Great Grimsby

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1558/9SIR EDWARD WARNER 1
 JOHN BELLOW 2
1562/3CHRISTOPHER WRAY
 EDWARD FITZGERALD
1571THOMAS ST. POLL
 JOHN THYMBLEBY
1572THOMAS MORRISON
 THOMAS GRANTHAM I
17 Nov. 1584WILLIAM WRAY
 THOMAS MORRISON
24 Oct. 1586TRISTRAM TYRWHITT
 THOMAS MORRISON
1588/9THOMAS MORRISON
 TRISTRAM TYRWHITT
1593WILLIAM BARNE
 NICHOLAS SAUNDERSON
27 Sept. 1597THOMAS HATCLIFFE
 THOMAS ELLIS
5 Oct. 1601THOMAS CLINTON alias FIENNES, Lord Clinton
 EDWARD SKIPWITH

Main Article

The early municipal history of ‘the Queen’s Majesty’s town and borough of Great Grimsby’—the phrase comes from the 1584 election return—is uncertain. The surviving returns show that the MPs were chosen by the mayor and burgesses with their ‘whole and mutual assents and consents, voices and agreements’ but it is impossible to say how many were present at the elections.

Grimsby’s economic decline in the sixteenth century in 1553 it was ‘in great ruin and decay, and nothing so populous as it hath been’—influenced the parliamentary history of the borough. The migration of many merchants across the Humber to Hull, which was prospering, created a vacuum into which the local gentlemen were drawn, not only to represent the borough in Parliament, having undertaken to serve without payment, but also to serve as mayor and aldermen. A number of these country gentlemen could sometimes command a county seat. They were not the only people, however, to seek return at Grimsby when once it was known that outsiders would be acceptable. In 1562 Robert Halton, an Inner Temple lawyer, asked for a seat for the next Parliament. He was prepared to forgo wages, but hoped the authorities would ‘see cause freely to consider [him] with some small pleasure’. Grimsby declined this particular request, but surrendered its independence to such an extent that only one of the Elizabethan Members, John Bellow (1559), appears to have been a resident of the town, and he had estates nearby.

The major patron at Grimsby in the early part of the reign was Lord Clinton, Earl of Lincoln from 1572. The borough records for 1559 reveal that a ‘Mr. Harrington’ was the original choice for the first Parliament of the reign, until Clinton asked for a nomination. No doubt prompted by Sir William Cecil, he chose a Norfolk countr