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An Historical Account of English Money, 3rd Edition

Stephen Martin Leake, Esq, 1793
Edward I

Table of Contents

Edward I. after the Conquest, A. D. 1272.

[Note: Original spelling style has not been preserved in this transcription. f is rendered in the modern s, etc. ie, Majefty and Reverfe are presented as Majesty and Reverse resepectively.]

This magnanimous Prince, amonst other great atchievements of his prodent governemnt, restored and established good Money for the use of his people. At his accession to the throne, he found the treasury empty, and the Coin in very bad condition. The scarcity in the preceding reign, had encouraged the bringing in a great deal of base Money, to supply the want of better; and King Edward's absence, near two years after his father's death, increased this evil, so that the most remarkable deceits and corruptions are found in this reign, when [Lownds, p. 6. Camden's Remains, Stow.] there was imported (besides clipped Sterlings) a sort of light Money with a mitre, another with a lion, a third of copper blanched, in imitation of the English Money, a fourth like that of King Edward, a fifth kind that was plated, and others, known by the names of Mitres, Leonines, Pllards, Crokards, Rsarys, Staldings, Steepings, Eagles and Rosarys, [sic] which were coined in parts beyond the seas, privately brought into the kingdom, and uttered here for Sterlings, though not worth above an Half-penny.

To deter persons from carrying on this pernicious practice, soon after King Edward's return to England, it was enacted, [St. 3. E. 1. c. 15.] that such as were taken for false Money, should not be bailed. And for the better restoring the Coin to its ancient purity, in his third year he established a certain standard, as we are informed by an old ledger-book [Cam. Remains.] of the abbey of St. Edmundsbury, which was thus ordered by Gregory Rockley, then Mayor of London, and mint-master, "That in a pound of Money, containing twelve ounces, there should be eleven ounces two Pence Farthing pure leaf silver, commonly called silver of Gutberon Lane, and seventeen Pence Half-penny Farthing allay; the said Pound to weigh twenty Shillings and three Pence in account, the ounce twenty Pence, every Penny twenty-four grains and a half." And this seems to have been the standard all this reign; for in his twenty-eighth year, an indented trial piece [Lownds, p. 20, 34.] of the goodness of old Sterling was lodged in the Exchequer, and every pound weight Troy of such silver, was to be shorn at twenty Shillings and three Pence; according to which the value of silver in the Coin, was one Shilling, eight Pence Farthing an ounce. But there is no indenture [Lownds, p. 20.] of the mint, by which we can certainly judge of the fineness and ally in the fabrication of the Money, till the reign of Edward the Third.

In his seventh year, the Money [Daniel, p. 161.] was so much defaced by rounding or clipping, it was called in, and recoined. And the Jews, who were the chief authors of the mischief, were seized throughout England in one day, that the guilty might not escape, and two hundred and eighty convicted of clipping and coining were executed at London, besides great numbers in other parts of the kingdom, by which the King was a great gainer: and sometime after a stop being put to their usury, by the statute de Judaismo, they left the kingdom for a time. At the same time, [Camden's Remains.] the foreign base Money beforementioned was cried down by proclamation, except Pollards and Crokards, which were to pass at half; but afterwards they were totally prohibited.

But the greatest improvement of the Money, seems to have been in the eighteenth year of this reign, when the King, to perfect this great work, sent for William de Turnemere, [Lownds, p. 19, 94.] and his brother Peter, and others from Marseilles, and one Friscobald, and his companions from Florence, and employed them in the making of Money, and buying and exchanging of silver; and the same year there is an indenture of the mint for that purpose. Upon this occasion, the King had thirty furnaces at London, eight at Canterbury, (besides three the Archbishops' had there) twelve at Bristol twelve at York, and more in other great towns; in all which places the King's changers, at certain rates or prices prescribed to them, took in the clipped, rounded and counterfeit Monies, to be recoined, and bought gold and silver of the merchants, and others, to be fabricated into new Money. At the same time it was ordained, Quod proclametur per totem regnum, quod nulla fiat tonsura de nova moneta, sub pericalo vitae, & memrorum, & amissionis omnium terrarum & tenementorum, &c. And this new Money (as appears by the Red-book) was made in the following manner. First, it was cast from the melting pot into long bars, those bars were cut with sheers into square pieces, of exact weights; then with the tongs and hammer they were forged into a round shape; after which they were blanched, that is, made white or resulgent by nealing or boiling, and afterwards stamped or impressed with an hammer, to make them perfect Money. And this kind of hammered Money continued through all the succeeding reigns, till the year 1663, when the milled Money took place.

The kingdom being thus supplied with good Money, it was necessary, (in order to keep it so) to prohibit the use of bad: for which purpose it was enacted, [Stat. de Moneta, 20 #. 1. sect. 1. Rastal, Money, No. 1.] that no other Coin should be current but of the King of England, Ireland, and Scotland; that such as arrived in England from beyond the seas, should shew the Money they brought to the King's officers, and not hide it between clothes, in parcels, or in bales, (as had been the practice) upon pain of forfeiting body and goods; and if any such were found, he which found the same, to have four Pence of the Pound, and the rest to the King: that if any found Money of other Coin than of England, Ireland or Scotland, or rounded Money, to break the same, and false Money to be pierced without restoring it. And because many people could not know the light and clipped Money, it was ordained to pass by weight of five Shillings of even weight by the tumbrell, delivered by the warden of the Exchange, marked with the King's mark; and any man might pierce the Money that did not weight the tumbrell; and the Money of other Coin was to be weighed, and if the new Money wanted four Pence in twenty Shillings, and the old Money wanted Six-pence, to return it; and if above Six-pence, to be done of them as of the rest.

But because English clipped Money, and foreign counterfeit Money, was still brought into the realm, it was forbid, [Stat. of small Money, Rastal, No. 2.] upon forfeiture of the Money for the first offence, the same with all other goods found for the second, and for the third, forfeiture of body and goods: and all persons having such rounded or counterfeit Money, were presently to pierce the same, and send it to the Exchange to be new coined, or otherwise to be forefeited.

The King's Exchange [Strype's Stow, p. 83.] here mentioned, was near unto the cathedral church of St. Paul's, and is to this day commonly called the Old Change; but in evidences the Old Exchange. The King's exchanger in this place, was to deliver out to every other exchanger throughout England, or other the King's dominions, their coining irons, that is to say, one standard or staple, and two trussels, or puncheons, and when the same were spent or worn, to receive them, with an account what sum had been coined; and also their pix or box of assay, and to deliver other irons new graven, &c.

Afterwards, in a parliament at Stebunheath, [Stow's Survey of Lond.] holden in the house of Henry Waleis, Mayor of London Pollards, Crokards, &c. were prohibited [Stat. de falsa Moneta, 27 E. 1.] to be brought into the realm, on forfeiture of life and goods, and silver Coin or plate prohibited to be carried out; and all who brought Money from France, were to carry it to the table at Dover, and receive current Money of the realm. The calling in of these Pollards [Daniel, p. 167.] and Crokards, and the new stamping them again, yielded something to the King's coffers. Also, in his thirty-first year, he revived the statute of the fifty-first Henry the Third, concerning weights and measures, whereby the English Penny, called a Sterling, was to weigh, as formerly, thirty-two wheat corns, twenty Pence an ounce, and twelve ounces a pound.

This King's Coins are something different from those of his predecessors. He retained the cross and pellets, but left off the scepter; and after his sixth year the mint-master's name, and instead therof put CIVITAS, or VILLA, and was the first that added Dominus Hiberniae, to his stile upon the Coin; which is the more extraordinary, considering that King John and King Henry the Third both used that title upon their great seals, and both coined Money in Ireland: yet no mention is made of that kingdom, even upon the Irish Coins, till this Edward added the title of Dominus Hiberniae, which was continued, till Henry the Eighth changed the title of Lord, for that of King.

The Pennies of the three first Edwards are so much alike, that they cannot, with any certainty, be known from each other; but following the opinion of an eminent antiquary [Bish. York's manuscrip. Hist. of England, p. 256. Thoresby, No. 156.], it seems generally agreed, to place those, having only the three first letters of the name to this Edward; those with EDWA, or EDWARD, to the Second; the rest to the Third; and this reason is given for it, First, Because the former are in greater plenty, (five to one;) and it is well known, that Edward the First coined abundantly more Money than his son. And, Secondly, Because this King on his Irish Coin, has always EDW. and never otherwise. But it happens that Edward the Third's Irish Penny has the name in like matter, and therefore this latter observation falls to the ground.

The English Penny before his seventh year, has the mint-master's name, ROBERTVS DE HADLEY.

Those afterwards, have his head in like manner, full faced, and crowned with a crown composed of three fleurs de lis, and two rays or lesser flowers between, (whereas both upon his Groats and great seal, the circle or coronet has ducal leaves) and this epigraphe going around the head, EDW. R. ANG. DNS. HYB. Reverse, a cross to the outer circle, and three pellets in each quarter, CIVITAS LONDON LINCOL. EBORAC. CANTOR. DVRELIE, VILLA BRISTOLLIE. BEREWICI. NOVICASTRI. EXONIE. SCIEDMVNDI.

Another sort has the crown with pearls upon points between the fleurs de lis, the letters of the inscription being smaller than the former, EDW. REX. ANGL. DNS. HYB. Reverse, CIVITAS LONDON.

The Halfpence and Farthings were coined [Stow, p. 201.] in his seventh year, but not then first coined round, as some jingling verses tell us, for we have shewn the contrary; they were only made in the Exchange [Stripe's edit. of Stow's Survey, Lond. p. 83.] at London, near St. Paul's, still called the Old Change. The Halfpenny like the Penny, and Farthing circumscribed E. R. ANGLIE. without the inner circle about the head, which extends to the edge of the Coin. Reverse, the cross and pellets, LONDONIENSIS. An author [Baker's Chronicles, fol. London, 1684, p. 101.] tells us these small Coins were before this time of base metal.

This King is undoubtedly the first of our monarch that coined Grosses, or Groats, probably in imitation of the French, who had pieces of this denomination [Le Blanc, p. 170, 171.] a few years before, and called them Groats, because they were the largest silver Money in use, for till then there was no larger Coin than Pennies. These French Groats were finer than our's, having but a twenty-fourth part allay, weighing three penny weights seven grains, and were current for twelve Deniers of Tours, equal [Rymer, tom. 2, p. 854.] to Threepence sterling; our's weighed, or should have weighed, four pennyweights, according to the indenture [Lownds, p. 34.] of this reign: but the French Groat was soon raised in value, till it came to twenty Pence Tournois, whereas our's has continued at Fourpence, whence Fourpence in account is called a Groat.

They are said [Stow's Annals, p. 201. Survey, London, p. 83.] to have been first coined in the seventh or eighth year of King Edward, upon the recoinage of the old Money, (though, I think, more probably in his eighteenth year, when the greatest improvements were made in the Money) containing Fourpence the piece (says Stow [Survey, Lond. p. 83.] some few, but they were not usual; so that it seems they were never a current Coin, but only specimens or designs for a larger species of Money, as is evident by the pieces now extant, which are of different sizes and weights, from Fourpence to Sixpence, and by the Statute [Coke's Insitutes, part 2, p. 575. Articuli super Chartes.] of the twenty-eighth of Edward the First, the Penny is supposed to be the only current Money. This is the reason, no doubt, that our Historians attribute to Edward the Third the first coinage of Groats. These Groats (which are indeed great rarities) are truly represented in Speed's draught, having his head full faced, and crowned within a compartment of four parts, or rose of four leaves (as it is supposed [Thoresby, 195.]) for England, in like manner as the triangular harp is used for Ireland. EDWARDVS. DI. GRA. REX. ANGL. Reverse, two circles of inscription in the larger, DNS. HIBNE, or HBIN. DVX. AQVIT. In the lesser, CIVI. LONDONIA. Over all the cross, extending to the rim, and three pellets in each quarter in the centre.

This is the first mention of Aquitaine upon our Coins, though from Henry the Second it was inserted upon the great seals. It is also the first time we meet with dei gratia upon the Money, signifying a supream power, independent of God only; though the use of it was as old [Selden, Tit. Hon. p. 123, 127.] as Christianity in some kingdoms of Christendome, and used here by Ina the West Saxon King, and some of his successors; and which we likewise find upon the great seals of our Kings, from William Rufus.

In his twenty-second year, anno 1293, silver mines [Magn. Britan. in Cornwall and Devon.] were discovered in Cornwall, and at Comb-Martin in Devonshire, in which latter, was refined out of the lead ore, three hundred and seventy pounds, which the King gave for a portion with his daughter Eleanor to the Count de Bar. In the next year five hundred and twenty-one pounds were extracted, and sent to London to be coined; and in the following year, when the Derby miners were sent to help them, seven hundred pounds weight was sent to the mint, and in the ensuing year more mines were discovered. But whether the Money coined of this silver has any mark to distinguish it from the other silver, I don't know.

It is also reported, [Lownds, p. 95. Eng. Hist. lib. p. 255.] from the Red-Book in the Exchequer, that the aforementioned foreign minters, from Marseilles and Florence, bought gold as well as silver of the merchants, and fabricated it into new Money. Perhaps they might coin Florins, and it may be a specimen for gold Money, as the Groats were for silver, for of these latter it was doubted, (though we had the authority of Stow and Speed for it) till such were found different from those of Edward the Third. But as this is taken from an additional fragment, [Eng. Hist. lib. p. 255.] of a later date than the book itself, and no mention is made of it by any other author, we may reasonably suspend our belief, til some such pieces are discovered.

Besides the Money coined by King Edward in England, there was a great deal coined in Ireland, anno, 1279, under the direction of Stephen [Annals Camd. Hiber.] de Fulborn, Bishop of Waterford, Lord Deputy; there were mints at Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Pontana [Irish Hist. lib. p. 160.] or Drogheda. These Coins have the King's head within the triangle or Irish harp, like those of his father and grandfather, EDW. R. ANG. DNS. HYB. Reverse, a cross, with the pellets as his father, and the place of mintage, CIVITAS DVBLINE. CIVITAS WATERFOR. CIVITAS CORCACIE. and Halfpence like the Pennies. Some of the Pennies weigh very near twenty-two grains, which is above the standard of Edward the Third.

I have likewise seen a Penny like the former, (the inscription about the head not legible) which I take to be of this King. Reverse, the cross with a mullet in each quarter, like the old Scotch Groat, VRBE-LABIONEN, perhaps coined at Limerick.

The French Pollards and Crokards were prohibited [Camden, Annals Ireland, 1300.] in Ireland, by proclamation, at the same time they were in England.


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