half-century. The parish covers about 1,840 acres of land and includes the hamlet of Wellow.

This once-small village has grown over the centuries. If you are planning a visit:

  • By automobile, take the A16 north out of Louth to the A180. This will place you in downtown Grimsby.
  • See John Firth's memories of Top Town for a description of the town.
  • See our transport page for bus and coach services.
You can see pictures of Great Grimsby which are provided by:




Historical Geography

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



  • When the Romans left, they left seven hills or tumuli where they had buried their dead.
  • The Scandinavian raiders (Vikings, Norwegians, etc.) considered Grimsby a good port for supplies, water and trade items.
  • Grimsby had a mayor as early as the reign of King John.
  • Grimsby had two members of parliament when it assembled at Shrewsbury in 1238.
  • The Freemen of Grimsby date back to 1341. To learn more, see Hilary Godber's Grimsby Freemen F.A.Q. text file. Lists of past members are kept at the N. E. Lincs Archives.
  • Grimsby harbour silted up over time and in 1796 an Act of Parliament was attained, "The Grimsby Haven Company", which allowed the harbour to be dredged and docks to be built. Trade increased so much that a customs house was built here around 1800.
  • The Gas Works were established here in 1837 in Holme Street. A much larger facility was built in 1851 and that replaced in 1867 with an even larger plant.
  • The railroad came to Grimsby in March, 1848, and allowed ships to offload cargo intended for inland cities and towns.
  • The Corn Exchange building was built in 1854 of red brick with stone dressings.
  • The Yarborough Hotel was built in 1851 to cater to the increased trade expected from the new railway which had just reached the Lincolnshire coast. It was built by the second Earl of Yarborough who was chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company. It is a major landmark in Grimsby. The hotel was heavily used by the railway for staff accomodations.
  • There was a political riot in Grimsby on Saint Valentine's Day in 1862. Kidnapped voters were allegedly held in the Yarborough Hotel. Stones were thrown through the hotel's windows. Read more at This is Grimsby.
  • In 1872 Mr. W. H. ROBERTS was manager at the Yarborough Hotel. Mr. ROBERTS was born circa 1837 in Berkshire.
  • Who was in the Yarborough hotel on the night of the 1881 census?
  • Who was in the Yarborough hotel on the night of the 1911 census?
  • The Grimsby Hostel for migrants opened in 1854 and was used by mainly Jewish European transmigrants to America/Canada and immigrants to Britain.
  • The Great Grimsby Water Works were established here in 1863.
  • The Customs House was built in 1873 on Cleethorpe Road.
  • A resident of Grimsby was a ship's officer, lost on the RMS Titanic.
  • A good book on the history of this town is: "A History of Grimsby", by Edward Gillett, Oxford University Press, 1970, ISBN 19 713411 4.
  • Denise LIGHT reports that, "Here in Grimsby we have a marvellous resource in the Welholme Galleries which is gradually being opened as a community museum rather than just a museum store. Museums have many items for the family historian. Welholme Galleries is not open on a regular basis - but quite often it is open on Sundays 11a.m. until 4 p.m., particularly during the summer, also weekday afternoons. Telephone the Council number of 01472 313131 to confirm dates and times open."
  • Grimsby, as a popular tourist spot, was also visited by disease. Read our short text file about Smallpox in Grimsby.
  • Barbara Scott reports that, in 1980, Freeman Street in Grimsby has several "Sugar Boilers" (candy makers), a music hall and an oyster bar. In addition, her research found 48 public houses down by the docks.
  • A Statute Hiring Fair, for servants and agricultural workers, was held every 14th of May.


  • See our Maps page for additional resources.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TA258076 (Lat/Lon: 53.55015, -0.103254), Great Grimsby which are provided by:


Medical Records

  • The first Hospital was in Cleethorpes Road at Tomline Street in 1865. It opened in May of 1866. It is unknown if any records survive from this institution.
  • The Grimsby General Hosp. was built in the West Marsh. It is unknown if any records survive from this institution.

Military History

  • In 1872, the Lincolnshire Artillery Volunteer Brigade were stationed here. One corps was here in Grimsby, one in Boston and one in Louth. Lieut. Col. G. M. HUTTON, commanding; Captain Thomas HUMPHRIES, adjutant.
  • In 1872, the Grimsby Artillery Volunteers (2nd Lincolnshire) were stationed here. Formed in 1860, it had 190 members and trained at Beaconthorpe. Their armory was on Newmarket Street.
  • In 1881, three batteries of the 1st Lincolnshire Artillery Volunteers were stationed here. Lieut. Col. G. M. HATTON (note spelling variation), commanding; Captain Thomas HUMPHRIES, adjutant.
  • Thomas HUMPHRIES, above, was born in the Channel Islands about 1825. He was 56 years old and single in 1881.
  • In 1872, the Grimsby Rifle Volunteers (2nd Lincolnshire), which had formed in 1860, were active with 100 members. P. K. SEDDON, captain; Henry Rawdon ALINGTON, ensign.
  • Also in 1881, the 6th Company of the Second Lincolnshire, "The Grimsby Rifle Volunteers", which had formed in 1860, had 106 members. P. K. SEDDON, major; Henry Rawdon ALINGTON, captain; T. COATS, lieutenant; William BENNETT, sub-lieutenant; and serjeant P. J. DONELLAN, drill instructor.
  • In 1900, Grimsby was the headquarters of the 1st Lincolnshire Volunteer Position Artillery, Western Division of the Royal Artillery. Grimsby also was the home of A and B companies of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regt.
  • In April, 1905, a rifle team of nine men from the 1st Brigade of the Grimsby Volunteers won an annual inter-battery shooting competition and were featured in a Grimsby Evening Telegraph newspaper article. The photo of the group is much better. That's Gunner Barker on the lower left.
  • In 1912, the Territorial Force stationed in Grimsby included the headquarters of D squadron, Lincolnshire Yeomanry and the headquarters of the 1st North Midlands Brigade Royal Field Artillery, commanded by Lieut.-Col J. TONGE. Also included were the headquarters of A and B companies of the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and Royal Medical Corps, Notts and Derby Mounted Field Ambulance.
  • In 1918 Elizabeth Davies grandfather, Charles Edmund LOCKING, who joined the army from Grimsby in 1915 and served in the Tank Corps, got this note from an officer on 23rd March. She doesn't know if the men mentioned were also from Lincolnshire.
  • In 1933, Grimsby municipal airport opened. This became RAF Grimsby on 26 November, 1941. Initially, this airfield was a satellite airfield for RAF Binbrook.
  • RAF Grimsby closed in 1946. Parts of the runways are now within a golf driving course.

Military Records

For World War One, check these sources:

For World War II:

  • Barbara ELLESCOTT provides the Grimsby WW2 Roll of Honour, which we provide as a text file. Remember, a Roll of Honour typically lists those who served, not just those who died.

Names, Geographical

  • Folklore has it that the town is named after Grim, a local fisherman who rescued an infant from a boat he found drifting. He adopted the boy, named him Habloc and raised him. The lad turned out to be the son of the King of Denmark. The boy was returned to his royal family, Grim was rewarded with gold and many fine gifts. Grim returned to Lincolnshire and built the town which he named after himself. The ancient seal of Grimsby contains the names Gryme and Habloc. It is from Habloc that the medieval Havelock the Dane derives.
  • In the 1086 Domesday Book, the name appears as Grimesbi.
    [A. D. Mills, "A Dictionary of English Place-Names," Oxford University Press, 1991]

Names, Personal



  • In 1900, Grimsby was served by seven local newspapers: Grimsby Daily Mail, Grimsby Daily Telegraph, Grimsby Gazette (weekly), Grimsby News (twice weekly), Grimsby Post (twice weekly), Grimsby Times (weekly) and the New Free Press (weekly).
  • The local newspaper has an online link, This is Grimsby. See also our Newspapers page.
  • Grimsby events were also noted in the Yorkshire Weekly of 1903.


Many a man of Grimsby was a fisherman.


Officials & Employees


Orphans & Orphanages

Many a Grimsby child lost a father at sea. These children were likely to end up in Hull Orphanage (in Yorkshire) if not taken in by other family members. Check the Orphanage census extracts for:


Politics & Government

  • Great Grimsby has been a parish in Lincoln county since 1586.
  • The parish was in the ancient Bradley Haverstoe Wapentake in the Great Grimsby district and in the parts of Lindsey.
  • The This is Grimsby text file gives a good picture of politcal reform in the 19th and early 20th century.
  • District governance is provided by the North-East Lincolnshire Council.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • As a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, this parish became part of the Caistor Poor Law Union.
  • In an 1890 re-organization, this parish became the center of the new Grimsby Poor Law Union when the districts were re-organized.
  • Bastardy cases for the region were heard in Petty Sessions held in the county Police Office on Victoria Street, every other Thursday.


Year Inhabitants
1801 1,524
1811 2,747
1821 3,064
1831 4,225
1841 3,700
1851 8,860
1861 11,067
1871 20,238
1881 26,182
1891 33,283
1911 37,454


  • Edward VI granted licence for the first Free Grammar School in Grimsby in 1547.
  • Edward's licence led to The Corporation Free Grammar School, originally in Chantry Lane. It was relocated to Town Hall Square and was designed to hold 100 students.
  • In the 1800's, there were a number of schools in Grimsby, including eight local Board Schools. In 1856 the town had 14 private schools for fee paying pupils.
  • A School Board of 9 members was formed in April, 1874.
  • Strand School (formally known as St. Andrews School) is on Bridge Street and was built in 1860. At the time, it was reputed to be one of the most advanced in the country with its playground on the roof of the building.
  • The James Meadows School is on Weelsby St. at the junction with Hilda St. The school was built some time before 1925.
  • The Primitive Methodist had a "day school" here, opened prior to 1876, in Garibaldi Street.
  • The Wesleyans had a "day school" here, opened prior to 1876, on Victoria Street North, run by husband and wife J & L Whitely.
  • In 1902, The Collegiate School at Brighowgate billed itself as a "High-Class Boys' School", teaching Natural Science, French, Book-keeping, Shorthand, Geometrical and Freehand Drawing.
  • See our Schools page for more information on records and research tools.

Voting Registers