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The expansion of our area and more legal battles

In the 14th century fishing was of course, an important industry.  In the Humber, one of the most prolific ports in catching and distributing fish, was that of Ravenerodd, a town across the Humber situated close to where Spurn Point is now. At this time, this port was larger than Hull.

Unfortunately in the heavy storms of 1356/57, the town was heavily flooded and was abandoned. It is now totally under water.

The biggest fishing port on the South bank at that time had been Grimsby, who would normally have benefited from the transfer of this extensive trade from their old rival. However at this time, the harbour at Grimsby was rapidly silting up, making it difficult for any vessel to enter the port.

This had several effects, in that the larger craft moved to Hull which encouraged the further growth of that port, whilst the smaller fishing vessels made their way to Oole and Itterby and indeed other small ports on the Lincolnshire coast.

The Grimsby people blamed the silting of their port on the Oole area, sighting the decay of cliffs and ground in that locality. This perhaps was partly true, although other cliffs on the Yorkshire coast were also decaying and that certainly would not have helped either.

The population of Grimsby declined and the population of our area increased.  The old legal verdict given regarding port dues seems to have been, by this time, forgotten.

In 1496, Grimsby needed money and consequently this legal matter of port dues seemed likely to be revived. Consequently the villages seized the initiative and put the Burgesses of Grimsby in court to make good their claims.

This action upset the Grimsby Mayor who then had the idea of increasing the revenue in a different way. He simply entered into an agreement with the Abbot of Wellow to erect a toll-bar at the boundary of the town, thus effecting all people entering or leaving the Grimsby area.

This particularly effected everyone in Oole, Itterby and Thrunscoe,  as Grimsby, though declining, was still their market town.

However, a champion was to hand in the shape of Sir Christopher Ayscough, who though a prominent Grimbarian, derived much of his income from Itterby where he owned land.  He took both the Mayor and the Abbot to court at Westminster challenging the legality of such measures being taken without authority.

In revenge and in the following year, the mayor took Ayscough to the same court in Westminster for the ‘appropriation of a royal fish’ , a sturgeon caught in our area.

So legal battles in Westminster between the Clee Thorpes  (Oole. Itterby and Thrunscoe) and Grimsby, carried on over many years.

In Henry 8ths time there were at least four such cases and in the Elizabeth 1st era, a long battle took place between the Duchy of Lancaster, Grimsby and the Admiralty all over fishing rights off our coast.

In more recent times, some way north of the Old Haven in Grimsby, stood an ancient ‘Blue Stone’ – according to legend, brought to the area by Grim the alleged founder of Grimsby. This was a fellow to  ‘Havelock’s Stone’ in Wellowgate.  Both of these stones are now at the Welholme Galleries in Hainton Avenue.

In 1822 a legal battle occurred because the Grimbarians claimed that their section of the marsh stretched to the Old Haven, whereas the Cleethorpes people said that the ‘Blue Stone’ had been the marker for many generations. The matter came to the Kirton Quarter Sessions and the decision was given to Cleethorpes for the 69 acres involved.

At this stage, Grimsby decided to ignore this decision and turned its cattle to graze between the Blue Stone and the Old Haven. Cleethorpes promptly impounded them, whereupon approximately 100 armed Grimsby men broke into the compound and rescued them.

Cleethorpes charged them with ‘pound breach’ and nine were sent to prison for one month. However, in Grimsby the nine were looked upon as heroes and were each awarded 10 shillings per week by the Corporation for the whole of the sentence.

Grimsby, not to be undone, then impounded the Cleethorpes cattle found grazing on the same stretch.  However no rescue was attempted by the Cleethorpes inhabitants – they simply took the matter back to law and at Lincoln Assizes in 1830 the matter was finally settled, again effecting a strong Cleethorpes win.

These disputes finally came to an end with the process of land enclosure.