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An Historical Account of English Money, 3rd Edition
Stephen Martin Leake, Esq, 1793
Edward VI

Edward VI. A. D. 1546-7.

[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 corruptions made in the Money by King Henry the Eighth, were continued by the guardians of King Edward, to the great dishonour of the realm, and injury of the people, till this young Prince, with an application beyond his years, set himself to the remedying this inconvenience, which yet was not effected till towards the close of his reign.

His first coinage was like the last, and worst of his father's, the pound of gold making thirty pounds in tale, though but twenty carrats fine, by wihich the King had a great profit: and the pound of silver making forty-eight Shillings by tale, though but one third fine; so that every pound of fine silver made seven Pounds four Shillings in Money, and the King's profit on every such pound was four Pounds four Shillings. For this coinage [Lownds.] John York and others were constituted masters and workers at the mint at Southwark, Sir Martin Bowes for the Tower, and William Tilworth at Canterbury; and, in the second year George Gale, under the same covenants for the mint at York. As base Money is most liable to be counterfeited, there was a great deal at this time, and as if it had been a fashionable vice, we find persons above the vulgar sort concerned in this practice. Sir William Sherrington [St. 2 and 3. E. 6, c. 17.] was indicted, and attainted by confession of high treason, for counterfeiting of Testoons, to the value of no less than twelve thousand pounds, and, probably did not confess the whole: and one Francis Digby, [Rymer, tom. 15, p. 292.] gentleman, was convicted for counterfeiting Shillings, Groats, Rials, and Crowns.

In this third year, [Lownds, p. 46.] a pound of gold of twenty-two carrats fine, was coined into Sovereigns at twenty Shillings each; Half Sovereigns, Crowns at five Shillings each, and Half Crowns, making thirty Pounds by tale; and a pound of silver, of six ounces fine and six allay, was coined into seventy-two Shillings, to go for twelve Pence a-piece by tale, of which the merchant, for every pound weight of fine silver, received three Pounds four Shillings, and the King above four Pounds gain, by a Commission to Sir Edmund Peckham, and others.

The next year the gold was brought to its ancient purity of twenty-three carrats, three grains and a half fine, and half a grain allay, which was coined into Sovereigns at twenty-four Shillings, Half Sovereigns, Angels at eight Shillings, and Half Angels; the pound making by tale twenty-eight Pounds sixteen Shillings. But the silver grew worse, for the following year Shillings were coined only one fourth part fine, seventy-two to the pound; by which means, twelve ounces of fine silver was exorbitantly raised to fourteen Pounds eight Shillings. But in July, the same year, the base Money, both his own and his father's, was reduced [Stow's Annals, 1551, AR. 5, p. 605, 606.] by a proclamation one fourth part, and the next month to one half, viz. the Shilling to Sixpence, the Groat to Twopence, the Half Groat to a Penny, and the Penny to an Halfpenny; which took effect immediately after the proclamation was made.

The thirtieth of October 1551, and the fifth year of his reign, the gold Money was raised, [Stow's Annals, 1551, AR. 5, p. 605, 606.] and, with the following Coins, made current by proclamation, viz. A whole Sovereign of fine gold thirty Shillings, another piece of fine gold, called an Angel, of ten Shillings, the third piece, called an Angelet, of fine gold of five Shillings, another piece of crown gold, called a Sovereign, of twenty Shillings, the Half of ten Shillings, the third piece of crown gold of five Shillings, the fourth piece of crown gold of two Shillings and Sixpence.

A piece of silver of five Shillings sterling, the second piece of two Shillings and Sixpence sterling, the third piece a Shilling, of Twelvepence sterling, the fourth piece of Sixpence sterling; of smaller Money, a Penny of the double rose, not sterling, but base; an Halfpenny of the single rose, the third piece, a Farthing, with a portclose.

These silver Crowns, though not strictly the first silver Money of that species, (because a few such pieces were coined by his father) yet are the first that were made current Money, and bear date in 1551, as Stow rightly informs us: and these are likewise the first Half Crowns of silver, and the first Sixpences we meet with of English Money.

The next year, by indenture [Lownds, p. 47.] a pound weight of gold, of the old standard aforesaid, was coined into thirty-six Pounds by tale; and a pound weight of crown gold into thirty-three Pounds by tale, in the several species as before-mentioned; and a pound weight of silver of eleven ounces one pennyweight fine, and nineteen pennyweights allay, was coined into three Pounds by tale, viz. in Crowns, Half Crowns, Shillings, Sixpences, Threepences, Pence, Halfpence, and Farthings. The Threepences coined by this indenture were the first Money of that species coined in England for such pieces had been coined in Ireland under Edward the Fourth.

Upon the Coinage of this good new Money, it seems, the same was brought up with the old bad Money at a premium, and hoarded, the natural consequence of permitting good and bad to be current at the same time: wherefore it was enacted, [St. 5 and 6 E. 6, cap. 19.] that if any person, after the first of April next following, should exchange any coined gold, coined silver, or Money, receiving or paying any more in value than the same was, or should be declared by the King's proclamation to be current for, the Money so exchanged should be forfeited, and the party suffer fine and imprisonment.

The base Money of King Edward, contrary to that of his father, has the side face, with Roman characters, and the fine, the full face, the old English characters. The base Shilling has the King's head in profile, crowned, EDWARD. VI. D. GRA. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX. Reverse, INIMICOS. EIVS. INDVAM. CONFVSIONE. (Psalm CXXXII. v. 19.) having the arms in a round shield, garnished, between ER.

Another has a different legend, TIMOR. DOMINI. FONS. VITAE. MDXLIX. One of York mint has Y. for the mint-mark; others dated 1547, and 1548.

A third sort, when the Money was the lightest, has the titles about the arms, and the motto about the head. Some of these base Shillings are stamped with a portcullis, which was done in Queen Elizabeth's reign, when they were reduced to Sixpence.

Mr. Thoresby [No. 273.] mentions a Threepence of the bad Money, EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FR. Z. HY. REX. Reverse, CIVITAS. CANTOR. but it seems rather to be a Groat, for the Threepence was of fine Money.

The Shilling of the fine Money has the King's bust, full faced, crowned, and (in the King's own words [His Diary.]) in parliament robes, with a chain of the order; but this is manifestly different from the collar of the order appointed by the statutes [Stat. the 38. Ashmole, Appendix.] of Henry the Eighth, which was to be composed of double roses, encompassed with the garter; whereas this has single roses of four leaves only, (without garters) and knots between: so that the form prescribed by the statutes was not at that time strictly observed, or else the graver was mistaken: and this I apprehend to be the first and only English Coin, or Medal, whereon we see the collar of the order; for before this the collars are various: nor does it appear upon the great seals till James the First. On one side the King's head is a large double rose, and on the other XII. for the value. The epigraphe in old English characters; EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX. Reverse, an escocheon of the arms of France and England, quarterly divided by the old cross, POSVI. DEV. ADIVTORE. MEV. A tun the mint-mark, being of Throgmorton's mint in the Tower. The Shilling of York mint, which is the better stamp, has a Y. for the mint-mark, and the word Meum at length.

The Sixpences of each mint are exactly like the Shilling, but have VI. instead of XII.

Another sort of York mint has smaller characters, wants the last M in Meum, has a Y. and a mullet of six points for the mint-mark, and on the reverse, instead of the usual legend, has the place of coinage, CIVITAS EBORACI.

The Threepence is like the Sixpence, with III. instead of VI. and in some the titles are abbreviated to AG. FR.

There is likewise a Threepence with CIVITAS. EBORACI.

As to Groats, Twopences, Pence, Halfpence, and Farthings, this King is supposed not to have coined any.

The silver Crown Piece of York mint, has the King's figure on horseback, in armour, crowned, and holding (as he expresses it in his own Diary) a drawn sword hard to his breast; the horse has large embroidered trappings, and under him the date 1551; EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FRA. Z. HIBR. REX. with a Y. for the mint-mark; the reverse like the Shilling.

The Half Crown is like the Crown, except the horse, which on that is in a riding posture, on this passant, with different trappings, and a plume of feathers upon his head.

The Crown of Throgmorton's mint of the same year 1551, is like the former, and the Half Crown strictly like the Crown; and there are some of the next year with the date 1552.

The Crown and Half Crown with the date 1553, immediately before his death, are alike, having the horse passant, and FRAN. for France.

There is likewise a Crown Piece, [Antiquary plates, No 4.] or piece of the value of a Crown, though little broader than a milled Shilling; having the King's head or bust in armour, with the side face, and crowned like some of the Half-Sovereigns of his third year; EDWARD. VI. REX. ANGL. FRANC. HIBER. Z. C. Reverse, the arms in an oval shield garnished, and in the top of the ornament the letter B. being coined by Sir Martin Bowes, [See Lord Burleigh's Letters, published by Hains, fol. Lond. p. 89, 97.] at Durham-House in the Strand, where a mint was erected; epigraphe, TIMOR. DOMINI. FONS. VITAE. MDXLVII. a rose the mint-mark.

Upon the first Sovereigns of Edward the Sixth, he appears like his father, sitting upon his throne, with crown, sceptre, and ball, EDWARDVS. VI. DEI. GRA. ANGL. FRANCI. ET. HIB. REX. Reverse, the arms crowned, and the like supporters as his father, with E. R. on the pedestal; IHS. AVTEM. TRNSIENS. PER. MEDIVM. ILLORV. IBAT. a pheon the mint-mark. One of this sort struck at York, has a Y. after the inscription, and the like on the reverse above the arms.

The Sovereign of his sixth year, has his profile figure in armour, crowned, holding a drawn sword in his right hand, and the orb in his left, EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FRAN. Z. HIBER. REX. The same reverse and legend as the former. A tun the mint-mark.

Another of York mint with Y.

The Half-Sovereign is like the Sovereign, but with a different reverse, having only a plain escocheon of the arms, crowned, between the initial letters E. R.

The Half Sovereign, of his third year, of York mint, has his bust in armour, crowned; EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX. Reverse, the arms in an oval shield, garnished and crowned; SCVTVM. EIDEI. PROTEGIT. EVM. the mint-mark a rose, others a pheon, a swan, or a bow, the mark of Sir Martin Bowes.

Another, of the same year, has his bust in armour, bare headed; SCVTVM. FIDEI. PROTEGIT. EVM. a rose between each word. Reverse, the arms crowned as the former, and E. R. with the titles, EDWARDUS. VI. D. G. AGL. FRA. Z. HIB. REX.

The Angel has St. Michael and the dragon as usual, EDWARD. VI. D. G. AGL. FR. Z. HIB. REX. Reverse, the ship, with E. and a rose; an eagle's head the mint-mark.

The Crowns of gold are like the Half Sovereigns, having the head in profile, some crowned, others bare headed; reverse, the arms in a shield garnished and crowned, with the legend SCVTVM, &C. but on the Half Crown the titles are abbreviated to F. Z. H.

Others have a rose crowned upon the reverse, between the initial letters, with the same legend.

There is also said [Catalogue of Mr. Grainger's Collection, Fowke's Tables.] to be Double Rose Nobles, Double Sovereigns, and Six Angel Pieces.

In Ireland there was new Money coined at Dublin, in his second year; and in his fourth year was an indenture [Irish Hist. lib. p. 166.] with Martin Pirri, for coining Groats, a hundred and forty-four to the pound, with Half Groats, Pence, and Halfpence; and the last year of his reign, the Groats of too base metal were ordered to pass at Twopence. Probably, this Irish Money of King Edward's was like his father's, for I have never seen any; but there was said to be a Groat in the collection of the late Mr. Grainger.

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