Church tithes in early Scarborough

The local representatives of the abbot and convent of Citeaux collected the Scarborough church fish tithes from their fishermen parishioners. After disputes, in 1251, Roger Ughtred negotiated a new tithe agreement on behalf of the burgesses "for thesake of peace". The earlier arrangements are not known but the issue seems to have been how thenormal tithe, a tenth of any increase of a commodity, should be altered, to allow for the expense incurredin gathering the fish .The agreement was made in the presence of the Archbishop of York and was given Papalauthority.

"The said parishioners are at great labour and expense in the fishery, yet for the sake of peace", it was agreed that they would henceforth give the church", differently calculated payments for the Dogue Drave fishery, other sea fishings, and for Ferch." Every time, ships or boats went fishing to the Dogger Bank, they would give the church, every 40th fish, every 40th gallon of oil and 40th part of the penceor other things received in exchange for fish and oil, before deduction of expenses. This was reckoned a full tithe on one quarter of the catch. When they fished the dogger, everything was divided in four equal parts. Three went to parishioners for labour and expenses without tithe, but for the fourth part they give the whole tithe before distributing losses and ordeducting expenses.

On other sea fishing they would pay a 20th of herring and other fish, fresh or salt, of oil, and pence before the deduction for expenses. Everything was divided in two parts. Half was to go to them without tithes, but on the other half, they were to give the whole tithes. These parts were to be given to the church warden or messenger in the harbour but tithe of pence was to be taken to the church altar. For the fishery in a place called Ferch for taking herrings used by some fishermen in Winter, they could deduct expenses, then pay tithe on the residue.

The agreement to pay monies as an alternative to delivering fish or oil suggests that the sands rather than the area near the church was becoming the principal fish market. Dogger bank fish money, portions and tithes were still to be carried to the altar by masters of ships and boats, within a month of catching.

The tithe of other fisheries was to be taken to the altar seven times a year but the money payments were to be taken on seven feast days, 8 days before Whitisunday, St Peter ad Vincula (1 Aug,) Michaelmas, Martinmas, Christmas Day, the 1st Sunday in Lent and Easter Day. The steersmen (Gubernatores) of the boats had to accompanying the catch. The wages of fishermen's servants were divided in halves. Half was untithed as expenses, the other half was tithed in Lent. The men gave up their old right to the twellfth penny of the tithes, except when they plied and sold. The warden would give the 12th penny for tithes rendered in harbours other than Scarborough. This gave some incentive to pay what otherwise might have been lost to the church.


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