In 1779, a rider galloped through the town of Barton to the Waterside Inn. As he leapt from his sweating horse, the poor creature collapsed dying. The stranger ran into the inn and asked to speak to the ferrymen. He was told that, being low tide, there would be no ferry leaving Barton for hours. The stranger insisted that the ferrymen be sent for, but the locals didn’t bother, knowing it was a waste of time.
The stranger, becoming ever more agitated, looked for the ferrymen himself and demanded to be rowed across to Hull at once, but they merely laughed. Exasperated, the stranger drew a pistol and threatened to shoot them if they didn’t find some way of getting him across the river. The ferrymen at once stopped laughing and one of then, seeing his wife scrubbing her washing, hastily tipped the linens out of her tub and rolled the wash-tub to the shore. They all climbed in and the ferrymen sculled it out to their hoy (small rowing boat) anchored in the river. With the gun still held to their heads, the ferrymen rowed across to Hull. It was said to be the fasted they’d ever rowed.
Once ashore the stranger, spotted a farmer ploughing and demanded his plough horse at gun-point. The man galloped off on the startled beast to a crossing point on the river Hull, where he made the final crossing to the Citadel. There he delivered his message.
The citadel was completely unprepared for an attack. It didn’t even have the powder ready to load the cannons. But thanks to the messenger, the news arrived just in time to save Hull from the ravages of the ruthless pirate. So Lincolnshire folk now claim they saved Yorkshire, and all with the aid of humble wash-tub. Sadly there is no record of what the ferryman’s wife said to him on his return after having her washing ruined! But I think I can guess.
Photo shows Paul Jones's exhumed corpse. John Paul Jones died peacefully in France in 1792, aged 45. His body was rediscovered in 1905 and eventually exhummed and returned to the US. In 1913 it was laid to rest in a marble sarcophagus, modelled on the tomb of Napoleon, in the chapel crypt of Annapolis Naval Academy