Great Grimsby (UK Parliament constituency)

Great Grimsby (UK Parliament constituency)

UK constituency infobox
Name = Great Grimsby
Map1 = GreatGrimsby
Type = Borough
Map2 = Humberside
Entity = Humberside
County = Lincolnshire
Year = 1295
MP = Austin Mitchell
Party = Labour
EP = Yorkshire and the Humber

Great Grimsby is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, consisting of the town of Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. The constituency has been represented since 1295, and it elected two MPs until 1832; between 1918 and 1983 it was known simply as Grimsby.

Current and future boundaries

The present constituency follows the boundaries of the old Borough of Great Grimsby, which was abolished when the former county of Humberside was divided into four unitary authorities in 1996. From the next general election new boundaries will apply, but the Boundary Commission has made only minimal changes, aligning the constituency boundaries with those of North East Lincolnshire wards; the revised constituency will consist of eight wards - East Marsh, Freshney, Heneage, Park, Scartho, South, West Marsh and Yarborough. Great Grimsby remains a borough constituency.


Great Grimsby was established as a parliamentary borough in 1295, sending two burgesses to the Model Parliament, and has been continuously represented ever since. The original borough consisted of the town of Grimsby in Lincolnshire, a market town and seaport.

The right to vote was exercised by freemen of the town, provided they were resident and paying scot and lot; in 1831 this amounted to just under 400 voters. Freemen could be made by the town corporation and the freedom could be acquired through apprenticeship, but also by inheritance; in Great Grimsby, not only was the son of a freeman entitled to become a freeman himself, but the husband of a freeman's daughter or widow also acquired the freedom. In 1831, when the Reform Bill was being discussed in Parliament, the wives and daughters of the Great Grimsby freemen petitioned the House of Lords to retain their rights to pass on the vote to their future husbands and children.

However, their concern to retain these rights may not have been entirely rooted in their desire to help choose the borough's MPs; a vote in Great Grimsby was a valuable commodity in a more mercenary sense, and the contemporary polemicist Oldfield considered that "This borough stands second to none in the history of corruption." At the start of the 18th century it was noted that Grimsby's "freemen did enter into treaties with several gentlemen in London, for sale of the choice of burgess to such as would give the most money"." In 1701, the House of Commons overturned the election of one of Great Grimsby's MPs, William Cotesworth, for bribery and sent him to the Tower of London, as well as temporarily suspending the borough's right to representation. Almost every election in Great Grimsby at this period was followed by a petition from the defeated candidates alleging bribery, although that of 1701 seems to have been the only one which was acted upon.

Great Grimsby, like most boroughs except for the very largest, recognised a "patron" who could generally exercise influence over the choice of its MPs; at the time of the Great Reform Act of 1832, this was Lord Yarborough. However, the extent of the patron's power was limited in Great Grimsby, and the voters were quite prepared (at a price) to defy his advice. The patron could strengthen his position by providing employment to the freemen, as could his rivals. Jupp quotes two letters, one of 1818 and one of 1819, in which local agents advise the Tennyson family how best to do this in Grimsby so as to encroach on Lord Yarborough's influence::"Build upon every spot of vacant ground you are possessed of... Thus you would give employment to a great number of freemen... Let Mr Heneage's estates be divided into fields of four or six acres; and let these, together with your own estates be placed in the hands of freemen to whom they would be "an object of importance". Provide, if possible, small farms for the "sons" of Lord Yarbro's tenants." :(George Oliver to George Tennyson, 24 November 1818, quoted in Jupp)On a less extravagant level, it is recorded that after Charles Tennyson was first elected in 1818 he presented a bottle of wine to each of the fathers of 92 local children about to be christened.

The election of 1831 was especially notorious, the local Tories being accused of using a revenue cutter lying in the Humber to ply the Whig voters with drink and prevent them getting to the polls; the recriminations led to a famous action for libel.

In 1831, the population of the borough was 4,008, and contained 784 houses. The Boundary Act that accompanied the Reform Act enlarged the borough to include eight neighbouring parishes including Cleethorpes and Great Coates, bringing the population up to 6,413 with 1,365 houses, and increasing the electorate (once the franchise reforms were taken into account) to 656. Nevertheless, Great Grimsby lost one of its two seats. However, Grimsby's population continued to grow and, unlike most of the boroughs that lost one seat in 1832, there was never a need to deprive Grimsby of the other at a subsequent redistribution of seats.

The constituency underwent further significant boundary change in 1918 and 1950. In 1918, the outlying parishes (Bradley, Great Coates, Little Coates, Laceby, Scartho, Waltham and Weelsby) were detached to the adjoining Louth county constituency, and the parliamentary borough (which from this point was called Grimsby rather than Great Grimsby) consisted of the county borough of Grimsby and the urban district (later borough) of Cleethorpes. In 1950, Cleethorpes was moved into the Louth county division, leaving the borough once more consisting of Grimsby alone. More recent boundary changes have only been adjustments to conform to changes at local government level; the Great Grimsby name was restored in 1983.

Since the 1950 boundary changes that removed Conservative Cleethorpes from the constituency, this has usually been a safe Labour seat. The present MP, Austin Mitchell, won the seat in a 1977 by-election following the death of his predecessor, the Foreign Secretary Tony Crosland, by only 520 votes; but on the same day that Mitchell held Grimsby, Labour lost Ashfield, in the next county and apparently equally impregnable, on a 21% swing.

Members of Parliament


* 1584-1585: William Wray
* 1601-1604: Thomas Clinton
* 1604-1611: Sir William Wray
* 1604-1611: Sir George St Paul
* 1614: John Wray
* 1645-1648: William Wray
* 1654-1660: William Wray




Election results

Election box begin
title=General Election 2005: Great Grimsby
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = Austin Mitchell
votes = 15,512
percentage = 47.1
change = -10.8
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = Giles Taylor
votes = 7,858
percentage = 23.8
change = +0.7
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Andrew de Freitas
votes = 6,356
percentage = 19.3
change = +0.3
Election box candidate with party link
party = British National Party
candidate = Stephen Fyfe
votes = 1,338
percentage = 4.1
change = "N/A"
Election box candidate with party link
party = United Kingdom Independence Party
candidate = Martin Grant
votes = 1,239
percentage = 3.8
change = "N/A"
Election box candidate with party link
party = Green Party of England and Wales
candidate = David Brooks
votes = 661
percentage = 2.0
change = "N/A"
Election box majority
votes = 7,654
percentage = 23.2
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 32,964
percentage = 51.7
change = -0.6
Election box hold with party link
winner = Labour Party (UK)
swing =

Election box begin
title=General Election 2001: Great Grimsby
Election box candidate with party link
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidate = Austin Mitchell
votes = 19,118
percentage = 57.9
change = -1.9
Election box candidate with party link
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidate = James Cousins
votes = 7,634
percentage = 23.1
change = +1.0
Election box candidate with party link
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidate = Andrew De Freitas
votes = 6,265
percentage = 19.0
change = +0.9
Election box majority
votes = 11,484
percentage = 34.8
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 33,017
percentage = 52.3
change = -13.8
Election box hold with party link
winner = Labour Party (UK)
swing =


* Robert Beatson, "A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament" (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [,M1]
*"Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803" (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) []
* F W S Craig, "British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885" (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
* Peter Jupp, "British and Irish Elections 1784-1831" (Newton Abbott: David & Charles, 1973)
* T H B Oldfield, "The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland" (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
* Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, "The Unreformed House of Commons" (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
* J Holladay Philbin, "Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
* Robert Walcott, "English Politics in the Early Eighteenth Century" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956)
* Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)

See also

* List of Parliamentary constituencies in Humberside

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