The Early Years

In the beginning.......Professor Dr Alexander Brugge of the University of Christianaia has reported that Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were at the heart of Scandanavian England, and it wasn't until the end of the 12th century that the aristocracy dropped their Scandanavian names. Whitby has been called the most Scandanavian part of Yorkshire and a place name ending in "....thorpe" e.g. Fylingthorpe, is of Danish origin, and "....thwaite" e.g.Langethwaite (see 1563 below), is from the Norwegian word for a seperated small holding. The "" of Whitby and Normanby is, of course, of well known Scandanavian origin and there was a time when travellers from the Scandanavian countries probably felt comfortable with the language when arriving in the Whitby area. Ravenscar could have its roots in the fact that the raven was the bird of Odin, and the invasion by Norwegians can be seen in a roll of prophecies found by the Carmelites of Scarborough that read "when the black fleet of Norway was comed and gone, after in England should there be a war never". (10)

A further view on language reads "Until the 12th century there was one language in use over all Scandanavia (Norway, Sweden & Debmark) and in Iceland; and the same language was spoken in the Faroe, Orkney and Shetland Isands and in many parts of England, Scotland and Ireland"(24)

Early references to Fylingdales may be found in Charlton's History of Whitby describing the acquisition of part of Fylingdales from William the Conqueror by Tancred the Fleming who then sold it on after 30 years to the Abbot of Whitby. Then and in later years there are references to "Fielingam et aliam Fielingam", "Fieling and the other Fieling","Figeling", and "the town of Suthfieling". Then according to Young it was about the year 1107 when William de Percy, Abbot, founded St Stephen's chapel which is later included in the list of chapels belonging to St Mary's of Whitby in 1353.

George Young writing of the Domesday of 1086 refers to
(a) the Land of Earl Hugh in Witebi and Sneton and 'to this manor belongs the soke of these places Figelinge 1 carucate. Nortfigelinge 5 carucate' , and...
(b) Land of William de Perci Langburgh Wapentake 'In Figelinge Merowin had 1 carucate'... and then.....
(c) Earl Hugh claims of Wiliam de Percy 1 carucate in Figelinge in the wapentake of Langeburgh saying 'it belongs to Witebi, but he has no proof'.

To see a copy of the actual relevant extract from the Domesday Book itself click here.

On a lighter note it should be said there have been attempts to link the famous Robin Hood to the Bay. Perhaps the most entertaining piece is the following extract from ROBIN HOOD's FISHING:(11).

In summer time when leaves grow green,
When they do grow both green and long,
Robin Hood that bold outlaw
It is of him I sing my song.
  "The thrassle cock and nightengaal
Do chaunt and sing with merry good cheer
I am weary of the woods," said he,
"And chasing of the fallow deer.
"The fisher-man more money hath
Then any marchant two or three;
Therefore I will to Scarborough go
And there a fisher-man will be."

Certainly the name of Robin Hood was well known . An instance occured when Hugh Latimar, Bishop of Worcester, (1487-1555) was planning to preach amd he reported..... I came once myself to a place, riding on a journey, and sent word over-night into the town, that I woud preach there in the morning, because it was a holi/day. The church stood in my way, and I took my horse and rode hither, thinking I should find a grand company at the church. When I came there the church door was fast locked. I tarried there half and hour and more at last, one of the parish comes to me, and says, Sir, this is a busy day with us, we cannot hear you; it is Robin Hood's day; the parish are gone abroad to gather for \Robin Hood; I pray you hinder them not. And so I was fain to give place to Robin Hood.........(25)


1291 The Angliae et Walliae Taxation Ecclesiastica lists:
Ecclia de Filing 16-0-0 Antig' tax' and 8-0-0 Nova tax' (15)

1301 Lay Subsidy list of names in Filyng, Stoup et Thirnathe (12)

June 19th 1332. In the 3rd year of the reign of King Edward John Storm was convicted of taking a hind calf in Overstyrigg within the forest of Pickering, and he was outlawed. John Storm of Levisham, bailee, had to find 13s 4d, and William Storm paid 5s because the said John did not appear.

1324-1346 A letter from the Louis 1, Count of Flanders, to King Edward 3rd complains of Flemish fishermen together with their boats and catches being taken by force to Robin Hood's Bay. This could be the first time that the name apears in a historical document(22)

Image of King Edward 3rd from


1351  " Thomas son of John Stormy of Dromondeby in A.D. 1351 25 Edward 111 to Robert, abbot, and to these monks confirmed. All that they held of him in this place or in any other part of Cleveland, dated seventh of October, in the year above mentioned." (18)

1390 Charlton's preface reads - "As for the Allatsons, we find them located at Fyling-Dales , anno 1390; but I am of the opinion they possessed no freehold there, the whole parish belonging to the Monastery of Whitby."(9).

1395 Disbursements of Whitby Abbey for Fyling include 17 pence for the purchase of a fishing net.(19)


1532 Wm Jackson. House in Stowpe Browe and certain tithes in Stowpe Browe and Thirnaye in the parish of Fyleng, Yorks. Upon surrender of a lease (recited), 18 Nov. 25 Henry.VIII., of the premises to him and his wife in survivorship, by Whitby Abbey by which also he was appointed forester and keeper of Fyleng and Fyleng Dayles and of the woods therein, which office was confirmed to him by decree of the Court of Augmentations, 8 Feb. 32 Hen.VIII. 18 Feb

C1535 The Valor Ecclesiasticus, which reported the properties and revenues of Whitby Abbey, gives "....Fylyng & Stowpe cum Thornay & Raw ac Bay....".- An early reference to Bay albeit without the Robin Hood! (14)

1538 A lease granted on 18th November by the Whitby Abbot John Topcliffe: "Lease from the abbot and convent of Whitby to William Jackson of a house in Stoupe Brow in the manor of Fyling, tithes of Stoup and Thynway Brow and house in Robyn Hoyde Bay etc. Grants to the said Jackson the office of Forester of Fyling and Fylingdales two closes called Alum Hill, the Baker Close and grass for one horse in the Swallow Heyd." (Malton Buildings Group)

1539 At the Dissolution Richard Cholmley Esq., obtained a lease for 21 years of the site of the abbey and several portions of its lands. In 1550, before the expiration of the lease, these were sold by the Crown to John, Earl of Warwick, and the following year they were resold to Sir Edward Yorks, from whom they were purchased in 1555 by Richard Cholmley, who had, in the meantime. received the honour of a knighthood.(2). One of the properties is listed as Stoupe Brow with Willms. Cockerell as tenant.

1539 A muster "within the liberties of Whitby and Whitby Strand" includes "Fyling Dallz 52." (3)

1540 A survey of Whitby Abbey after the Dissolution has 'Robin Hoode Baye' with familiar names and a 'herynge house'. (4) Matthew Storm's name is prominent and there are 5 other Storms i.e. John, Peter, William, Robert and Bartholomew.

Charlton writes: "Nay, even the parish of Whitby itself was contracted and reduced within the ancient limits; the chapelry of Fylingdales, which always from its foundation had been dependant on Whitby, being now made into a seperate parish,..."(9)

c1540 John Leland reports ".... and so a 9.miles to Scarborow....Thens an 8. miles to a fischer townlet of 20 bootes caullid Robyn Huddes Bay, a dok or bosom of a mile yn lenghth; and then 4. miles to Whiteby....."(5)

c1540 Sir Richard Cholmley (6)

1541 The account Manerium de Fyling cum membris has an entry-
Reddus et Firm' in Robinhoodebaye 9 19s 2d (17)

1541 An account with woodcuts of the north east coastline by the Dutchman Cornelis Anthonisz names Roebenhoeds bay along with Schaerdenborch (Scarborough), Wytby, Hertepoel, Nieucasteel and Tynmuyen (Tynemouth). (23)

1542 A muster of 82 billmen and archers of "RobynHoyd Baye and Fylling Dayll" includes William, Robert, Peter and John Storm.(7)

1544 An attempt was made to save a small ship from the Scots by "the men of Robynhodbay in three of their boats and a dozen archers"(8)

1544 A group of English mariners were dropped off by the Scots at "Robyn Hoodis Bay". The Scots had taken their ship off Camfere.(20)

1553 In Whitby Abbey accounts "...pensions & ac still chargeable on the Abbey in 1553.......Johannis Storme xxvj s viij d (16).

1562 A letter from the Marquess of Winchester to Queen Elizabeth refers to the decayed state of the piers of Bridlington and Robin Hood's Bay and requests "that certain lordships of the crown may be let for defraying the necessary repairs" (21)

1563 In the particulars of the grant by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Richard Cholmley on 20th February there is: (9)
"....and several houses in Robynhoodebaye in the tenure of John Bircham...."
"....also twenty two cottages in Robynhoodebaye in the several possessions of....."

(names in alphebetical order by the editor)
John Bircham, John Cockerell, Robert Dales, Thomas Fletcher, William Forster, Robert Gretham, George Grindale, John Idill, Robert Johnsonne, John Kinge, Christopher Malteby, Thomas Marsigigall or Massingall, Thomas Pape, John Rawner, Robert Richardson, James Richardsonne, Richard Smythe, John Storm, the wife of ? Watson, Edward Wignar, William Wilsonne

"....also a close in Robynhoodebaye called the Cow Close let to Matthew Storm for a yearly rent of 38s 4d..."
".....also a cottage and close called Langethwaite Close near Robynhoodebaye in the possession of George Hewitson.......... and a cottage at Langethwaite ... let to Robert Richardson ..... and another close at Langethwaite ..let to Peter Storm...."

"....also twenty eight cottages in Robynhoodesbaye let to..."

John Clemens, Richard Daysonne, Katherine-lately the wife of John Dixson, Robert Docheman, Richard Hart, William Hepler, William Hewetsonne, William Huntrowes, John Laycocke, Robert Lelone, John Malteby, Joanna-lately the wife of Christopher Malteby, John Morsonne, the wife of Robert Moresonne, William Richardsonne, Agnes Salmon, John Smythe of Wakefelde, William Smythe, Thomas Stanrigge, Bartholomew Storm, Peter Storme, Robert Storme, William Storme, Thomas Thomsonne, William Willson, William Wrenche, Robert Wyndell.

-with landholdings -
"in Normanbye" - George Conyers, Thomas Stancliffe, William Stubbs

"in FylingeFeilde" - John Huntrowes and Thomas Huntrowes, William Stanerige.

"in Fylinge" - Edward Allatson, Richard Broune, Peter Dale, John Dobson, Joanna Fletcher, Robert Gretham, John Huntrowes.

"in Thorpe" - including 15 cottages - Allotson, Beane, Becham, Colson, Dale, Doson, Floter, John Grenekell the Parson, Harland, Jenkinson, Mershingales, Manne, Pate, Poskett, Radstone, Salmon, Sheminge, Sneton, Thomsonne, Watson, Wilsonne, Wodehouse.

1572 Yorkshire Fines ... Robert Brewester als. Balland, Robert Storme and Johanna his wife, Messuage
with lands in Aystlebye. Stephen Carre, Robert Watson, gent. ...
Feet of Fines of the Tudor period [Yorks]: part 2 (1888)

1573 Edward Sneton of Fylingthorpe willed that his wife should be followed in possession of his farm by his daughter,Isabel Storm.

1578 A survey of English ports with an iron furnace listed Robin hodes baie, (Who was the blacksmith, I wonder? -editor)(13)

1579, 1584 & 1588 Saxton map and Waghenaer's charts

Distances from a rough sketch map of the time of Elizabeth

(1) Dr George Young's History of Whitby, vol 2, 1817 p297.
(2) Bulmer's Directory of North Yorkshire
(3) J Gardner & R Brodie, editors of Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic of the Age of Henry 8th, pt 1, 1894 p314.
(4) Cartulaiun Abbatiae de Whiteby, Surtees Society LX11, 1905 p741-2 (PRO SC 6/4624, m6R, Ministers' Accounts. Henry 8th.
(5) The Itinerary of John Leland c1535-1543 edited by Lucy Toulman Smith (1907-1910) reprinted by Centaur Press Vol 1 Part 1 p51 (Bodleian)
(6) Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward V1, 3, 1925 p372 and 4,1926 p34.
(7) Alan's Family & Maritime Community:Robin Hood's Bay
(8) Barrie Farnhill's A history of Robin Hood's Bay p31
(9) Charlton' History of Whitby (A list of subscribers includes Mr Matthew Storm).
(10) The Norse Settlements in the British Islands. Transactions of the RHS 4th Ser., Vol.4, 1921 pp 173-210
(11) Robin Hood's Fishing edited by Stephen Knight and Thomas H. Ohlgren c/o Rochester University originally published in Medieval Institute Publications 1997 by Kalamazoo, Michigan.
(12)Summa, xls vd q.From: 'The Subsidy: Liberty of Whitby', Yorkshire Lay Subsidy: 30 Ed. I (1301) (1897), pp. 107-111. URL:
(13) Iron Furnaces in English Ports and Landing Places 1578 by David and Gervase Mathew. Oxford University Press
(14) Article "Why Robin Hood's Bay" by Jack Binns in the Transactions of the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society Number 36 of the year 2000. Also copy of 1825 print of accounts porvided by Christiane Knoebel, Hon Librarian & Archivist of Whitby Lit & Phil.
(15) Copy of document printed 1802, Auctoritate P Nicolai, provided by Christine Knoebel.
(16) History of Abbies and Moasteries by Sir William Dugdale 1817.
(17) Abstract of Roll, 32 Hen V!!! Augmentation Office in Dugdale. 1817
John Burton's Ecclesiastical History of Yorkshire 1758 p163. .
(19) Dr George Young's History of Whitby p917 (Itm.p. i rette p.
(20) Henry v111 Vol 19 pt2 p530 (Gale/Cengage Learning)
(21) Elizabeth Calendar of State Papers Vol XXV Nov 17 1562 (Gale/Cengage Learning)
(22) National Archives SC1/33, no 202.
(23) Article by Johannes Keuning published 1950 in The International Journal of the History of Cartography.
(24) On the Danish Element in the Population of Cleveland, Yorkshire by J.C.Atkinson
[25] The Life of Hugh Latimer ,Bishop of Worcester .By William Gilpin,M.A