Here is the tenth "position paper" for the 2012 Harbour Research project. Corrections and additions are welcomed. The purpose of the document is to seek people who will undertake serious research on aspects of the history of the harbour. John Rushton 2012.

Passenger Traffic and Scarborough Harbour, 

The passenger traffic of a port is often incidental to its cargo trade. Nonetheless, there are periods when Scarborough or Scarborough-owned ships played a more significant part  in the movement of people.

The American War of Independence - 18th Century

Employment in the Government transport service, in time of war, was a useful source of  payments. William Tindall of Scarborough commanded the government transport brig "Emerald" in 1780 and moved troops around America in 1781. The vessel was scuttled at Yorktown. Other Tindall vessels serving during the American War of Independence were the “"Ocean", "Diana", "Symmetry" and "Harmony". (Buckley 105) Thomas Herbert was in the Chesapeake river in 1788, when his ship was struck by American shot and set on fire. The crew got to shore and he joined Lord Cornwallis. When he retired from the sea he was known as Cornwall from the  stories he told. (Mss notes Scarborough library)

Australian Convict ships - 18th Century

A Scarborough-built vessel, the 430 ton “Scarborough” completed in 1782, was one of the eleven vessels in the “first fleet” which arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788. She carried 208 male convicts sentenced to transportation. The Scarborough owners were Thomas, George and John Hopper. The master was John Marshall. There was a mutiny during the  journey. She returned to England and made the second voyage to Port Jackson with 188 men in the second fleet the next year. A “First Fleet “ website  shows the vessel. and there may be Australian art about the first fleet.

Canada Emigration ships - 19th Century

It is likely that there was some Scarborough involvement in the migration to Nova Scotia in 1771-75. The Duke of Rutland was an active patron of the borough. He advised his kinsman the Lieutenant Governor in Canada to recruit Yorkshiremen and a thousand are believed to have gone from the shire. The "York Chronicle" 1774 advertised ”For Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia. The good ship Two Friends, a prime sailor.  Well accomodated for goods and passengers is to sail from Hull, the latter end of February” children 1-10... 2 guineas, above 3 guineas, sucking children gratis. merchandise or household goods £4 a ton.  Enquire Milner and Fawcett maker of sailcloth and drills, Malton”. Migration was renewed in the post-war depression 1815-1817.


Before the railways reached the coast in 1845, the Yorkshire  migrant seeking fresh opportunities in Canada or the United States of America sailed from Whitby, Scarborough or Hull. Emigration agents advertised in the "York Chronicle" of January 1774. This subject merits further exploration. There are some accounts of Scarborough departures, but the best of these seems to be mislaid. They might be sought in newspapers of the period. A Scarborough apprentice watched 130, mostly country people, go to Quebec in March 1828. T. W. Burton of Scarborough died on the passage to Quebec in 1852.

Exploration & Sir Martin Frobisher - 16th Century

The famous Yorkshire mariner Martin Frobisher rode into Scarborough in September 1565. This Normanton gentleman was twenty-seven years old. He had bought the ship “Matthew”, 100 tons, at London from John Baxter, described as a gentleman and town bailiff of Scarborough. She was renamed the Mayflower or Mary Flower. She left Tynemouth in December 1565 with 36 aboard, including Baxter, intending a voyage to Guinea. Driven north from the Humber in a storm ,with masts and sails ruined, she had to be beached near Scarborough on Christmas day. The Frobisher brothers stayed five months  trying to raise funds. John Martin, the Admiralty bailiff, arrested the ship for debts owed by John Frobisher in 1566.

Under examination Frobisher said that “at Scardeburghe, Mr. Edward Rye, a servant of the Lord Darcy of the North lent me £50 towards the Guinea voyage”. He had ordered the ship “to Newcastle for coals”. She was armed with a saker of iron, 2 fawkenetts of iron, one fowler, two slings and six single brasses. One of the crew said that at Scarborough the “May Flower” was victualled for a month, taking on three tons of biscuits, a hogshead of beef, butter, cheese and bread. They lay in Burlington roads a day and half, landing John Frobisher to call on Mr Boynton at Barmston, whence he bought fresh victuals, a sheep, capons and bread. They went on to Yarmouth and North Foreland on 14..5.1566. Frobisher was suspected of piracy in the Thames that year.

 Frobisher travelled again via Scarborough in 1576 on his famous voyage with two barques and a pinnace in search of the north-west passage. (Cartwright 88)  For a voyage of 168 days, he provided weekly rations, including 1 lb biscuit, a hard tack of flour and water, one gallon of beer daily, a pound of beef or pork on meat days, and a few ounces of peas, four ounces fish and the same of butter or eight ounce cheese, some oatmeal and rice on fast days. (Macdermott, The accounts of Michaerl Lok relating to the north west voyages of Martin Frobisher 1576-8, Hull. M.Phil 1986). Thomas Brown of Scarborough in 1581 left his son Anthony half a crayer. Among his other bequests was “a corseleyt I had of Martin Frobisher”.

The website “Inuit and Englishmen: the Nunavut Voyages of Martin Frobisher” has been made by the Candian Museum of Civilisation to examine his 1576-8 expedition to the Arctic. There are pictures of artefacts, models, and extracts from contemprary sources. Frobisher had a rich and varied naval experience and played a leading role against the Spanish Armada.

Harbour of Refuge

Scarborough was recognised as a harbour of refuge in all periods. This brought many to the town during storms. The port’s role as a harbour of refuge for coal boats going from Newcastle and Sunderland to London and Europe gave rise to levies on shipments out of the northern coalfield, which paid for the 18th century rebuilding of the harbour.

Ships taking shelter  in Scaarborough harbour1820-1842, from

Sunderland & Newcastle  (Chapman 305)

1820                                       7                      7

1821                                       20                   18

1822                                       6                      12

1823                                       15                   15

1824                                       18                   21

1825                                       22                   16

1826                                       13                   14

1827                                       17                   30

1828                                       21                   22

1829                                       15                   13

1830                                       22                   14

1831                                       9                      22

1832                                       8                      17

1833                                       7                      15

1834                                       3                      14

1835                                       5                      31

1836                                       11                   25

1837                                       9                      21

1838                                       12                   18

1839                                       5                      17

1840                                       15                   17

1841                                       3                      24

1842                                       16                   19

sum                                        279                 422                 701

                                                                                    (George Appleyard, Harbourmaster)

Movement between ports

While the various lists of Scarborough taxpayers suggest sustained recruitment from the local countryside, there was also movement between ports, some of which was not necessarily accounted for by marriages. A Hornseybeck villein lived in Scarborough in 1366 (RS 102.Yorkshire Deeds p107). It is tempting to associate Alan of Snainton, the wealthiest man at Scarborough in 1340, with William of Snainton occupying a front staith at Hull in 1372 clearly a wealthy man, remembered in Snaynton place. A London merchant, Thomas Castell, had Scarborough land and there are other cases. Scarborough lads were apprenticed at other east coast ports and vice versa. It has been argued that the coal trade took many Scarborough migrants. away to Newcastle and Sunderland.

Mustering men for war - 15th Century

The king’s brother Richard Duke of Gloucester took a fleet to Lothian in 1471. Sir Thomas Hastings was made constable of Scarborough castle and in June that year was ordered to arrest Thomas George and Robert Gower, Thomas Sage, Richard and John Robinson of Scarborough. The Duke campaigned against  Scotland in the following year. He may well have become familiar with Scarborough in this period. It has been suggested that he used the port to muster a fleet  and to provision the King’s ships. 

Richard certainly borrowed money from, or incurred debts, to Scarborough burgesses and he ordered local supplies. John Pepedes was commissioned to recruit mariners and soldiers and Richard Goughe to find supplies for Dunbar and the navy. William Todde of York was paid £28.4.8 for things supplied for victualling the king's ships at Scarborough. (Meadley 178) The Duke received a grant from the King of Scarborough Castle in 1473, confirmed in 1475, together with the fee farm, the manor of Falsgrave and the port and haven. This last seems to mean the royal incomes and privileges exercised in the port and haven. (Baker 40) There is a strong tradtion that he bought Northstead, probably from Alexander Sparrow. (Baker 41)

Richard may have initiated harbour works. The traveller Leland in c1534 said that "at  the  south east end of Scarborough town by the shore is a bulwark now in ruins by the sea rage" made by Richard III, ”that lay a while at Scarborough castle and beside began to wall a piece of the town quadrato saxo". The bulwark  sound like a pier. He also says that “there cometh by the south east of the bulwark a rill of fresh water and so goeth into the sea”. Various opinions have been expressed about this bulwark. It may be a tower marked on an early sketch near Mill Beck. After he was crowned as King, Richard  III made a northern tour. He was at Scarborough on May 22nd 1484 and again from 30th June to 11th July. An order of 28th May was for the payment of £40 due to Scarborough merchant Thomas Sage. A house on Sandside is known as the Richard III house.

Packet Boats - 19th Century

The early sailing packet boats established a regular service linking east coat ports for goods and passengers. They ran once a fortnight from Scarborough to London in 1811,  the fare for a passenger £1.6s. The service gave names to several public houses, including the “London Packet” in East Sandgate.

Passage to Shrines - 12th-16th Century

The baron William of Aumale who founded Scarborough castle had promised to make the journey to the Holy Land. In the event he became too heavy for the journey and was known as “William le Gros”. Henry de Brumpton of Scarborough had hoped to fulfill his vow to travel to St James of Compostella c1291 but paid 100 marks to evade the promise. (YAJ 32) A number of  local barons went on crusades and others probably made sea journeys to overseas shrines. There was some traffic to Compostella through Hull. The link between Scarborough church and Citeaux will have necessitated some early journeys.

Peninsula War Transports - 18th-Century

The Peninsula war with France offered rich pickings for shipowners in the government transport service. Mr. Peak was at the north east coast ports in 1776 taking on 300 ton ships. Such a ship could earn 14s.6d a month per ton but the sum paid fluctuated above and below this level. (Buckley 69-72) Scarborough owners in the service petitioned for fresh contracts in 1799 due to wage and price rises. 

Private  Travel - 16th Century 

The Earl of Rutland arriving at Scarborough paid five shillings to the mariners who carried him ashore, five shillings to musicians and monies to men taking his messages to Helmsley and Hackness. A Nottinghamshire woman travelling from Scotland in an Englsih ship landed at Scarborough on a Thursday night in 1599.  She stayed one night at Widow Constable’s house, then travelled on to Ness in Ryedale. (Cal SPD 206). A proportion of the 17th and 18th century visitors to the first seaside resort at Scarborough will have arrived by sea. A cheap way to travel from London was to take passage on a returning coal boat.

Sea Trips on fishing boats - 17th-20th Centuries

Some early Spa visitors  of the 17th and 18th centuries spoke of taking sea trips for pleasure in fishing boats. Other went for fishing or to shoot birds on coastal cliffs. Schofield in 1787 claimed that cobles were  worked for six  days a week and on the seventh were “used for pleasure”, the pleasure of resort cvisitros. Each was thought able to carry twelve passengers. Wtih the sail  aloft, they could be hired for short sea excursions. Some were given square seats  for visior comfort. 

The New Scarborough Guide of 1811 advised those arranging fishing parties not to depend on their own j udgments. Vessels could be hred by the hour or the trip. William Henderson by 1832  had fitted out the thirty ton  Granby as  a pleasure boat with good cabin beds and seasick berths, for hire at a gunea a day. Two smaller vessels were half that price. Parties of visitors were made up for rowing, sailing and rod and line fishiing. Some went to Flamborough to vew the bird climbers. In the early 20th Century, as many as forty rowing boats and thirty small sailing craft were serving visitors at the height of the season.

Sea Trips on pleasure cruisers - 19th-20th Centuries

1847               Royal Victoria (Whitby-Scarborough- Bridlington)

1855               Contrast 

1863               Xamantho 

1865               Fame 

1866-79         Kate.(At first a tug used to tow lighters).

1871               Victor 

1874               Prairie Flowers, (steamer excursions to Filey bay.)

                        Scarborough,( carried 300 passengers & 3 musicians)

1879-99         Alexandra.( iron paddle boat. 65 tons,bought to replace Kate in 1879)

1882-90’s     Comet  ( at first a tender to steamers, 132 ton paddler)                                            

1880’s           Fawn, May  and Nunthorpe 

1880-94         General Havelock.(replaced by another larger of same name)

1895               Cambria    (iron paddle boat.).

1897               Mary Ellen (steam. Captain Rees Evans. SG.8.7.1897)

                        1890   Pleasure boats left the  lightouse pier at 10.30. and were back by                           5.30(Bulmer 1890)(Prescott. Vol.7)

1901.              Scarborough, Cambria, Larmont and Camperdown 

1900-1912    Cambria

1902-1925    Balaclava

1908               Claudia, Buccaneer,

1931               White Lady.(Thomas Round’s  to Hayburn Wyke for 1s6d)

1930’s           Yorkshireman (to Bridlington)

1914-34         Bilsdale .(a punch up took place on board in 1928)  

1938-40         Royal Lady.(  J Crown, Sunderland for Thos Round & son Scarbr). 

1947               Titlark      

                        Yorkshrie Lady renamed Coronia. 

                        Regal Lady

(See Pleasure craft  of the  Yorkshrie Coast .F. Flintoft)

Shipwrecked people

King Charles of France sent  Admiral Verascque with a fleet to Scotland, but a storm drove him into Scarborough where he was placed in the castle &  then sent to London (Meadley 23)(Baker 357). Osess Napier, Ambassador from Muscovy was shipwrecked and arrived in Scarborough. He had come to negotiate commercial agreements and was forwarded  to London (Rowntree 221). 

Sailors on cargo vessels were often disharged at ports other than their own. While not literally shipwrecked, they  were assisted in some periods to return home by small grants to clear the borough.

Smuggling people - 17th Century

Robert Dalby and Edmund Burden Roman Catholic  priests landed here in 1598, apparently  using  the Devils pathway on the  north side of Scarborough castle (YG 2.9.1938). Peter Postgate of Scarborough shipped “suspected persons” to Holland  in 1682-3. The  coble went to the back of  the castle The  Marquess of Winchester came to enquire about  them .

The Steam Packets - 19th Century

The first steam packet boat was built at Wincolmlee, Hull in 1796. The first steam boat from Hull to Selby ran in 1815 and one arrived at York the next year. They were independant of wind and tide, They could  almost guarantee passenger and small parcel  deliveries on time. Cheap and reliable, they replaced  the older sailing packets. They even created new seaside resorts. From 1815 they began to transform  Margate into a tripper resort, in easy reach of London, Liverpool steamers would parent New Brighton in 1832.

The old sailing packets came from London to Scarborough fortnightly in 1810, the passenger cost £160. Then came steam. Several steam packets called weekly at Scarborough. Mrs Cole went on the “Gainsborough” steam packet to Hull.  The “Aid”and the “Moscow” sailed  from the Blands cliff staiths in 1823.The City of Edinburgh, the James Watt and the Tourist steam packets went to London and Edinburgh on Thursdays (Y.G. 8.6.1822) An advertisement read “ the City of Edinburgh” steam packet will sail from Newhaven near Leith on Friday evening and will call off Scarborough for passengers for London  on the third. Francis Hill Scarborough agent  in 1822  at Merchants Row had a Steam Packet Inn by 1825. 

The Scarborough Album of 1825 mentioned the steam packets plying between Hull and Scarborough, making a ten hour journey for eight or twelve shillings .The “Majestic”  from Middlesbrough called at  Whitby and Scarborough for  London with reduced prices for children and horses.The first steamship launched at Whitby  was the “Streanshalh” in 1836  from Henry Barrick’s yard. It would be seen frequently at Scarborough, on the Hull Newcastle run .(Y.Gaz 30.1.1836).Two locally owned packets ran a passenger service, carrying mail and small cargoes untill 1875 .The Newcastle and London packets carried thirty people each.Travellers provided their own food. The Tyne Tees shipping company replaced them with “Claudia”, “Buccaneer” and “General Havelock” running three times a week(Towse 50).The Morray and Caithness packet  once brought a cargo of 11 Shetland ponies, 32 cattle for thebutchers and 500 dozen eggs for the bakers (SG.25.9.1847 )  Jeremiah Hudson engaged a new timber built steam boat “Con" at Scarborough in 1855, arranging for three cobles with a small red flag  to run out to it .(S.G 12.7.1855).

The first  steamer owend at sCarborough was the sloop rigged paddle tug “Transit” built in 1848. It was advertised in April  1852 for daily runs to Whitby or Bridlington at 3s with strictest sobriety.Travellers were unmloaded by coble. This was replaced in 1853 by the hired Brittania and in 1854 by the new steameer”Eclat”. Owner Captain Jeremiah Hudson sold the Eclat in 1855 , bought the bigger Contrasts and hired the Brothers and the Firefly.Two years later he bought  the even bigger iron paddler Fame 222 tons, which was   kept till 1862. Visitors were worried by the 20ft vertcal descent to the pier  Gambling was forbidden on board but shooting was allowed from the front. (Godfrey 12-14) Coble owners eventually charted a steamship of their own  the “Maid of Leven”.Cobles were also now licenced for sea trips ,

Visiting  by Sailing Ships and other Unusual Vessels

1901. Herring drifter “Rearer” from Scotland , 75 ft high sail

1940’s.Butlins motor vessel Titlark ,but provoked a strike and was moved to Bridlington

1966. Norwegian sail training ship “Christian Radich”

1971. The Dutch cruise liner Statendam 24.000 tons anchored off coast and much visited by Americans The Norwegian full rigged School sailing ship Christian Radich was seen earlier

1975-6.Nowegian clipper Challenger .(DM Vol 37 969. 1975-6)

2004-5 Endeavour and  Grand Turk 

Yaghting for pleasure - 19th-20th centuries

J.W. Woodall  of an old Scarborough family was a pioneer of yaghting and fish conservation. His yaght Garland was used for research.He designed some yaghts and sailed from his boatyard below St Nicholas Cliff. Lord Londesborough also sought to encourage local yaght regattas in the 19th century. Steam yaghts  were  acquired by some wealthy Scarborians Mr.Frank of Albion Crescent built  the fine yaght “Greyhound” for JW.Woodall, in imitation of a torpedo boat, for sporting use, 50ft long, 7ft10” beam.with Williams 3 cylinder ngines of 12 HP and drawing  4f t6” of water .This was launched  in 1883(SM. 28.9.1883).Another steam vessel belonged to  Count Bathany of 1 Belmont road (MJ 3.8. 1993) Yaght races were held in  the South Bay on July 20, 1892. Scarborough Yaght club was founded in 1894, with Ernest and Frank Dade  FH Mason and Albert Strange.The latter was headmaster of the Scarborough Art School and produced many designs for yachts between 1888 and 1917.Pontoons were placed in Scarborough  harbour by the Albert Strange Society in 2007  (SEN 7.2.2007)

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