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An Historical Account of English Money, 3rd Edition

Stephen Martin Leake, Esq, 1793
Henry VI

Table of Contents

Henry VI. A. D. 1422.

[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.]

In the first Parliament [St. 1 H. 6, cap. 5.] of this reign, the state of the mint was taken into consideration, and the Lords of the Council were impowered to appoint masters and workment, to make Money of gold and silver, and to hold the Exchanges in York, Bristol, and any other places they should think necessary; and all [St. 1 H. 6, cap. 4.] gold and silver brought to the Exchange, was to be sent to the mint to be coined; hereupon mints were erected in divers places. The next year [St. 2 H. 6, cap. 9.] Blanks were forbidden to be received or paid, upon pain of the statute of Henry the Fifth, against Galley Halfpence, Suskins, and Dotkins.

And whereas King Henry the Fifth ordained a mint at Calais, whereby great substance of Money of gold and silver had been brought into the realm, which was daily carried out to Bourdeaux, Flanders, and other places; the old statutes, [St. 2 H. 6, cap. 6.] provided in that behalf, were enjoined to be duly executed, on forfeiture of such Money, unless for payment of wars, soldiers, or prisoners. And to the intent that more bullion should be brought to the mint, the office and duty of the King's assayer, comptroller, and master of the mint, was ascertained by statute; [St. 2 H. 6, cap. 12] and the master enjoined to receive all silver brought to him, at the true value, and to coin all bullion brought thither; and to cause to be stricken from time to time, Half Nobles and Farthings of gold, Groats, Half Groats, Pence, Halfpence, and Farthings, according to the tenour of the indenture made between the King and him; so that the common people might have recourse to the Exchange for small gold and white Money.

In the same Parliament, the nine northern counties [Rot. Par. 2 H. 6. No 12. Drake's Antiq. York, App. 119.] petitioned for a mint-master to be sent to York, to coin gold and silver, for the ease and benefit of the said counties, as was done in his fathers time, which petition was granted.

The indenture [Claus. 1 H. 6. m. 1.] of the mint, to which the above-mentioned statute refers, was in the first year of Henry the Sixth, with Bartholomew Goldbeater, who has been master of the mint in the former reign, and is here called mint-master en le cite de Londres, cite de Denwyk, le ville de Brisaut, et en la ville de Calais: where is is remarkable, Dunwich is called a city, as having been formerly an episcopal see, the French word cité signifying an episcopal town, as anciently it did with us; and Bristol, though the second town in England, not being an episcopal see at the time, is only called ville; and accordingly the Coins struck at those places, are inscribed, CIVITAS. DONWIC. and VILLA. BRISTOL. By this indenture was to be coined Nobles at six Shillings and Eightpence, fifty to the pound; Half Nobles and Quarter Nobles in proportion: and of silver, Groats, ninety to the pound; Half Groats, Easterlings, Mailes, and Ferlings; of which silver Money, four ounces in every pound was to be made into Groats, two ounces in Half Groats, three ounces in Sterlings, two ounces in Mailes, and one ounce in Ferlings. This was the same standard and value as his father's Money, and so it continued all his reign, properly so called: but upon his short restoration to power, in his forty-ninth year, there was an indenture [Lownds, p. 39.] with Sir Richard Constable, master worker, for coining Angels of gold, at six Shillings and Eightpence each, sixty-seven and a half to the pound, making in tale twenty-two Pounds ten Shillings; and of silver, a hundred and twelve Groats and a half, amounting to thirty-seven Shillings and Sixpence, or proportionably in lesser Coins. This raising the value of the gold and silver, was according to the last indenture, [Lownds, p. 40.] in the fifth of Edward the Fourth, whereby Angels had been coined, suppposed to be the first of that species, as will be observed afterwards, being previous in time, though falling under a subsequent reign.

This Angel of Henry the Sixth, has on one side the figure of St. Michael standing upon the dragon, and piercing him through the mouth with the point of his spear; the upper end of the spear terminating in a cross bottone, HENRICVS. DI. GRA. REX. ANGL. Z. FRANC. Reverse, a ship with a large cross for the mast, on the right side whereof is the initial letter H, and on the left a fleur de lis for France, as we see upon his French Angelot. On the side of the ship, a shield of the arms of France and England quarterly, PER. CRVCSE. TVA. SALVA. NOS. XPE. REDETOR. a cross patè the mint-mark. Another has, FRANCIE. CRVCE. and REDET; so that there were different stamps of these Angels.

His other Coins, both gold and silver, are supposed to be distinguished from his father's, by the arched crown, surmounted with the orb and cross, being the first of our Kings who appears with an arched crown upon his Coins; but upon his great seal he has an open crown fleuri, with small pearls upon points between. This is likewise the first time we see the orb and cross upon the Money, though it had been used, [Selden, 183.] upon other occasions, by almost all our Kings, down from Edward the Confessor. The arched or close crown [Selden, 170, 173.] is not of ancient use, but in the empire, and thence, perhaps, was called imperial. Some think Edward the Third first used it, because he was Vicar-General of the Empire, and it is said that Henry the Fifth made him an imperial crown; but this King had certainly the best pretence to it of any Prince in Europe of his time, being crowned King both of France and England: but why he did not bear it upon his great seal, as well as his Coins, is not easily resolved, no more than that his successor should bear it upon his great seal, and not upon his Coins. If King Henry had used the arched crown upon his Money, it is probable he would have done the same upon his seal; and his successor, who bore it on his seal, would certainly have continued it on the Coin: but Edward's bearing it on his seal, is no argument that Henry used it, for the arched crown upon Money did not come into use till long afterwards. Henry the Seventh is the first of our Kings that we can be certain used it; and the testoone of Francis the First, [Le Blanc, p. 264, plate 1.] coined in 1516, is the first French Money we see it upon. But upon this Money attributed to King Henry the Sixth, there are two sorts of Crowns, one with a double arch, the other having only a single arch, as Henry the Seventh used it; whence, in all probability, the Money having the crown with one arch belongs to him, (Henry the Sixth not altering the fashion of the crown) and thus we see him full faced and crowned upon his first gold Money. As to those that have the crown with the double cross, it is uncertain whether they belong to Henry the Sixth or not, because we have no sufficient proof he bore an arched crown; and their weight rather determines them to Henry the Seventh, who, if Speed's draught of his great seal be true, bore the double arched crown, as well as [Sandford.] the single; it appears so upon his tomb, and he might make the same alteration upon his Money. If this be true, it may be questioned whether we have any Money of Herny the Sixth's, the weight, as well as the crown, being an argument against it, unless we suppose them to have been coined in the forty ninth year of Henry the Sixth, when silver, in Coin, was raised seven Shillings and Sixpence in the Pound, as it continued till Henry the Eighth. But they are too plenty to have been coined during that short-lived restoration; for as to the indenture mentioned by Mr. Lownds, in his first year, it should be [Pat. 1 H. 7, p. 2.] the first of Henry the Seventh; which, with some other mistakes in that writer, looks as if he had not (as he says) carefully inspected and examined the originals.

The Groat attributed to Henry the Sixth has the double arched crown, in all other respects like the preceding Kings; HENRIC. DI. GRA. REX. ANGL. Z. FR. (or FRANC.) These have commonly an anchor for the mint-mark, and are of London mint; but there are others of Calais mint, for that was not discontinued.

The Half Groat is like the Groat, but the title of France generally abbreviated to F. Of this sort, is one with AGL. for Anglie, CIVITAS. CANTOR. having a tun for the mint-mark. Another, CIVITAS EBORACI. with a key on each side the King's head, as being coined in the Archbishop's mint, and a martlet the mint-mark, or rather a bird, since those heraldick distinctions are supposed not to have come into use till the next reign. These mint-marks being likewise found upon the half-faced Money of Henry the Seventh, affords another arguement to prove them the Coins of that Prince. A very fair Groat with the single arched crown, has a cross-crosslet for the mint.

The Penny has the arched crown, like the larger pieces, but some with the double, and others with the single arch. The Halfpennies are usually of the latter sort.

In relation to the Irish Money of this reign, we find, [St. Hibern. 25 H. 6. cap. 6.] anno 1447, and the twenty-fifth of Henry the Sixth, that the practice of clipping having encouraged persons to counterfeit the Coin, it was ordained by Parliament, that no Money so clipped should be received after the first of May following, nor the Money called O'Reyley's Money, or any other unlawful Money; so that one coiner was already at the said day, to make the Coin. And [Nicholson's Irish Hist. p. 162.] in 1459, the mint was again opened at Dublin and Trim, where not only silver, but brass Money, was coined. Of this latter metal several old pieces have been found, which shew that some of the ancient Irish Bishops had the privilege of coining such Money.

King Henry, upon his accession to the crown of England, becoming heir of France, the Duke of Bedford, his uncle and Regend, with the consent of King Charles, ordered [Le Blanc, p. 242.] Money to be made with his stamp and arms. And Charles dying the twenty-first of October 1422, Henry was proclaimed King of France the twelfth of Novemeber following. During the first thirteen years of his reign, whilst Paris was in the hands of the English, he coined a great deal of Money, of gold, silver, and billon. The Crowns [Annals, Stow, p. 363.] that were stamped in the time of Charles, and all other Money, was forbidden to be current, and called to the mint, that had not the arms of France and England stamped on it; whilst Charles the Seventh, in the mean time, was forced to debase his Money, a thing [Le Blanc, p. 244.] that King Henry the Sixth did not all the time he was master of Paris.

His Coins of gold were Saluts, Angelots, Franks, and Nobles. The Salut [Le Blanc, p. 244.] was so called from the Salutation represented thereon; the Virgin Mary holding a shield with the arms of France, and the Angel, another with the arms of France and England quarterly, and in a scrole, AVE. circumscribed, HENRICVS. DI. GRA. FRANCORV. Z. ANGLIE. REX. Reverse, within a compartment, or rose of ten parts or leaves, fleuri at the points, a crucifix, between a fleur de lis, and a lion of England, with the initial letter H at the foot of the cross. Legend, XPE. VINCIT. XPE. REGNAT. XPE. IMPERAT. A lion the mint-mark. Another has a crown the mint-mark.

The Angelot has only one angel, holding the two shields of arms, HENRICVS. FRANCORV. ET. ANGLIE. REX. The reverse like the Salut, but without the rose encompassing it, and the initial letter.

The Frank, [Le Blanc, P. 6, p. 244.] so called, because it was of the value of a Frank or Livre, that is twenty Sols, very much resembled that of Charles the Fifth, having on one side the King's figure on horseback, in a fighting posture, with a drawn sword in his hand, his helmet crowned, and his armour and the trappings of the horse semè of lions and fleurs de lis, HENRICVS. D. G. FRANC. Z. ANGLIE. REX. Reverse, within a rose, or compartments of four leaves, or parts, a cross flori, with ornaments which seem intended for acorns, like we see upon the Black Prince's Coin, and the same at the points and interstices of the rose.

In January 1426, an ordinance was made in France, for coining of Nobles, Half Nobles, and Quarter Nobles, which (by the draught in Le Blanc) appears to be nothing different from the English Noble, if that be not one of Henry the Fifth.

The Billon Groat, [Le Blanc, 244.] has on one side the two shields of arms, like the Salut, and above the shields his name, HENRICVS. Circumscribed, FRANCORVM. ET. ANGLIE. REX. Reverse, the cross, fleur de lis, and lion, as the Angelot, and under it, HENRICVS. Legend, SIT. NOMEN. DOMINI. BENEDICTV.

Another has three fleurs de lis under a crown, supported by two lions, and reverse a cross fleuri, with the initial letter H. in the centre, which exactly answers the description of one of Henry the Fifth's Groats.

Petit Blanks, of two sorts, one with the two shields of arms, HENRICVS. REX. Reverse, the cross between H. R. SIT. NOMEN, &C. The other with the like shields under a crown, HENRICVS. REX. Reverse, the crucifix between the fleur de lis and lion, FRANCORVM. ET. ANGLIE.

The Double of Paris, or Double Denier, HERI. with a crown above, and the fleur de lis and lion underneath, FRAN. Z. AGL. REX. Reverse, the cross fleuri, CIVIS. PARISIVS.

The Paris Denier, HERI. under a crown; circumscribed, FRANCORV. ET. ANGL. REX. The reverse like the Double, but has a circle about the cross.

The Denier Tournois, has a fleur de lis and a lion under it, or in pale; H. REX. FRANCIE. ET. ANGL. Reverse, a plain cross, and an annulet in the centre; TVRONIS. CIVIS.

The Halfpenny has the fleur de lis and lion in fess; H. FRANC. ET. ANGL. REX. Reverse, a cross, OBOLVS. CIVIS.

Besides these, [Rymer, A. 2. 10 and 11 H. 6, tom. 10, p. 313, 498, 532, 544.] he coined Money of gold, silver, and billon, or black Money, at Bordeaux, and Bajonne, in Aquitaine, of the same stamp, allay, and weight, as had been coined in the time of Edward the Third, Richard the Second, Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth. And Mr. Thoresby [No 224.] mentions a piece of base Money, the legend imperfect, having upon the reverse two lions passant, and as many fleurs de lis, interchangeably in the four quarters of the cross, which is doubtless of this Aquitaine Money, but of which of the Henries, is uncertain.

There is also a great deal of other Money [Le Blanc, p. 245.] of gold, silver, and billon coined in that dutchy by our kings, as may be seen in a treatise of the Money of the Dukes of Aquitaine: but it has not been my luck to meed with it.

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