1551 Edward VI., in consideration of the great loyalty of the inhabitants of Hull, both to himself and his ancestors, granted to the burgesses the entire manor of the town. The sixth part of that of Sutton; the patronage of the Charter House Hospital, together with all the messuages, lands, tenements, mills, meadows, pastures, rents, revenues, waters, fisheries, tolls, markets, customs, natives and villains, both male and female, in and over the town and county of Kingston-upon-Hull, and all the towns belonging thereunto. He likewise gave and confirmed to the Corporation the custody and charge of the Castle and Blockhouses, and appointed them to be keepers and governors of the same; the Mayor and Burgesses agreeing to keep them in sufficient repair, at their own cost.
1551, The Sweating Sickness, ravaged England, and its dreadful effects were severely felt in this town. A lot of people died in Hull but the number is not recorded. It appeared at Shrewsbury on the 15th of April, and spreading towards the north, continued until October. People in perfect health were the most liable to be seized with it, and, in the beginning of the distemper, it was almost certain death in a few hours. Seven householders, who all supped cheerfully together over night, but before eight o'clock the next morning, six of them were dead. So great was the fear generally excited by this alarming disorder, that great numbers fled out of the kingdom, hoping to escape the contagion; but, it followed them, and was peculiar to the English. Even those who went to the continent, amongst men of different nations, the infection seized them, and them only.
1553, Mary 1 came to the throne and her short reign passed over without making any important additions to the records of Hull.
1558, Elizabeth 1 came to the throne.
1569, the Lord Regent of Scotland (Lord Morton), and Henry Carey Lord Hunsdon (cousin to Queen Elizabeth) and several Scottish noblemen, came to Hull on their way to London, and were nobly entertained for two days. About the same time the Earl of Sussex, came to survey the state of the fortifications, and to examine whether the town was in a fit condition to withstand a foreign invasion. He ordered the walls and gates, which were at that time in a bad condition, to be immediately repaired, and the moat to be cleaned out.
The Catholics made their last attempt in the north to restore their religion, by assembling, 1,600 horse and 4,000 foot, under the command of Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Neville, Earl of Westmorland. The first object was to release the Queen of Scots from Tetbury, and get a declaration from Elizabeth, that she (Mary) was next heir to the throne. They stated that they did not intend to attempt anything against the Queen, to whom they avowed unshaken allegiance. They called upon all true Englishmen to join with them in their attempt to restore the crown, the nobility, and the worship of God, to their former estate.
The failure of this insurrection involved many of those engaged in it, in ruin. On Good Friday, in the year 1570, several of them were "hanged, drawn, and quartered" at York, and their heads were placed upon the gates of that city. The Earl of Westmorland escaped to Flanders, but the Earl of Northumberland was beheaded at York. About 800 persons are said, in the whole, to have suffered by the hands of the executioner.
Some years after the reformed religion had been firmly established in this kingdom, the Rev. John Tickell said that the sins of fornication and adultery were so prevalent at Hull, that the magistrates were obliged to issue out the strictest orders relative to those vices, and use all the means in their power to suppress them.
In 1571 there another flood with the injury sustained to both in town and country was immense.
In 1576, that dreadful distemper, the plague was brought into this town by some seamen, from neglect of quarantine. It was, however, confined to Blackfriargate, which was so deeply infected that it was judged necessary to wall up all the avenues leading to that street, leaving open only two doors, where watchmen were placed, to take in provisions and medicines, and to see that none of the infected made their escape. These wise though rigorous precautions had the desired effect, the epidemic soon subsided, and not more than one hundred of the inhabitants became its victims.
Hull was now enjoying prosperity, and the wealth of her ships tempted the cupidity of the pirates, by which the seas were then infested. The Humber's mouth, as well as all the eastern coast, were so harassed and obstructed by them, that scarce a merchant ship could sail with safety. To remedy this evil, the Lord High Admiral of England required the town of Hull to fit up two stout ships of war to protect their own vessels, and to assist in scouring the adjacent coast. These ships being well equipped and manned, sailed in quest of the maritime robbers, and they had soon the good fortune to capture several of them, and to bring them into Hull. The pirates were soon after tried by a special commission, at which the Earl of Huntingdon (Lord President of the North) presided, attended by the Mayor and Aldermen as judges. Six of the misguided men were found guilty, and, in virtue of their sentence, were executed and hung in chains at different places on the neighbouring coasts.
In 1582 the Archbishop of York granted an ecclesiastical commission to authorise and empower the Mayor and Aldermen of Hull to suppress the gross immoralities of the times, by severely punishing the guilty, without any respect to the outward circumstances of the offenders.
1583 the prisons of this town being full of criminals, the Lord President of the North, at the request of the Mayor and Aldermen, came and sat as judge to try them. Three persons were convicted of felony, and suffered the punishment of death; and three poor old women were tried for witchcraft, one of whom was sentenced to stand in the pillory on four separate market days, and to suffer a year's imprisonment.
When King Philip of Spain threatened to invade England, and Queen Elizabeth asked her subjects to defend her with their lives and fortunes, about 600 of the principal inhabitants of the town of Hull, and 200 of the county of that town, enrolled themselves members of it; and the town and county readily sent a loan of £600., to enable her Majesty to defend her kingdom against the storm which was gathering over it. Several of the Queen's letters sent here on this occasion are yet preserved among the town records. "When this formidable invasion was attempted,
1588, The Armada was beat, scattered, and destroyed, upon our shores, by the raging of the elements.
1592, after some heavy gales of wind from the south-east, a large fish was driven ashore near Drypool, and excited much admiration. It was almost of an oval shape, six feet long, five feet broad, and six feet between the extreme parts of the upper and lower fins. One of the fins was placed on the back, and the other on the belly, designed perhaps by nature to keep it erect in the water. It was probably a Sun Fish.
In 1596 the Queen having received intelligence that the King of Spain was once more preparing to invade England, resolved to give a demonstrative proof that England could attack as well as defeat. With this view she immediately commanded a fleet to be got ready, and wrote to all the sea-port towns to aid her with an additional number of ships. The letter sent by her Privy Council on this occasion to the town of Hull, contained a request that a ship of great burden should be fitted out, manned, supplied with ammunition, and victualled for a voyage and expedition of five months, at the charges of Hull, and such other towns and ports as did contribute for a similar purpose in 1588. This town readily fitted out a stout ship of war, at a very considerable expense; and her Majesty was pleased to order that the towns of Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax, which traded much to Hull, should bear a proportionate part, to which they willingly consented. The same year the Queen renewed and confirmed all the old charters granted by her predecessors to the town of Hull, and granted many additional privileges.