A Whitby lady called Marsanilla made a donation to the nunnery at Yedingham in the Vale of Pickering in the 12th century. Perhaps she was going to enter that religious house, of which a slight remnant stands on the north side of the river Derwent. She gave her toft at the port of Whitby, the old name for the plot on which a house stands. This had once been held by Walter the Forester, paying a rent to the Abbot of Whitby who was lord of that borough. He was probably the forester of William of Aumale who had built Scarborough Castle, and worried the Whitby monks into allowing him hunting rights in the Forest of Whitby. Two Scarborough men signed the deed, Ralph the chaplain and Ralph de Bolebec, the Scalby forester who had a Sandside plot at the bottom of Sandgate.
The Prioress and the nuns turned the gift to good advantage. Whitby was a developing haven for fishermen. Filey men put in there regularly. Men from Allerston and Pickering had moved to the borough. From Flanders had come Herman the Fleming to settle as a burgess. A Lincoln family of some substance wanted a borough plot and the nuns wanted fish for Wednesdays and Fridays, for the many holy days and the long meatless days of Lent. Hugh of Lincoln took their toft, for an annual rent of a thousand herrings, payable on St. Andrew's Day. Later members of the Lincoln family traded wine from Gascony. One established Whitby's only chantry, with a priest saying prayers for his soul.