An Historical Account of English Money, 3rd Edition

Stephen Martin Leake, Esq, 1793
William and Mary

 

Table of Contents

King William and Queen Mary, A.D. 1688-9.

[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.]

The current Monies of King William and Queen Mary, are of the years 1689, 90, 91, 92, and 93. Of silver, from a Crown to a Penny; of gold, pieces of Five Pounds, Forty Shillings, Guineas and Half Guineas. Both gold and silver have their heads in profile, looking both to the left, in prospective, (as we see upon a medal of King James and his Queen) the King's before the Queen's, his head laureat, the busts extending to the rim; GVLIELMVS. ET. MARIA. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse, MAG. BR. FR. ET. HI. REX. ET. REGINA. But there is some difference in the bearing of the arms. The Half Crown of the first year has the arms in one large shield, crowned, viz. first, England; second Scotland; third, Ireland; fourth, France, with Nassau in the centre. This placing of France in the last quarter, was certainly owing to the manner of placing the four shields upon the former milled Money, where France is in the botoom shield, which is the last quarter: for, as a proof that on such alteration was intended in either case, the very same year, upon another Half Crown, the arms are properly marshalled, viz. France and England quarterly, in the first and fourth quarters, Scotland in the second, and Ireland in the third; and in an escutcheon in the centre, the arms of Nassau, being billety a lion rampant. Upon the rim, DECVS ET TVTAMEN, ANNO REGNI, PRIMO.

The Crowns and Half Crowns of their third, fourth, and sixth years, have a different dye, the head and face being larger, and upon the reverse the arms of the four kingdoms, in separate shields, crowned, like those of King Charles and King James. In each quarter the initial letters of their names, W. and M. interlinked, and in the centre, the arms of Nassau in a circular shield, with four figures round it, making the date of the year, 1691.

The Shillings and Sixpences are of the same stamp; but the smaller Pieces, from a Groat to a Penny, have only their heads, the necks bare, D. G. for Dei Gratia, and upon the reverse, the figures, 4, 3, 2, and 1, under a crown, denoting their resepctive values.

The Guinea and Half Guinea have both their heads as before, the necks bare, as upon their small silver Money, GVLIELMVS. ET. MARIA. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse, the arms in a single shield, crowned, France and England being quartered in the first and fourth quarters, Scotland in the second, and Ireland in the third, Nassau in the centre. MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. ET. REGINA. 1693. The Forty Shilling Piece, and Five Pound Piece, have only some little difference in the fashion of the shield, and the latter the inscription upon the rim, as the Crown Piece.

The first Farthings were of copper, with both their busts like the silver Money, GVLIELMVS. ET. MARIA. Reverse, Britannia, BRITANNIA. Exergue, 1689.

The next year tin Halfpence and Farthings were coined, with a bit of copper through the middle, having both their heads, with the legend and reverse like the former, except the date, and upon the rim, NVMMORVM. FAMVLVS. 1690. The Farthing has the date both in the exergue and upon the rim. But these being frequently counterfeited, new Halfpence and Farthings of copper were coined in 1694, like the first, but a better stamp, and exhibiting the King in short curled hair, more Caesar-like; exergue 1694. Another sort, of the same year, has much smaller characters than the other.

Though the state of the Coin had been very bad from the beginning of this reign, we find no laws relating thereto; only a repeal [Stat. 1 W. & M. c. 30. - 5 & 6 W. & M. c. 6.] of the statute of the fifth of Henry the Fourth, against the multiplying of gold and silver, by reason of the improvement in the art of refining metals and ores, upon condition the gold and silver, so extracted, was brought to the mint to be coined. And, to encourage persons having mines to work the same, it was declared, they should not be hereafter adjudged royal, though gold or silver might be extracted out of the same: and for the encouragement of coinage, the statutes [Stat. 4 & 5 W. & M. c. 24. sect. 3.] of the eighteenth and twenty-fifth of Charles the Second were continued.

But the grand evil [Hist. Reign of King William, Lond. 8vo. 1703, vol. 3, p. 49, 120] in Coin, the pernicious practice of clipping, was either not heeded, or wilfully neglected, whereby it grew to such a height, that five Pounds was scarce worth forty Shillings; besides a great deal of base, counterfeit Money, clipped, the better to disguise it. The nation suffered unspeakably by this evil, both in carrying on the war, as well as trade. The supplies raised to maintain the army were rendered ineffectual, by the unequal exchange, and exorbitant premiums, a Louis d'Or being, at that time, worth twenty-four Shillings, and a Guinea thirty Shillings: the Dutch buying our manufactures with Guineas, by which profit, they were able to sell them abroad cheaper than our merchants: and not only the Dutch, but all Europe send their gold hither to buy our goods, and out silver, at this exorbitant price; so that the nation was impoverished, and in danger of being undone, by plenty of gold.

Melting down and exporting, had very much contributed to lessen the silver specie, but clipping was undoubtedly the principal cause, which, during the unsettled state of the nation for fifty years, had been carried on with impunity, by those who drove a trade in exchanging broad Money for clipped Money. To prevent this, and act [St. 6 and 7 W. 3, c. 17.] was passed, whereby, after the first of May 1695, none was to take or pay unclipped money for more than the value, or to have filings or clippings in their custody, under very severe penalties: None but goldsmiths were to sell bullion, and the same was not to be exported but by certificate, being first stamped at Goldsmiths Hall: and in case of seizing of bullion intended to be exported, the Onus Probandi was to lie on the claimer. But this had no effect to prevent clipping, or the currency of the clipped Money: for notwithstanding these laws, and many examples of justice, the evil was so general, that no sufficient remedy could be found [St. 7 W. 3, C. 1.] but recoining. Various [Life of King William, vol. 3, p. 120, 122.] were the opinions upon this occasion, whether to debase the metal, lessen the weight, or raise the value of the several species of silver Coin, (as Mr. Lownds proposed) equal to the price of silver (which was then commonly sold for six Shillings and Threepence the ounce) in order to keep our Money at home. But at the same time it was matter of fact, that five Shillings and Twopence of good milled Money, would buy an ounce of silver; so that the difference of the price did not arise from the grater value of the bullion, but the lesser value of the Coin. In like manner, with regard to foreign countries, not the Coin, but the weight and fineness of the bullion therein, was regarded as the measure of other commodities. And we had no way of keeping our Money at home, but by out-trading other nations; and in that case we should not want Money, though we had no Coin of our own. Upon these considerations, the parliament [Stat. 7 W. 3. c. 1.] resolved to recoin the clipped Money, according to the established standard of the mint both as to weight and fineness, and that the loss of such clipped Money should be borne by the public.

As to the method to be observed in this recoinage, it was enacted, [Stat. 7 W. 3. c. 1.] First, That the clipped Money in the exchequer should be sold, weighed and delivered to the mint to be coined, according to indenture; the charge or coinage not to exceed Fourteen-pene in the Pound. That the receivers of the revenue should take the clipped Money in payment, till the fourth of May 1696, though of a coarser allay than standard, the same not evidently appearing to be copper, or base metal, or washed with silver only; which they were to pay into the exchequer by the twenty-fourth of June, from whence it was to be sent to the Tower to be recoined, and upon every hundred pounds weight Troy, forty pounds was to be coined into Shillings, and ten pounds weight into Sixpences. In the mean time, hammered Money having both rings, or the greatest part of the letters appearing thereon, was to be current, being punched through, and if clipped afterwards, not to be received or paid by tale under forfeiture; and Sixpences not clipped within the inner ring, to be current, being sterling silver: and the duty [Stat. 7 and 8 W. 3, c. 18.] upon houses and paper, were appropriated to make good the deficiency on the recoinage.

This provision by law to receive the clipped Money, was the greatest encouragement to promote clipping, and gave the clippers all the advantages they could desire, making the crimes more general; for now they were sure of a market for their clipped Money; so that what had been hoarded, and hitherto escaped the shears, now underwent the same fate: and it is not improbable, that more was clipped and reclipped upon this general licence, than had been before, it being too commonly thought no crime to cheat the public: and when the new Money first came out, the difference [Life of King William 3, vol. 3, p. 125.] between that and the old hammered Money, allowed to be current, sent a great deal into the melting pot, or abroad to purchase gold, which was such a profitable commodity.

The want of Coin still subsisting [Life of King William 3, vol. 3, p. 125.] it was thought necessary to give encouragement to bring in milled Money, broad unclipped Money, or wrought plate, and to prohibit the melting or exporting any Coin or bullion, or the use of plate in public houses; which last had a good effect, and brought a great deal of bullion to the mint.

In the mean time a paper-prop supported the state, whilst its silver pillars were removed, which laid the foundation of our paper credit: but there was gold too much, necessity giving a currency to Guineas, til silver was supplied; and as soon as this was done in some measure, Guineas were lowered to twenty-five Shillings, after the twenty-fifth of March 1696, and Half Guineas, Double Guineas, and Five Pound Pieces in proportion, under a penalty, but not compelling any one to receive them at that price. An act [St. 7 and 8 W. 3, c. 13. - 8 W. 3, c. 1, sect. 1.] was likewise passed for taking off the obligation for coining Guineas, from the second of March 1695, till the first of January following, during which time no Guineas were to be coined at the mint, and they were also forbid to be imported. The tenth of April 1696, they were brought down to twenty-two Shillings, and being now reduced so near the standard, and the nation better stocked with the new silver Money, Guineas were again coined, and it was made lawful to import the same.

To bring in what silver remained, for a further supply of the mint, all hammered silver Money, [St. 8 W. 3, c. 2. - 8 and 9 W. 3, c. 7. - 9 W. 3, c. 2.] clipped or unclipped, brought thither between the fourteenth of November 1696, and the first of July following, was to be taken at five Shillings and Fourpence the ounce, and by receivers and collectors of the taxes and revenues, at five Shillings and Eightpence the ounce, and carried to the next mint to be recoined. And after the first of December 1696, no hammered silver Money (except as aforementioned) was to be current, otherwise than by weight, at Five Shillings and Twopence the ounce; and for wrought plate brought to the mint, between the fifth of January 1696, and the fourth of November 1697, was to allow five Shillings and Fourpence the ounce sterling, and the collectors of the land-tax were impowered to receive that tax in like manner, at the rate of five Shillings and Fourpence the ounce, before the first of June 1697.

After the tenth of January 1697, all hammered silver Money was declared unlawful, and no Coin of the realm, but might be brought to any of his Majesty's mints in the Tower, or at the cities of Briftol, Exeter, Chester, Norwich, and York, before the first of March 1697, to be coined. And to prevent the currency of clipped or counterfeit Money, and person [St. 9 and 10 W. 3, c. 21.] had licence to cut or deface such; or being otherwise diminished, than by reasonable wear; or that by the stamp, impression, colour, or weight, he should suspect to be counterfeit.

And as the greatest security against counterfeiting the milled Money, was the difficulty of being provided with coining-presses, and tools for that purpose, it was made high-treason [St. 8 W. 3, c. 25.] to make or mend any such, or any dyes, moulds, or tools for the same, or even to have any such in custody, or to mark the edges of counterfeit Coin, or to make Pieces resembling the current Coin to be stamped, or to make any malleable composition of mixed metal heavier than silver.

From 1691, to the fourteenth of August, 1697, there was brought to the London and country mints, [State of the Nation, in Respect to her Commerce, Depts, and Money, 8vo. Lond. 1726, p. 17, 18.] eight millions, four hundred thousand pounds of clipped, light, and hammered Money; and, in all probability, there might be a great sum standing out: and the milled silver coined in King Charles the Second's, and King James's reign, about two millions, two hundred thousand Pounds; so that all the silver Money might be about eleven millions. The gold Money then in the nation was computed at eighteen millions, five hundred and twenty-three thousand, four hundred and fifty-six Pounds, of which might be coined by King Charles and King James, about six millions, five hundred thousand. But another writer [A Review of the Universal Remedy for Coin, 9vo. Lond. 1696, p. 6.] computes the unclipped hammered Money remaining in 1696, at calling in, two millions; and that from the first coining of Guineas, there had been considerably above seven millions coined, according to the registers of the mint, which will add near three millions more to the account.

Thus, after two years, this great work was compleated, and the old hammered Money entirely abolished, to the honour, indeed, of the nation, but with great difficulty, and prodigious charge to the public, besides infinite loss sustained in trade, by the exorbitant price of Guineas, which bought our commodities; all which might have been avoided, if the pernicious consequences of it had been considered in time. Upon a like occasion, during the usurpation, in 1647, the method then tekan by the parliament was, First, To prohibit all diminished or clipped Money being current or payable, and directing that the same should be esteemed as bullion, and no otherwise; and then, to allow so much per ounce for the same as bullion, being brought in within a time limited: and if their usurped authority had continued, no doubt, but it would have had the desired effect. If the same means had been applied at this time, it would soon have brought down the extravagant price of gold, preserved a great part of the silver from being clipped, and brought the clipped Money to the mint to be recoined at a small charge. The loss would chiefly have fallen upon those who had made a trade of clipping, and deserved to suffer and refund some part of their unjust gain; for as to small sums in the hands of private persons, the loss would have been nothing, in comparison of the benefit from the recoinage. By this means many millions might have been saved.

After this, in the year 1700, there was such vast quantities of French gold in the nation, [Kennet's Hist. of Eng. vol. 3, p. 467.] that the whole trade was in a manner carried on with that Coin, though they wanted Sixpence of their true value. The quantity of it occasioned a report, that Count Tallard, the French Ambassador, had brought it over, and distributed it to some members of the House of Commons; whereupon the Council made an order, the fifth of February, and a proclamation followed, that the Louis d'Or, and Spanish Pistoles, should not go for above seventeen Shillings; this brought them to the mint, [Sir Isaac Newton's Letter to the Treasury, 21st September, 1717.] and one million, four hundred thousand Pounds was coined out of them.

The Money of King William has his bust laureat, GVLIELMVS. III. DEI. GRA. Reverse, the four shields of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, in their circular order, and Nassau in the centre, MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. 1696. but, by mistake, some of the London mint have the date 1690.

Some of the silver Money of 1699, has the addition of a rose in the quarters upon the reverse, being from the mines in the west of England, which are coined for a trial, but each Shilling [Thoresby, No 596.] standing the proprietor in five Groats (as is commonly reported) no wonder they were discontinued.

Others of the same year, and of 1701, have the Prince's feathers in the quarters, being of Sir Carbery Price, and Sir Humphrey Mackworth's mines in Wales.

The Money coined at Bristol, Chester, Norwich, York and Exeter, are distinguished by the letters B. C. N. Y. or y. and E. under the King's head.

The small Pieces, from a Groat to a Penny, have the King's head and epigraphe, like the larger Pieces, but upon the reverse have the figures 1. 2. 3. 4 under a crown, denoting their values, but without any graining upon the rim, none of these small Pieces having any, either before or since. There is a Groat of 1702, though the King died before that year, according to the English account.

The Guinea, Half Guinea, Forty Shilling and Five Pound Pieces, are strictly like the silver Money, except that the neck is bare, and the sceptres are added in the quarters upon the reverse. In 1701 was a new dye.

The copper Halfpence have his bust in short hair, laureat, GVLIELMVS TERTIVS. Reverse, Britannia, BRITANNIA. Exergue, the date, 1695; but one in 1699, has the date in the legend. That year an act [Stat. 9 and 10 W. 3, c. 33.] was passed to stop the coining of Halfpence and Farthings for one year, though it seems to have had no effect, there being noto nly the before mentioned Halfpence of that year, but of every year from 1695, to 1701, inclusive.

The Scotch Coins of King William and Queen Mary, have both their heads, as upon the English Money, but turned the contrary way, viz. to the right; GVLIELMVS. ET. MARIA. DEI. GRATIA.

The Forty Shilling Piece has 40 under the heads; reverse, MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. ET. REGINA. 1691. The arms in a shield crowned, viz. Scotland in the first and fourth quarters, France and England quarterly in the second, and Ireland in the third, Nassau in the centre. Upon the rim, PROTEGIT. ET. ORNAT. ANNO. REGNI. SECVNDO. for they did not commence their reign in Scotland, till April 1689, and this is the first Scotch Money with an inscription upon the rim.

The Sixty Shilling Piece has 60 under the head; the Twenty Shilling Piece 20; the Ten Shilling Piece 10; the Five Shilling Piece 5; and this last, instead of the arms, has their cypher crowned; and from the Twenty Shilling Piece, downwards, have graining upon the rim.

The Babee has their heads, circumscribed, GVL. ET. MAR. D. G. MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. ET. REGINA. Reverse, the crowned thistle, NEMO. ME. IMPVNE. LACESSET. 1692.

The Bothwell, instead of their heads, has their cypher crowned; in other respects, like the Babee.

The Forty Shilling Piece of King William, has 40 under the bust laureat, GVLIELMVS. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse as the former, MAG. BRIT. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. 1695. Upon the rim, PROTEGIT. ET. ORNAT. ANNO. REGNI. SEPTIMO.

The Twenty and Ten Shilling Pieces, have 20 and 10 under the head.

The Five Shilling Piece 5 under the head, GVL. D. G. MAG. BR. FR. & HIB. REX. Reverse, the branched thistle with three heads, NEMO. ME. IMPVNE. LACESSET. 1696. This and the two former being grained upon the rim.

The Babee is the same on both sides, but the thistle is single-headed, as it is also upon the Bothwells; but they have his name at length.

Another Bothwell has the sceptre and sword in saltier [saltire], under a crown, GVL. D. G. MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. Reverse, the single-headed thistle with leaves, crowned, NEMO. ME. IMPVNE. LACESSET. 1696.

The Guinea and Half Guinea of Scotland, as some call them (and are in Mr. Anderson's [Diploma & Mumisma Scotiae, fol. Edinburgh, 1739.] Tables) have the King's head looking to the right, and under the head a rising sun, GVLIELMVS. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse, the arms crowned, between W. R. crowned, MAG. BRIT. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. 1701. There is likewise a Darien Pistole of King William, having his bust on one side, GVLIEL. D. G. and reverse, the arms crowned between W. R.

In Ireland, a proclamation [Kennet's Hist. Eng. vol. 3, p. 203.] was issued the tenth of July 1690, to reduce the extravagant value of copper Money, to the value of the like copper Money formerly current in Ireland. King William and Queen Mary coined only Halfpence and Farthings (of copper, brass, and pewter) after the example of two of their immediate predecessors, and after the Queen's death, the King did the like.

These have both their heads, as upon the English Guinea; GVLIELMVS. ET. MARIA. DEI. GRATIA. Reverse, MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. ET. REGINA. the harp crowned, with the date on each side, 1692. It is a neat copper Piece, grained upon the rim, weighing four pennyweights fifteen grains, which is near a third part lighter than the English Halfpenny.

Those of King William have his head laureat, GVLIELMVS. III. DEI. GRA. Reverse, MAG. BR. FRA. ET. HIB. REX. the crowned harp, and date, 1696.

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