Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTIONS. - A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money
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QUESTIONS. - John Ramsay McCulloch, A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money 
A Select Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts on Money from the Originals of Vaughan, Cotton, Petty, Lowndes, Newton, Prior, Harris, and Others, with a Preface, Notes, and Index (London: Printed for the Political Economy Club, 1856).
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Qu. 1.Whether the old unequal Money ought to be new Coined, and brought to an equality?
Answ. It ought: Because Money made of Gold and Silver is the best Rule of Commerce, and must therefore be equal, or else it is no Rule; and consequently no Money, and but bare Metal which was Money before it was worn and abused into Inequality.
Qu. 2.At whose Charge?
Answ. At the States Charge, as now it is: Because the Owner was no cause of its Inequality, but the States neglect in (not) preventing and punishing such Abuses, which are remedied by new Coinage.
Qu. 3.Of what weight and fineness ought the new Shiling to be?
Answ. Of the same with the other present new Money, and which the old was of, when it was new: Because all must be like, all according to the Statute; and all fit to pay ancient Debts, according to what was really lent.
Qu. 4.Suppose 20s. of old Money may make but 18s. of new, who shall bear the loss of the two shillings?
Answ. Not the States: Because men would clip their own Money: But the owner himself must bear the loss, because he might have refused light and defective Money, or put it away in time; it being sufficient that he shall have new regular beautiful Money for his old unequal Money, at the States Charge, Ounce for Ounce weight.*
Qu. 5.After this Reformation of Coin, Will more Silver be carried out of England, suppose into the East-Indies, then before; and to the Damage of England?
Answ. Somewhat more: But none to the Damage of England, Eo Nomine; but rather to its Profit: Because the Merchant will be considered for the Manufacture of the new Money; besides the Metal of it, as he only was when he carried out Spanish Reals.
Qu. 6.Whereas the Merchant carries Scarlet and Silver to the Indies, will he not now carry only the new coined Silver?
Answ. The Merchant will buy as much Scarlet as he can for 100 new Shillings, and then consider whether he shall get more Silk in the Indies for that Scarlet than for another 100 of the like Shillings: And, according to this Conjecture, he will carry Scarlet or Shillings in specie, or part one, part the other, if he be in doubt.
Qu. 7.But will not England be impoverished by Merchants carrying out the said 100 Shillings?
Answ. No, if he brings home for them as much Silk as will yield above 100 Shillings (perhaps 200 Shillings) in Spain, and then bring the same 200 into England: Or, if he bring home as much Pepper as an English man will give him 200 of the like Shillings for. So the Merchant and England shall both Gain by Exporting the 100 Shillings.
Qu. 8.But if the new Shilling were but ¾ths of the weight as formerly, then the Merchant would not meddle with them at all, and so secure this fear of impoverishment?
Answ. The Merchant would Export then, just as before; Only he will give but ¾ so much Pepper, or other Indian Goods, for the new retrenched Shilling as he did for the old: And would accept in India ¾ as much Pepper as he formerly had for the old: And consequently there would be no difference, but among a few such Fools as take Money by its name, and not by its weight and fineness.
Qu. 9.If a Shilling was by new Coinage reduced to ¾ of its present weight, should we not thereby have ? more of Money then now we have, and consequently be so much the richer?
Ans. You would indeed have ? part more of the new christned Shillings; but not an Ounce more of Silver, nor Money; nor could you get an Ounce more of Forreign Commodities for all your new multiplied Money than before: Nor even of any Domestick Commodities; but perhaps a little at first from the few Fools above mentioned. As for Instance; Suppose you buy a Silver Vessel from a Goldsmith weighing 20 Ounces, at 6s. per Ounce, making 6 Pounds or 24 Ounces of Coined Silver; now suppose that the said 6 Pounds were reduced from weighing 24 Ounces to weigh but 18 Ounces upon the new Coinage; but be still called 6 Pound even by the King’s Proclamation; Can it be imagined that the Goldsmith will give his Vessel weighing 20 Ounces of wrought for 18 Ounces of unwrought Silver? For the Workmanship of Money is of little value. Now the Absurdity is the same in all other Commodities, though not so demonstrable as in a Commodity whose Materials are the same with Money.
Qu. 10.Cannot Authority Command that men should give as much Commodity for the new retrencht Money, as for the old which weighed ? part more?
Answ. Then the effect of such Authority would also be to take away ? of all mens Goods, which are Commodities beyond Seas, and give the same to Forreigners, who would have them for ¾ of the usual quantity of Silver: And the same Authority would take away from the Creditor ? of the Money which was due before the Proclamation.
Qu. 11.Whereas you suppose retrenching ¼ in the new Coinage; Suppose it was but , how would the matter be then?
Answ. Just the same: For Magis et minus non mutant speciem: But it were better you supposed that one Shilling were to be taken for 10 or 20, then the Absurdity would be it self so visible, as to need no such Demonstration, as is needful in such small matters as Common Sense cannot discern: For if the wealth of the Nation could be decupled by a Proclamation, it were strange that such Proclamations have not long since been made by our Governours.
Qu. 12.Will not some men, having occasions to buy Commodities in Forreign Parts, carry out all Money, and so not vend or Export our own Commodities at all?
Answ. If some English Merchants should be so improvident, yet the Forreign Merchants would buy up such English Commodities as they wanted, with Money brought into England from their respective Countries, or with such Commodities as England likes better than Money. For the vending of English Commodities doth not depend upon any other thing, but the use and need which Forreigners have of them. But were it not a folly for an English man not to carry Lead into Turkey: but go thither with Money, in his Ballast, and so loose the Freight of the Lead, which he might sell there; And that a Ship should come from Turkey with Money, in her Ballast also, to fetch Lead from England which might have been carried at first by the English Ship? No: The art of a Merchant is to consider all those Matters, so as no Prince’s Proclamation concerning the Weight and Denominations of Coins, signifies any thing to Forreigners when they know it, nor to his own Subjects pro futuro, what e’re Disturbances it may make amongst them pro præterito. We say again: it were better for a Prince owing 20s. to say he will pay but 15s. than disguishing his own particular purpose, to say that all Landlords shall henceforth take 15s. Rent for 20s. due to them by their Tenants Leases; and that he who hath lent a 100l. on the Monday, (the Proclamation of Retrenchment coming out on Tuesday) may be repaid on Wednesday with ¾ or 75l. of the very Money he lent two days before.
Qu. 13.Why is not our old worn unequal Money new Coined and equallized?
Answ. There may be many weak Reasons for it; But the only good one which I know, is, that bad and unequal Money may prevent hoarding, whereas weighty, fine and beautiful Money doth encourage it in some few timorous Persons, but not in the Body of Trading Men. Upon the account of Beauty our Britannia Half-pence were almost all horded as Medals till they grew common; For if but 100 of those pieces had been Coined, they would for their Work and Rarity have been worth above 5s. each, which for their Matter are not worth that Half-penny they pass for: For in them, Materiam superabat Opus.
Qu. 14.Why hath Money been raised, or retrencht, or imbased by many wise States, and so often?
Answ. When any State doth these things, they are like Bankrupt Merchants, who Compound for their Debts by paying 16s. 12s, or 10s. in the pound; Or forcing their Creditors to take off their Goods at much above the Market rates. And the same State might as well have paid but ¾ of what they ow’d, as to retrench their Money in General to ¾ of the known weight and fineness. And these practices have been compassed by Bankers and Cashiers, for oblique Considerations, from the Favourites of such Princes and States.
Qu. 15.It is then the Honour of England that no such Tricks have been practiced, though in the greatest Streights that ever that State hath been in.
Answ. It hath been their Wisdom, and consequently their Honour to keep up a Rule and Measure of Trade amongst themselves, and with all Nations.
Qu. 16.But is there no Case wherein Money may be justly and honourably raised?
Answ. Yes, in order to Regulation and Equalizing of Species of Coins; As when two Species of one Weight and Fineness are taken at different Rates, then the one may be raised or the other depressed: But this must be rated by the Estimation of the whole World as near as it can be known, and not by any private Nation; and the like may be done between Gold and Silver.
Qu. 17.What do you think of the rising or falling of the Price of Lands, from this following Instance, viz. A piece of Land was sold 60 Years ago for 1000l. that is for a 1000 Jacobusses; and the same Land is now sold for 1000l. or 1000 Guineas, and the Guinea is but ? the weight of the Jacobus. Is the Land cheaper now than 60 Years ago?
Answ. It looks like a Demonstration that it is: Yet if Gold be not Money, but a Commodity next like to Money, and that Silver be only Money; then we must see whether 1000 Jacobusses would then purchase no more Silver than 1000 Guineas will do now: For if so, the Land was heretofore and now sold for the same Quantity of Money, though not of Gold; and is neither risen nor fallen by what hath been instanced.
Qu. 18.What is the difference between retrenching or raising of Money, and imbasing the Metal of the same, as by mixing Copper with Silver?
Answ. The first is the better of the two, if such Mixture be of no use in other things: For if 20s. which contains 4 Ounces of Silver, should be reduced to 3 Ounces of Silver, it is better than to add one Ounce of Copper to the same, in order to make 4 seeming Ounces as before: For if you come to want the said 3 Ounces of Silver mixt with Copper, you must lose the Copper, upon the Test, and the Charge of Refining also, which will amount to above 4 per Cent.
Qu. 19.What do you object against small Silver Money; as against Single Pence, Two Pences, &c.?
Answ. That the Coinage of small Pieces would be very chargeable, and the Pieces themselves apt to be lost, and more liable to wearing; for little of our old small Money is now to be seen, and our Groats are worn away to Three half-pence (worth) in Metal.
Qu. 20.What do you say of Money made wholly of base Metal, such as Farthings, &c.?
Answ. That the want of Materials ought to be made up by the fineness of Coinage, to very near the intrinsick Value; or what is gained by the Want of either, to be part of the King’s Revenue.
Qu. 21.Which is best, Copper or Tin, for this purpose?
Answ. Copper: Because it is capable of the most imitable and durable Coinage: though the Copper be Forreign, and Tin a Native Commodity. For suppose Copper and Tin of the same Value in England; yet if 100 Weight of Tin sent to Turkey will fetch home as much Silk as will fetch above 100 of Copper from Sweden, in such case the Difference between Native and Forreign is nothing.
Qu. 22.This Doctrine may extend to a free exportation of Money and Bullion, which is against our Laws: Are our Laws not good?
Answ. Perhaps they are against the Laws of Nature, and also impracticable: For we see that the Countries which abound with Money and all other Commodities, have followed no such Laws: And contrarywise, that the Countries which have forbid these Exportations under the highest Penalties, are very destitute both of Money and Merchandize.
Qu. 23.Is not a Country the poorer for having less Money?
Answ. Not always: For as the most thriving Men keep little or no Money by them, but turn and wind it into various Commodities to their great Profit, so may the whole Nation also; which is but many particular Men united.
Qu. 24.May a Nation, suppose England, have too much Money?
Answ. Yes: As a particular Merchant may have too much Money, I mean coined Money, by him.
Qu. 25.Is there any way to know how much Money is sufficient for any Nation?
Answ. I think it may pretty well be guessed at; viz. I think that so much Money as will pay half a Years Rent for all the Lands of England, and a Quarters Rent of the Houseing, and a Weeks Expence of all the People, and about a Quarter of the Value of all the exported Commodities, is sufficient for that purpose. Now when the States will cause these things to be computed, and the Quantity of their Coins to be known, which the new Coining of their old Money will best do, then it may also be known whether we have too much or too little Money.
Qu. 26.What Remedy is there if we have too little Money?
Answ. We must erect a Bank, which well computed, doth almost double the Effect of our coined Money: And we have in England Materials for a Bank which shall furnish Stock enough to drive the Trade of the whole Commercial World.
Qu. 27.What if we have too much Coin?
Answ. We may melt down the heaviest, and turn it into the Splendor of Plate, in Vessels or Utensils of Gold and Silver; or send it out, as a Commodity, where the same is wanting or desired: or let it out at Interest, where Interest is high.
Qu. 28.What is Interest or Use-Money?
Answ. A Reward for forbearing the use of your own Money for a Term of Time agreed upon, whatsoever need your self may have of it in the mean while.
Qu. 29.What is Exchange?
Answ. Local Interest, or a Reward given for having your Money at such a Place where you most need the use of it.
Qu. 30.What is the Trade of a Banker?
Answ. Buying and selling of Interest and Exchange: Who is honest only upon the Penalty of losing a beneficial Trade, founded upon a good Opinion of the World, which is called Credit.
Qu. 31.You were speaking of base Money and Farthings, which are generally below the intrinsick Value, and therefore ought not to be permitted to increase ad infinitum. Is there any way to know how many were enough?
Answ. I think there is: viz. Allowing about 12d. in Farthings to every Family: So as if there be a Million of Families in England (as I think there be) then about 50,000l. in Farthings would suffice for Change; and if such Farthings were but ?th below the intrinsick Value, the Nation would pay but 10,000l. for this Convenience: But if this way of Families be not Limitation enough, you may help it by considering the smallest Piece of Silver Money current in the Nation; which how much lesser it is, by so much lesser may the Number of Farthings be: The use of Farthings being but to make up Payments in Silver, and to adjust Accompts: To which end of adjusting Accompts let me add, that if your old defective Farthings were cryed down to 5 a Penny, you might keep all Accompts in a way of Decimal Arithmetick, which hath been long desired for the ease and certainty of Accompts.
Qu. 32.What do you think of our Laws for limiting Interest?
Answ. The same as of limiting the Exportation of Money, and there may be as well Laws for limiting Exchange also: For Interest always carrieth with it an Ensurance præmium, which is very causal, besides that of Forbearance: For Instance, in Ireland there was a time when Land (the highest security) was sold for 2 Years Purchase: It was then naturally just to take 20, 30, or 40 per Cent. Interest; whereas there the Law allows but 10. And since that time, Land being risen to 12 Years Purchase, responsible Men will not give above 8. And insolvent Men will offer Cent. per Cent. notwithstanding the Law. Again, suppose a Man hath 100l. of Land worth 20 Years Purchase, and another 100l. in Houses, worth 12 Years Purchase, and an other 100l. in Shipping worth 2 Years Purchase; and another in Horses, worth 6 Months Purchase; Is it not manifest he must have a greater Yearly præmium for lending his House than his Land, his Ship than his House, and his Horse than his Ship? For if his Horse be worth 100l. he cannot hire him out for less than 10s. per diem, whereas the Land will not yield a Groat for the same time; and these Hires are the same with Interest.
Printed by Charles Bill, and the Executrix of Thomas Newcomb, deceas’d; Printers to the Kings most Excellent Majesty. 1695.
To the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of His Majesties Treasury.
May it please your Lordships,
IN Obedience to your Lordships Command, I have endeavoured to inform myself of divers Matters which concern the Gold and Silver Moneys, and of the most Practicable Methods for New Coining the latter, and Supplying, in the mean time, sufficient Coins to pay the Kings Taxes and Revenues, and to carry on the Publick Commerce; and I do humbly represent to your Lordships,
That I have made diligent Search into several Records, Books, and Writings, to see what Acts or Things have been formerly done or practised, which might serve for Precedents, or give any Light for the Re-establishment of the Coins that should now go, and have Course as the Lawful Money of the Kingdom.
It is true (as I find in a Book of great Authority, remaining in the Exchequer, called The Black Book, written by Gervase of Tilbury, in the time of Henry the Second) that there were anciently Falsifiers and Clippers of Money; for when King William the First, for the better pay of his Warriours, caused the Firmes, which till his time, had for the most part been answered in Victuals, to be converted in Pecuniam Numeratam, he directed the whole from every County to be Charged on the Sheriff, to be by him brought into the Exchequer; adding, That the Sheriff should make the Payment, ad Scalam hoc est (as the aforesaid Author expounds it) solveret preter quamlibet numeratam libram sex denarios; and the Money afterwards declining, and becoming worse, it was Ordained, That the Firmes of Manors should not only be paid ad Scalam, but also ad Pensam, which latter was the paying as much Money for a Pound Sterling, as weighed Twelve Ounces Troy; so that Payment of a Pound de Numero imported Twenty Shillings, ad Scalam imported Twenty Shillings Six Pence, and ad Pensam imported so much as weighed Twelve Ounces. And in the time of King Henry the Second, when the Bishop of Salisbury was Treasurer, who considered, that though the Money did Answer Numero et Pondere, it might nevertheless be mixt with Copper or Brass; therefore (Consilio Regis et ut Regiæ simul et Publicæ Provideretur Utilitati) a Constitution was made, called the Trial by Combustion. The whole Progress whereof, as it was practised in the Exchequer in those Days, is exactly set down in the said Book, and differs little or nothing from the present method of Assaying Silver for its Fineness; as plainly appears in that place where the said Gervase treats of the Office of the Miles Argentarius, and that of the Fusor, an Extract whereof is hereunto Annexed.
It appears also that the Crown Rents were many times reserved in Libris Albis or Blanch Firmes; in which case the Payer was holden Dealbare Firmam, that is, His Base Money or Coin worse than Standard was Molten down in the Exchequer, and Reduced to the Fineness of Standard Silver, or (instead thereof) he Paid to the King Twelve Pence to the Pound by way of Addition.
But the most Remarkable Deceipts and Corruptions found in Ancient Records to have been committed upon the Coins of the Kingdom, by Offenders, were in the time of King Edward the First, when there was Imported a sort of Light Money made with a Mitre; another sort of Light Money with Lyons upon it; a Third sort of Copper Blancht, to Resemble the Money of England; a Fourth sort of Light Money Resembling that of King Edward; a Fifth kind that was Plated: And the Crime of Rounding Money (which I take to be the same with Clipping) was then in Fashion, all which was done out of England. And the Merchants to avoid the Search at Dover and Sandwich, concealed the Parcels in Bails of Cloth, and brought them in by other Ports. Les queux choses si elles suissent longent so efforts (says the Book) elles mettere yent la Monye D’englitere a nient: And the Chief Remedies then Applied were,
First, To Cry down all Money that was not of England, Ireland or Scotland:
Secondly, That such as arrived from beyond Seas, should shew the Money they brought with them to the King’s Officers:
Thirdly. And not hide it in Fardels, upon Pain of Forfeiture:
Fourthly, That the Light Money and the Clipt Money might be Bored through without contradiction:
Fifthly, And that the same should be Received and Paid by Weight at a certain Rate; and that the Persons having such Clipt or Light Money, should bring the same to the King’s Changers, who were settled in several great Towns in the Kingdom, to be new Coined. And by what I have read in Libro Rubeo (which is in the upper Exchequer) concerning the Changers (who, as well as the Masters of the Mint, had several Offices Erected in divers Parts of the Kingdom; Namely, at London, Canterbury, Bristol, Kingston upon Hull, Newcastle and Exeter) a Principal Business of these Changers was to Buy in the Silver of the Bad Money; que les Pollards et Crockards et les autres Mauvaises Moneis Contrefaits Soront, abatues: And there was a Writ then directed to the Sheriffs, to Prohibit the Importation of Clipt or Counterfeit Moneys, and the Use thereof in Merchandizing or Negotiating, under severe Penalties, and Commanding those that had such Money to Bore it through, and to bring it to the King’s Change to be new Coined.
And I find by an Indenture in the Third Year of Queen Elizabeth (at which time there was Base Moneys that had been Coined by Publick Authority) That it was Ordained that Fleetwood, Under Treasurer for the Upper Houses of the Mint in the Tower, should take in by Number and Tale, the Base Moneys therein mentioned, at such Rates or Values as were Appointed by a Proclamation in that behalf; giving Bills to the Parties under his Hand for the Receipt thereof. And the Officers of the Mint were to Melt down and Repay the same in Sterling Moneys, to the Parties or their Deputies, shewing and delivering their Bills, having regard to the time when every Man brought in his Money. And the Base Money Received, and the Sterling Money Repaid where to be Entred in Two Legers; one to be kept by the said Under-Treasurer, and the other by the Tellers. And the Comptroller and Assay-Master were to keep several Books of Refining and Melting the Base Money, to the intent they might be Vouchers to the said Under-Treasurer, who was to Account to the Queen for the whole.
These or such like Provisions might serve well enough in those Times, when there was not much Money, and but little Trade or Occasion for it, and when the Species then in being, which one would think consisted Anciently of Pence or Pieces of small Denomination, were not Corrupted or Diminished to that degree as they are at this day.
But considering the present low Condition to which our Moneys are almost generally Reduced, and the necessary Use thereof in daily Occasions, and particularly in the ways of Trade, upon which this Nation depends more at this time than it did formerly; I do not see how the Prudence of our Ancestors (which in many Constitutions relating to the Exchequer and the Mint, appears to have been Transcendent and Admirable, especially in Matters of Charge and Discharge, and preventing Frauds and Abuses upon the Crown) can, without the devising new or additional Means and Methods, be made Applicable to a present Work of new Coining the Silver Moneys, and Supplying Current Coins for the Commerce, and for the Payment of Taxes and Revenues in the mean time.
If therefore the King (to whose Regality the Power of Coining Money, and Determining the Weight, Fineness, Denomination and Extrinsick Value thereof doth Solely and Inherently Appertain) shall Judge it necessary to have the old or present Species of Silver Coins, or so much thereof as hath been Clipt or otherwise Diminished, to be Melted down and Recoined, I humbly conceive new Means and Methods for doing the same must be Devised. And in Regard Money (which some Lawyers have called Firmamentum Belli et Ornamentum Pacis) is most certainly of the greatest Importance to His Majesty, in supplying the Taxes, Revenues and Loans, for Carrying on the War, and Supporting His Royal Estate; as also to His Subjects, with relation not only to their Trade and Commerce, but also to all other ordinary Means of Livelihood: The said Means and Methods for Re-establishing the Coins, and the many weighty things depending thereupon, ought to be well Excogitated, and to be Considered and Adjusted by Persons of the greatest Judgment and Sagacity; and (if I had not been Enjoyned by your Lordships) I should scarce have Adventured upon a Subject so very Difficult and Curious.
I have Imployed my thoughts chiefly upon such Matters as are Reduceable to the following Heads, viz.
First, Concerning the Standard of the Gold and Silver Coins, and the Establishment of a Just and Reasonable Foot for the Course of the same.
Second, Concerning the Present State and Condition of the Gold and Silver Coins.
Third, Whether it be or be not Absolutely necessary at this Time to Re-establish the same.
Fourth, The Proposing of Means that must be Obtained, and the Proper Methods to be used in and for the Amendment of the Silver Monies.
Fifth, To Consider what must Supply the Commerce, Pay Taxes, &c., Whilst the Clipt Money is under its New Fabrication.
As to the Particulars.
First, Of the Standard.
This properly brings under Consideration Two matters relating to the Coins; namely, the Degree of Fineness, and the Weight of the Pieces. In treating upon which I shall humbly take leave to observe this Method.
First, To explain what is meant by Sterling Moneys.
Secondly, To set down Historically the Proportions of Fine Gold, and Fine Silver, with the respective Allays, which the Masters or Workers of the Mints have been holden to Observe in the Fabrication of the Moneys of this Realm, by their respective Indentures which I have found out, Beginning with those in the time of King Edward the Third, (the farthest Extant) and Ending with the Indenture of the Mint now in being.
Thirdly, To propose the Standard of Fineness, which (in my humble Opinion) ought to be continued for the new Coins, which His Majesty may be pleased to direct at this time, with my Reasons for the same, to be deduced from the Experience of former times, and an Impartial regard to present Circumstances.
Fourthly, To set forth how the Value of the Gold and Silver in our English Coins hath been Raised from time to time, which considers the Weight and Number of Pieces in a Pound Troy.
Fifthly, To offer my humble Opinion upon that Subject, in reference as well to the Old Coins now in being and Unclipt, as also to the New Moneys, which may be directed to be made, as aforesaid, together with my Reasons for the same, to be also Grounded upon the Experience of former Times, and a due Consideration of present Circumstances: All or most of which Points being of great Moment, to be well weighed in this Affair, I do humbly pray your Lordships that I may Discuss them severally.
First, It is believed by some Authors, (and not without Reason) that in the most Ancient times, when Money was first Coined within this Island, it was made of * Pure Gold and Silver, like the Moneys now Currant in some other Nations, particularly in Hungary and Barbary, where they have Pieces of Gold called Ducats and Sultanesses; and in the Kingdom of Industan, where they have Pieces of Silver called Rupees, which I have seen, and wherein (as I am inform’d) there is little or no Allay: And that afterwards it being found convenient in the Fabrication of the Moneys, to have a certain Quantity or Proportion of Baser Metal to be mixt with the Pure Gold and Silver, the Word Sterling was introduced, and hath ever since been used, to denote the certain Proportion or Degree of Fineness, which ought to be retained in the respective Coins composed of such mixture, as aforesaid. There are some Authors that fancy this Word Sterling took its Name from a Castle in Scotland, as if it were first Coined there. Some have derived it from a Star or Astracism, which they imagine to have been Impressed thereupon. There are those that fetch it from the Name of an Ancient Indenture or Bond which was taken by the Jews (those old Userers) for Security of their debts, and which was called the Jews Star. But others think it comes from the Name of a People called Easterlings, as the first Workers of it in England. Of which latter Opinion is the Author of a very old Treatise concerning Money, Entred at large in the Red Book abovesaid, in the time of King Edward the Third. For my own Part, I do not believe the Word Sterling (denoting the degree of Fineness or Goodness, as aforesaid) was known in the time of the Conqueror, in regard there is no mention thereof in Libro Judiciario or the Dooms-day Book, which Valueth every Manor (as it was worth in the times of the Confessor and Conqueror respectively) in Money ad Numerum, or ad Pensam or ad Pondus, but not in Sterling Money; and yet the Denomination of Sterling was soon after introduced, because the Statute of the Twenty-fifth of Edward the Third refers to Ancient Sterling, and so do the Old Indentures of the Mint, and the Ancient Entries concerning Money. By reading of which it seems evident to me,
First, That a Sterling or Easterling, in a restrained Sence, signified nothing but a Silver Peny, which at first was about three times as heavy as a Peny is now, and was once called a Lundress, because it was to be Coined only at London, and not at the Countrey Mints.
Secondly, That the Words Sterling and Standard are Synonimous Terms.
Thirdly, That the Ancient Sterling of England, mentioned in the said Statute, and the Standard and Allay of Old Easterling, mentioned in the Indenture, Le 20 jour de May l’an du Regne Edward III. cestassavoir d’ Engletere quarant sisme et de France trent tierce entre le Roy et Bardet de Malepilys de Florence; and the Old right Standard of England, which I find in other Indentures of the Mint, are to be understood thus: A Pound Weight Troy of Gold was divided into Twenty four Carats, and every Carat into Four Grains of Gold; and a Pound Weight of the Old Sterling, or Right Standard Gold of England, consisted of Twenty three Carats and Three Grains and an half of Fine Gold, and half a Grain of Allay. Which Allay (as the Red Book says) might be Silver or Copper. Again, a Pound Weight Troy of Silver, was then (as it has been ever since) divided into Twelve Ounces, every Ounce into Twenty Peny Weight, and every Peny Weight into Twenty four Grains; every Grain of Silver was called a Subtile Grain, Sixty of which were equal to One Grain of Gold, and a Pound Weight of Old Sterling, or Right Standard Silver of England, consisted then, (as it does now) of Eleven Ounces and Two Peny Weight of Fine Silver, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay.
Fourthly, That Sterling Money generally in Judgment of Law, upon the Fines, Covenants, and other Instruments that have had occasion to refer thereunto, hath always imported, and doth still import only such Coins of Gold or Silver, as have been made by successive Masters and Workers of the Mint, in certain Proportions of Fine Metal, mixt with Allays, according to their respective Indentures or Covenants with the Crown, from time to time, and made Currant by the same Indentures, or by Proclamations or Commands of the Sovereign: Which Proportions of Fineness and Allay, have differed from time to time. And (having thus Expounded what is meant by Sterling and Old Sterling) those Differences will come properly to be Considered.
Second, In the next Place therefore, I am to set down Historically the Proportions of Fine Gold and Fine Silver, with the respective Allays, which the Masters or Workers of the Mint have been holden to observe in the Fabrication of the Moneys, by their respective Indentures: Of which there is one mentioned in the Red Book, to bear Date in the Eighteenth Year of King Edward the First, who sent for Workmen from beyond Sea, to inform him of the manner of Making and Forging of Money; but not finding any Indenture by which one can judge certainly of the said Proportions, till the Reign of Edward the Third; from whose time the several Indentures of the Mint, or most of them, are in the Receipt of the Exchequer, in Custody of your Lordships and the Chamberlains there, and where I have had the Opportunity carefully to Inspect and Examine the same. I shall therefore humbly take leave to begin with these, and Proceed in the Order following.
The Standard for the Gold Coins was the Old Standard, or Sterling of Twenty three Carats, Three Grains and Half Fine, and Half a Grain Allay. And the Standard for the Silver Coins was the Old Sterling of Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay.
1 H. 8.Ralph Rowlett and Martin Bowes, Masters and Workers, Covenanted to make Two sorts of Gold Coins; to wit, Sovereigns, Rialls, Angels, George-Nobles, and Half-Angels of the said Old Standard, and Crowns of the Double Rose, and Half-Crowns to be Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and Silver Moneys, to wit, Groats, Half-Groats, Sterlings, Half-pence and Farthings of the Old Sterling.
23.Another Indenture to the same Effect.
34.The said Ralph Rowlett and Martin Bowes, Masters and Workers, Covenanted to make the Sovereigns, Half-Sovereigns, Angels, Angellets, and Quarter-Angels of Twenty three Carats Fine Gold, and One Carat Allay; And Silver Money, to wit, Testoons to go for Twelve Pence; and Groats, Half-Groats, Pence, Half-Pence, and Farthings, to be Ten Ounces Fine, and Two Ounces Allay.
36.The King was to have out of every Twelve Ounces of Fine Gold Coined Two Carats, which yielded Fifty Shillings: And the Silver to be Coined after the Rate of Six Ounces Fine and Six Ounces Allay; which was a wretched Debasement.
37 H. 8.The Gold Coins, called Sovereigns, Half-Sovereigns, Crowns and Half-Crowns, were to be only Twenty Carats Fine, and Four Carats Allay; and the Silver Coins, to wit, Testoons, Groats, Half-Groats, Pence, Half-Pence and Farthings to be Four Ounces Fine, and Eight Ounces Allay, which was worse.
1 E. 6.The same with the last Preceding.
3.A Commission to make Sovereigns, Half-Sovereigns, Crowns and Half-Crowns of Gold at Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay: And Shillings of Silver of Six Ounces Fine and Six Ounces Allay.
4.Another to make Sovereigns, Half-Sovereigns, Crowns and Half-Crowns of Gold of the Old Standard; Namely, Twenty three Carats Three Grains and an Half Fine, and Half a Grain Allay.
5.Another to make Shillings of Silver, Three Ounces Fine, and Nine Ounces Allay.
6.To Coin Sovereigns, Angels and Half-Angels of the Old Standard, to wit, Twenty three Carats Three Grains and Half Fine, and another sort of Gold to be Twenty two Carats Fine and Two Carats Allay.
6 E. 6.To Coin Silver Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, Six Pences, Three Pences, Pence, Half-Pence and Farthings, Eleven Ounces One Penny Weight Fine, and Nineteen Penny Weight Allay.
1 Mar.To Coin Gold Twenty three Carats, Three Grains and an Half Fine: and Silver Eleven Ounces Fine.
Phil & Mar.The Old Standard for Gold and Silver.
2 Eliz.To Coin one sort of Gold of the Old Standard, and another sort to be only Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and Silver Moneys of the Old Standard.
3 Eliz.Two Mints were in the Tower, whereof One to convert the Base Money into Sterling, which continued about a Year.Vide Cotton Speech to Cha. I. Ann 1626.And here it may not be improper to Note, that not long after, the Queen in a Publick Edict, told her People, That she had Conquered the Monster which had so long devoured them; meaning the Debasing of the Standard.
The Old Standard perfectly restored both for Gold and Silver Coins.19 Eliz.
The same continued.25.
The same for Gold.26.
A Commission to make Sovereigns, Half-Sovereigns,35. Crowns and Half-Crowns of Gold to be Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay.
To make Angel-Gold Twenty three Carats Three Grains and half Fine,43. the Old Standard; and to make Sovereigns, &c. Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and to make Crowns, Shillings, &c. of Silver Eleven Ounces and Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay, the Old Standard.
To Coin the Unites, Double Crowns, British Crowns,2 Jac. I. &c. of Gold to be Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, and the Old Standard for Silver continued.
To Coin Rose-Rialls,3 Jac. I. Spur Rialls, and Angels of the Old Standard of Twenty three Carats Three Grains and an half Fine.
To Coin Rialls of the same Standard, and Unites,10. &c. Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay.
To Coin Rialls and Angels of the Old Standard of Twenty three Carats Three Grains and an half Fine,2 Car. I. and half a Grain Allay: and to Coin Unites and Crowns Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and to Coin the Silver Moneys of the Old Standard of Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay.
To Coin Rialls and Angels of the Old Standard of12 Ca. 2. Twenty three Carats, Three Grains and an half Fine, and half a Grain Allay; and to Coin Unites and Crowns Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and Silver Moneys of the Old Standard of Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay.
Ca. 2.To Coin the Pieces (since called Guineas) running for Twenty Shillings, Half-Guineas, &c. Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and Silver Moneys of the Old Standard.
ac. 2.To Coin Ten Shilling Pieces, Twenty Shilling Pieces, Fourty Shilling Pieces, and Five Pound Pieces, of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; and Silver Moneys of the Old Standard of Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay.
V. & M.The same Standard for Gold and Silver.
Upon duly considering this History or Relation for so many years past, it may not be improper to Observe to your Lordships thereupon,
First, That above Four hundred Years ago, the Standard for the Silver Coins was Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay. And so it is at this day by the present Indenture of the Mint, and the same is that which was called the Old Sterling, or Easterling.
Secondly, That the Standard for the Gold Coins Four hundred Years ago, was Twenty three Carats Three Grains and an half Fine, and half a Grain Allay. And at this day the Standard of Gold by the Indenture of the Mint is Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay; the difference of which is only One Carat Three Grains and an half.
Thirdly, That the Old Standard obtained for the most part of the said Number of Years, and the chief Deviations from the same were in the Reigns of Henry the Eighth, and Edward the Sixth.
The which being premised, the Third thing coming under Consideration concerning such new Coins as His Majesty shall think fit to Direct, is my own poor Opinion, which I humbly offer, and (as I conceive) with some clearness, That the present Standard of Fineness or Purity ought to be continued, namely, of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay for the Gold; and Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay for the Silver, in all the New Coins that shall be now directed. And my Reasons for the same are as follows,
First, Because our Ancestors (whose wisdom we have no cause to distrust) have for many Ages endeavoured to keep up the Old Sterling, or to a Standard very near it; which obtained (as evidently appears by the foregoing Narrative) for the greatest part of Four hundred years.
Secondly, Although the former Debasements of the Coins by Publick Authority, especially those in the Reigns of King Henry the Eighth, and King Edward the Sixth, might be projected for the Profit of the Crown; and the Projectors might measure that Profit by the excessive Quantities of Allay that were mixt with the Silver or the Gold: And although this was Enterprized by a Prince who could stretch his Prerogative very far upon his People; and was done in Times when this Nation had very little Commerce, Inland or Foreign, to be injured or prejudiced thereby: Yet Experience presently shewed that the Projectors were mistaken, and that it was absolutely necessary to have the base Moneys reformed; the doing whereof was begun by King Edward the Sixth himself, carried on by King Philip and Queen Mary, and happily finished (though not without great Charge, Vexation and Trouble, the only Offspring of such Designs) by Queen Elizabeth, who (as is noted above) in the Third Year of her Reign, when Money was not plentiful, Erected a Distinct Mint in the Tower, to convert the Base (not Counterfeit Money) into Sterling.
Thirdly, Because making of Base Moneys will Disgrace this Government in future Generations, the Criticks in every Age being apt to Estimate the Goodness or Badness of Ancient Governments by their Coin, as hath been done, especially in the Case of the Romans; and a Temptation of this kind ought not to be left for future Ages, to the prejudice of the Honour of the present King.
Fourthly, Although it must be acknowledged, That the putting a greater Allay into the Coins, so long as they should still retain so much Purity or Fineness as would render them answerable to the Currant Price of Silver in Bullion, would be no real Injury to the Subject: Yet it must be considered, that when the Causes which at present make Silver Scarce and Dear shall cease, Silver it self will fall in its Price. And if in the mean time the Coins shall have been Debased, then after the Retrieving of the Trade and Wealth of the Nation, and the Bringing down of the Price of Silver thereby, the Damage which the Crown will sustain in its Taxes, Revenues, and Loans, and the Loss which the Nobility, Gentry and Commonalty (especially Ecclesiastical Persons) will find thereby, in the payment of their Debts, Rents and Annuities (many of which are so Fixt and Establisht upon previous Reservations or Grants in Fee, or in Tail, or for Lives, or Years certain, or are so payable by Assurances, already perfected, as that it will not be in their powers to alter the same proportionably to the Debasement of the Coin, and the loss or damage, after such Bringing down the Price of Silver, will be proportionable to the excessive Allay to be put into the Money) will continue and have duration at least till all such Base Money can be abated: The meer Reforming of which would take up a considerable time, and be a new trouble and difficulty after the Ending of the present War, and after the Re-establishment of the Trade and Wealth of the Kingdom.
Fifthly, Our present Standard is well known in the World, the same agreeing with most of the Foreign Mints in Europe, and all Foreigners that deal with us, regard the Intrinsick Value more than the Extrinsick Denomination, and Exchange with us accordingly. If Base Mouey should be made, the Intrinsick Value thereof would be uncertain, or might be disputed; and in Disputes of such a Nature, it is more likely that they will gain upon us, than we upon them, and so the Exchange become more to our prejudice than it is at present.
Sixthly, The Debasing of Money by Publick Authority is needless and frivolous; for whatsoever Advantages (grounded upon necessity) can be propos’d thereby, will arise more easily, and have better Precedents in Raising the Value of the Standard; which is the next Subject to be Discussed: Not doubting but that your Lordships by these, and other Reasons which might be given (if they were not too tedious) will be fully convinc’d, That the present Standard of Fineness is to be continued.
The Fourth thing which I have undertaken, in respect of the Standard, is to set forth how the Value of the Gold and Silver in the English Coins hath been Rais’d from time to time, which considers the Weight and Number of the Pieces in the Pound Troy. And because (in case of new making Silver Moneys) the Adjusting and Establishing the Extrinsick Value or Denomination thereof, at which the same must have Course, is of the greatest Moment and Consideration in this Affair, both to the King and all his People; I could not spare my self the trouble of making the following Deduction from the Indentures of the Mint; which being duly meditated upon, will give a good deal of Light and Precedent for the Rates, to which the Value of Gold and Silver in our Coins are to be Raised and Established at this time.
28 E. I.An Indented Tryal-piece 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 Three Pence, according to which, the Value of the Silver in the Coin, was One Shilling Eight Pence Farthing an Ounce.
Memorandum, I find no farther Indentures concerning this Matter from Edward the First, till Edward the Third.
18 E. 3Every Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard abovementioned, namely, Twenty three Carats, Three Grains and a Half Fine, and Half a Grain Allay, was to be Coin’d into Fifty Florences, to be Currant at Six Shillings apiece; all which made in Tale Fifteen Pounds, or into a proportionable Number of Half-Florences, or Quarter-Florences: This was by Indenture between the King and Walter de Dunflower, Master and Worker.
Eod. an.A Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard abovementioned, was to contain Thirty nine Nobles and an Half, at Six Shillings Eight Pence apiece, amounting in the whole to Thirteen Pounds Three Shillings and Four Pence in Tale, or a proportionable Number of Half-Nobles and Quarter-Nobles: Which was by an Indenture between the King and Percivall de Perche.
Memorandum, By this Indenture the Tryal of the Pix was Established.
20 E. 3.A Pound Weight of Gold of the said Old Standard, was to make by Tale Fourty Two Nobles at Six Shillings Eight Pence apiece, amounting to Fourteen Pounds, or a proportionable Number of Half-Nobles, and Quarter-Nobles: And a Pound Weight of the Old Sterling Silver was to make Twenty-two Shillings Six Pence: And Percival de Perche was Master.
23.The like when John Donative, of the Castle of Florence, and Philip John Denier were Masters and Workers.
Memorandum, By this Indenture were also Coined Half-pence and Farthings of Silver.
27.A Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard was to make by Tale Fourty five Nobles, amounting to Fifteen Pounds, or a proportionable Number of Half or Quarter Nobles: And a Pound Weight of Silver of the Old Sterling to make by Tale Seventy five Grosses (i. e. Groats) amounting to Twenty five Shillings, or One hundred and fifty Half-Grosses, going for Two Pence apiece, or Three hundred Sterlings going for Pence apiece: And Henry Brissell was Master and Worker.
30 E. 3.The like, only adding Half Sterlings, of which Six hundred in a Pound Troy.
46.The like: And Bardet de Malepilys was Master and Worker.
18 R. 2.The like: And Nicholas Malakin, a Florentine, was Master and Worker.
3 H. 4.The like: And here Half-pence are called Mailes.
9 H. 5.A Pound Weight of Gold of the said Old Standard was to make by Tale Fifty Nobles, or One hundred Half Nobles, or Two hundred Quarter Nobles, amounting to Sixteen Pounds, Thirteen Shillings, and Four Pence in Tale. And a Pound Weight of Silver of the said Old Standard, was to make by Tale Ninety Grosses or Groats, or One hundred and eighty Half-Groz, or Three hundred and Sixty Sterlings, or Seven hundred and twenty Mailes, or One thousand four hundred and fourty Farthings, amounting to Thirty Shillings: And Bartholomew Goldbeater was Master and Worker.
1 H. 6.A Pound Weight of Gold of the said Old Standard was Coin’d into Fourty five Rialls, going for Ten Shillings apiece, or a proportionable Number of Half-Rialls, going for Five Shillings apiece, or Riall-Farthings, going for Two Shillings and Sixpence apiece, or into Sixty Seven Angels and an Half, going for Six Shillings and Eight Pence apiece, or a proportionable Number of Angelets going for Three Shillings and Four Pence apiece: And consequently the Pound Troy of Gold was Coined into Twenty two Pounds Ten Shillings by Tale, and a Pound Weight of Silver of the Old Sterling was Coined into One hundred and twelve Groats and an half, making in Tale Thirty seven Shillings and Six Pence, or a proportionable Number of Half-Groz, Sterlings or Pence, Half-pence or Farthings: And here Sir Giles Dawbeny was Master and Worker.
4 H. 6.Is the same with that of the Ninth of Henry the Fifth, lowering the Gold to Sixteen Pounds Thirteen Shillings and Four Pence, and the Silver Moneys to Thirty Shillings: and Robert Mansfeild was Master and Worker.
Note, Here the Value of the Silver as well as the Gold in the Coins was brought down again.
24.A Pound Weight of Gold of the said Old Standard was to make by Tale Sixty seven Angels and an Half at Six Shillings Eight Pence apiece, amounting to Twenty two Pounds Ten Shillings, and a Pound Weight of Silver of the said Old Sterling was to make by Tale One hundred and twelve Groats and an Half, amounting to Thirty seven Shillings and Six Pence, or proportionably in the lesser Coins: And Sir Richard Constable was Master and Worker.
A Pound Weight of Gold of the said Old Standard was to make by Tale Twenty Pounds Sixteen Shillings and Eight Pence,4 E. 4. and a Pound Weight of Silver, Old Sterling, was to make Thirty seven Shillings and Six Pence, as in the last Article: And William Lord Hastings was Master and Worker.
A Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard was to make Fourty five Nobles going for Ten Shillings apiece,5. or Ninety Half Nobles, or One hundred and Eighty Quarter Nobles, or Sixty seven and an Half of the Pieces impress’d with Angels going for Six Shillings Eight Pence each, and consequently was Coined into Twenty two Pounds Ten Shillings by Tale, and the Silver Moneys were shorn at Thirty seven Shillings and Six Pence the Pound Weight Troy. This Indenture was between the King and the Lord Hastings His Chamberlain, and Master and Worker and Warden of all his Exchanges and Outchanges in England and Calis.
The like.8 E. 4.
The like:22. But Bartholomew Read was Master and Worker.
The like:1 R. 3. And Robert Brackenbury was Master and Worker.
The like:H. 7. And Robert Fenrother and William Read were Masters and Workers.
* 1 H. 8. A Pound Weight of such Gold to be Coined into Twenty seven Pounds by Tale; to wit, into Twenty four Sovereigns, at Twenty two Shillings and Six Pence apiece, or Fourty eight Rialls at Eleven Shillings and Three Pence apiece, or Seventy two Angels at Seven Shillings and Six Pence apiece, or Eighty one George-Nobles at Six Shillings and Eight Pence apiece, or One hundred fourty and four Half Angels at Three Shillings and Nine Pence apiece, or One hundred sixty and two Fourty-peny Pieces, at Three Shillings and Four Pence apiece; and a Pound Weight of Gold of the Fineness of Twenty two Carats only, was to be Coined into One hundred Crowns and an Half of the Double Rose, or Two hundred and one Half-Crowns, making by Tale Twenty five Pounds two Shillings and Six Pence; and a Pound Weight of Silver of the Old Sterling, was Coined into One hundred and thirty five Groats, or Two hundred and seventy Half-Groats, or Five hundred and fourty Sterlings (i.e. Pence) or One thousand and eighty Half-pence, or Two thousand one hundred and sixty Farthings; and so every Pound Weight of Sterling Silver was Coined into Fourty five Shillings by Tale: And Ralph Rowlett and Martin Bowes were Masters and Workers.
23 H. 8.The like.
34 H. 8.A Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty three Carats Fine, and One Carat Allay, was Coined into Twenty eight Pounds Sixteen Shillings by Tale (by which Indenture there were Coined Sovereigns at Twenty Shillings apiece, Half-Sovereigns at Ten Shillings, Angels at Eight Shillings, Angelets at Four Shillings, and Quarter Angelets at Two Shillings apiece) and a Pound Weight of Silver of Ten Ounces Fine, and Two Ounces Allay, was Coined into Fourty eight Shillings by Tale, Namely, into Testoons (going for Twelve Pence apiece) Groats, Half-Groats, Pence, Half-Pence and Farthings.
A Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine,36 H. 8. and Two Carats Allay, was Coined into Thirty Pounds by Tale; to wit, into Thirty Sovereigns at Twenty Shillings apiece, or Sixty Half-Sovereigns at Ten Shillings apiece; or One hundred and twenty Crowns at Five Shillings apiece, or Two hundred and fourty Half-Crowns: And the King had Two Carats of Fine Gold for Coinage, which yielded him Fifty Shillings. And Silver was Coined by the same Indenture of Six Ounces Fine, and Six Ounces Allay, into Fourty eight Shillings by Tale. This Silver was to be Coined into Testoons, Groats, Half-Groats, Pence, Half-Pence, and Farthings; and the Indenture was between the King and Sir Martin Bowes, and others.
A Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty Carats Fine,37 H. 8. and Four Carats Allay, was Coined into Thirty Pounds by Tale, as in the last; and the King had Four Carats, which yielded him Five Pounds Two Shillings: And a Pound Weight of Silver of Four Ounces Fine, and Eight Ounces Allay was Coined into Fourty eight Shillings by Tale, which raised the Pound Weight of Fine Gold to Thirty six Pounds; and the Pound Weight of Fine Silver to Seven Pounds Four Shillings.
A Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty Carats Fine,1 E. 6. and Four Carats Allay, was Coined into Thirty Pounds by Tale, out of which the King had a great Profit; and a Pound of Silver of Four Ounces Fine, and Eight Ounces Allay, was Coined into Fourty eight Shillings; after which Rate every Pound of Fine Silver made in Currant Money Seven Pounds Four Shillings, and the King’s Profit on every Pound Weight was Four Pounds Four Shillings: John York and others were Masters and Workers of the Mint in Southwark.
Eod. an.Another Indenture to the same Effect with William Tilsworth at Canterbury.
Eod. an.Another Indenture to the same Effect with Sir Martin Bowes for the Tower.
2. E. 6.Another Indenture to the same Effect with George Gale for the Mint at York.
Eod. an.Another Indenture to the same Effect with John York for Southwark, differing only in the Charge of Coinage.
Eod. an.Another Indenture to the same Effect with William Tilsworth, differing only in the Charge of Coinage.
3 E. 6.A Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, was to be coined into Thirty four Pounds by Tale, into Sovereigns at Twenty Shillings apiece, Half-Sovereigns at Ten Shillings apiece, Crowns at Five Shillings, and Half-Crowns at Two Shillings Six Pence apiece: And a Pound Weight of Silver of Six Ounces Fine, and Six Ounces Allay, was to be Coined into Seventy two Shillings; which Shillings were to go for Twelve Pence apiece 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.
4 E. 6.A Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard, of Twenty three Carats, and Three Grains and a Half Fine, was Coin’d into Twenty eight Pounds Sixteen Shillings by Tale, to wit, into Sovereigns at Twenty four Shillings a piece, Half-Sovereigns at Twelve Shillings a piece, Angels at Eight Shillings apiece, and Half-Angels at Four Shillings apiece, by a Commission to Sir Edmund Peckham and others.
A Pound Weight of Silver of Three Ounces Fine,5 E. 6. and Nine Ounces Allay, was Coined into Seventy two Shillings at Twelve Pence apiece; And the Merchant Received for every Ounce of Fine Silver which he should bring to the Mint, Ten Shillings of such Money, by which means Twelve Ounces of Fine Silver was exorbitantly Raised to Fourteen Pounds eight Shillings, by a Commission to Sir Edmund Peckham and others.
A Pound Weight of Gold,6 E. 6. of the Old Standard aforesaid, was Coined into Thirty six Pounds by Tale, to wit, Twenty four Sovereigns at Thirty Shillings apiece, Seventy two Angels at Ten Shillings apiece, or One hundred fourty four Half-Angels: And a Pound Weight of Crown Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, was Coined into Thirty three Pounds by Tale, viz. Thirty three Sovereigns at Twenty Shillings apiece, or Sixty six Half-Sovereigns at Ten Shillings apiece, or One hundred thirty two Crowns, or Two hundred sixty four Half-Crowns: And a Pound Weight of Silver, consisting of Eleven Ounces, One Penny Weight Fine, and Nineteen Peny Weight Allay, was Coined into Three Pounds by Tale, viz. Twelve Crowns, or Twenty four Half-Crowns, or Sixty Shillings, or One hundred twenty Six-pences, or Two hundred fourty Three-pences, or Seven hundred twenty Pence, or One thousand four hundred and fourty Half-Pence, or Two thousand eight hundred and eighty Farthings.
A Pound Weight of Gold,1 M. of the Old Standard, was Coined into Thirty six Pounds; and a Pound Weight of Silver Eleven Ounces Fine, was Coined into Three Pounds by Tale: And Thomas Egerton was Master and Worker.
A Pound Weight of Gold,2 Eliz. of the Old Standard, of Twenty three Carats three Grains and an Half Fine, was Coined into Thirty six Pounds by Tale; to wit, into Twenty four Sovereigns at Thirty Shillings apiece, or Forty eight Rialls at Fifteen Shillings apiece, or Seventy two Angels at Ten Shillings apiece, or One hundred fourty and four Half-Angels at Five Shillings apiece: And a Pound Weight of Crown Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, was Coined into Thirty three Pounds by Tale (to wit, Thirty three Sovereigns at Twenty Shillings apiece, or Sixty six Half-Sovereigns at Ten Shillings apiece, or One hundred thirty two Crowns at Five Shillings apiece, or Two hundred sixty four Half-Crowns). And a Pound Weight of the Old Sterling Silver, to wit, Eleven Ounces Two Peny Weight Fine, and Eighteen Peny Weight Allay, was Coined into Three Pounds by Tale, of Half-Shillings, Groats, Quarter-Shillings, Half-Groats, Three-half-peny Pieces, Pence and Farthings, by Indenture between the Queen, Sir Thomas Standly and others.
19 Eliz.John Lonison, Master and Worker, Covenanted to Coin a Pound of Gold of the Old Standard into Seventy two Angels at Ten Shillings apiece, One hundred fourty four Half-Angels at Five Shillings apiece, or Two hundred eighty eight Quarter-Angels, amounting in Tale to Thirty six Pounds; and a Pound Weight of Old Sterling Silver into Half-Shillings, Three-pences, Three-half-peny Pieces, or Three-farthing Pieces, to make Three Pounds by Tale.
25 Eliz.Richard Martin Covenanted to Coin Gold, as in the last; and a Pound of Silver into Sixty Shillings, or into Three Pounds by Tale, in any of the Denominations mentioned in the last Indenture.
26.A Commission to him to Coin the Pound Troy of Old Standard Gold into Fourty eight Nobles at Fifteen Shillings apiece, or Twenty four Double Nobles at Thirty Shillings apiece, making Thirty six Pounds.
35.The same to Coin the Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay into Thirty three Sovereigns, at Twenty Shillings apiece, or Sixty six Half-Sovereigns, or One hundred thirty two Crowns, or Two hundred sixty four Half-Crowns, making Thirty three Pounds by Tale.
The same to Coin the Pound Weight of Old Standard Gold into Seventy three Angels at Ten Shillings apiece,43 Eliz. or One hundred fourty and six Half-Angels, or Two hundred ninety two Quarter Angels, making Thirty six Pounds Ten Shillings in Tale; and the Pound Weight of Gold, of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, into Thirty three Sovereigns and an Half, at Twenty Shillings apiece, or Sixty seven Half-Sovereigns, or One hundred thirty four Crowns, or Two hundred sixty eight Half-Crowns, making Thirty three Pounds Ten Shillings in Tale; and the Pound Weight of Old Standard Silver into Three Pounds two Shillings by Tale; Namely, into Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, Six-pences, Two-pences, Pence and Half-pence.
Sir Richard Martyn Knight, and Richard Martyn his Son,2 Jac. 1. Masters and Workers, Covenanted to Coin a Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, into Thirty seven Pounds four Shillings by Tale, viz., into Unites going for Twenty Shillings, Double-Crowns at Ten Shillings, Britain-Crowns at Five Shillings, Thistle-Crowns at Four Shillings, and Half-Crowns at Two Shillings Six-pence apiece; And a Pound Weight of Silver of the said Old Standard, into Sixty two Shillings by Tale; Namely, into Shillings, Six-pences, Two-pences, Pence, Half-pence, Crowns and Half-Crowns.
A Pound Weight of Gold of the Old Standard of Twenty three Carats,3 Jac. 1. Three Grains and an Half Fine, was Coined into Fourty Pound Ten Shillings by Tale; to wit, into Rose-Rialls at Thirty Shillings apiece, Spur-Rialls at Fifteen Shillings, and Angels at Ten Shillings apiece.
9 Jac. 1.There was a Proclamation for Raising Gold Two Shillings in every Twenty Shillings.
10.A Pound Weight of the Old Standard Gold was to be Coined into Fourty four Pounds by Tale; to wit, Rose-Rialls, Spur-Rialls, and Angels; and a Pound Weight of Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, was Coined into Fourty Pounds Eighteen Shillings and Four Pence; to wit, into Unites at Twenty two Shillings, Double-Crowns at Eleven Shillings, British-Crowns at Five Shillings and Six-pence, Thistle-Crowns at Four Shillings and Four Pence Three Farthings, or Half-British Crowns at Two Shillings and Nine Pence apiece.
2 Car. 1.A Pound Weight of Gold, of the Old Standard of Twenty three Carats Three Grains and an Half Fine, and Half a Grain Allay, was Coined into Fourty four Pounds Ten Shillings by Tale, to wit, into Rose-Rialls at Thirty Shillings apiece, Spur-Rialls at Fifteen Shillings apiece, or Angels at Ten Shillings apiece; and a Pound Weight of Crown Gold of Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, into Fourty one Pounds by Tale, to wit, into Unites at Twenty Shillings, Double Crowns at Ten Shillings, or British-Crowns at Five Shillings apiece; and a Pound of Silver of the Old Standard of Eleven Ounces, Two Peny Weight Fine, into Sixty two Shillings by Tale; Namely, into Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, Half-shillings, Two-pences, Pence, and Half-pence, by Indenture between the King and Sir Robert Harleigh.
12 C. 2.The like both for Gold and Silver Moneys, by Indenture between the King and Sir Ralph Freeman.
22.An Indenture between the King and Henry Slingsby Master and Worker, to Coin Crown Gold Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay into Fourty four Pounds Ten Shillings by Tale; to wit, into Pieces to run for Ten Shillings, Twenty Shillings, Fourty Shillings, or Five Pounds apiece; and a Pound of Silver of the Old Standard into Three Pounds Two Shillings by Tale, to wit, into Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, Half-shillings, Groats, Half-sixpences, Half-Groats and Pence.
A Pound Weight of Gold,1 Jac. 2. Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, to be Coined into Fourty four Pounds Ten Shillings by Tale; and a Pound Weight of Silver of the Old Standard into Sixty two Shillings by Tale, just as the preceding Indenture: And Thomas Neale, Esq.; was Master and Worker.
The like.1 W. & M.
By the careful observing of which Deduction here made, from the Indentures of the Mint for above Four hundred years past (many of which are yet extant, and have been seen and examined by me) it doth evidently appear, That it has been a policy constantly Practised in the Mints of England (the like having indeed been done in all Foreign Mints belonging to other Governments) to Raise the Value of the Coin in its Extrinsick Denomination, from time to time, as any Exigence or Occasion required; and more especially to Encourage the bringing of Bullion into the Realm to be Coined (though sometimes, when the desired End was obtained, the Value has been suffered to fall again.) So that in the whole Number of Years, from the Twenty eighth of Edward the First, until this time, by such Variations the Extrinsick Value or Denomination of the Silver is Raised in about a Triple Proportion; that is to say, In the Reign of the said King Edward the First (as is plain by this Narrative) a Pound Weight Troy of Sterling Silver was shorn at Twenty Shillings and Three Pence, and consequently Two hundred fourty three Pence, or Twenty Shillings and One Fourth of a Shilling, or One Pound and One Eightieth Part of a Pound by Tale, were then Coin’d, out of the said Pound Weight Troy: Whereas at this day, and for about Ninety years past, a Pound Weight Troy of like Silver, is and hath been Coin’d into Seven hundred fourty four Pence, or Sixty two Shillings, or Three Pounds, and One tenth of a Pound by Tale, the Pound Weight Troy having then and now the same Weight and Fineness. And as to the Gold, I need only to observe from the foregoing Deduction, That in the Eighteenth of Edward the First, a Pound Weight Fine, Twenty three Carats, Three Grains and one Half, was Coin’d into Fifteen Pounds by Tale: Whereas at this day a Pound Weight of Gold, of the Fineness only of Twenty two Carats, is Coin’d into Fourty four Pounds Ten Shillings. And this Method of Raising the Extrinsick Value of the Gold and Silver, in the Denominations of the Coins, as it hath been constant almost in the Reign of every King, so no Inconvenience, Disgrace or Mischief (as can be observed) has ever accrued by the doing thereof at any time, when a Just, Necessary or Reasonable Cause gave Occasion thereunto,
The which being Premised, and every Project for Debasing the Money (by the Reason before given) being Rejected as Dangerous, Dishonourable and Needless: It remains that our Nation in its present Exigence, may avail it self, by Raising the Value of its Coins, and this may be effected, either by making the respective Pieces called Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, &c., to be lesser in Weight, or by continuing the same Weight or Bigness, which is at present in the Unclipt Moneys, and Ordaining at the same time, that every such Piece shall be Currant at a higher Price in Tale.
But before I proceed to give my Opinion upon this Subject, it seems necessary for me to assert and prove an Hypothesis, which is this, namely, That making thePieces less, or ordaining the respective Pieces (of the present Weight) to be Currant at a higher Rate, may equally raise the Value of the Silver in our Coins. The former of these finds many Precedents in the Indentures above recited, but the latter seems more suitable to our present Circumstances, as will afterwards be shewed more at large.
This Hypothesis or Theorem is easily demonstrated thus, Let it be granted, That a Crown Piece by the present Standard contains in Sterling Silver (as it really doth) Nineteen Penny Weight, and parts of a Peny Weight: Or (which is the same thing) Nineteen Peny Weight Eight Grains and an Half, and a very small fractional part more, going at this time for Five Shillings, or Sixty Pence. And let it be supposed (which is practicable, and the thing aimed at) that this very Crown Piece be ordained to pass for Six Shillings and Three Pence, or (which is equal) Seventy five Pence. Then I say by Inverse Proportion, as Seventy five Pence are to Sixty Pence, so Sixty will be to Fourty eight Pence, which are equal to Four Shillings. From whence I infer, That if the Extrinsick Value of the Silver now in a Crown were to be Rais’d to Six Shillings and Three Pence (by diminishing the Weight of the Piece according to former Precedents) then such Diminitive Crown must weigh only Four fifths of the said 19. Peny Weight, that is to say, it must weigh Fifteen Peny Weight, and parts of a Peny Weight, and in this case Five Three Pences to be Coin’d in the same Proportion, to compleat the Rais’d Value of Six Shillings and Three Pence, must weigh One fourth part of the Diminitive Crown, as in the Margin.15.4838704 3.8709676 Again (by direct Proportion) if 15.4838704 Peny Weight of Sterling Silver is to go or be Currant for Five Shillings, or Sixty Pence, then 19,354838 Peny Weight of Sterling Silver (which is the Quantity in an Unclipt Crown by the present Standard,19.3548380 and equal to the Sum or Aggregate of the other Two Quantities) ought to go and be Currant for Six Shillings and Three Pence, or Seventy five Pence, and consequently will Raise the Extrinsick Value of the Silver, as much as diminishing the Pieces would do; which was to be demonstrated.
And now (having cleared my way) I humbly take leave to offer my Opinion, That all such Silver Moneys as are after Enumerated of the Lawful Coins of this Realm of England,* Memorandum, Moneys Clipt or Unclipt, are afterwards Described by certain Weights.which are now in being, and are not at all diminished by Clipping, Rounding, Filing, Washing, or any other Artifice, be Raised by Publick Authority to the foot of Six shillings and Three pence for the Crown, and proportionably for the other Species, namely, the Crown to go for Seventy five pence, the Half-Crown to go for Thirty seven pence and an half-peny, the Shilling for Fifteen pence, and the Half-shilling for Seven pence half-peny, leaving all the other old Unclipt Pieces as the Thirteen pence half-peny, the Nine pence, the Groat, Two pence, &c. which are very few in Number, and much worn, to go upon their present Foot, and to find their Values in pence, and parts of a peny, as they do at this day. And that the New Coins to be made, either of the Clipt Money, as it shall be brought in, or of any other Sterling Silver, be made, in their respective Weights or Bigness, by the present Indenture of the Mint, that is to say, One Piece which may be called the Sceptre, or the Silver-Unite, or by such other Name as His Majesty shall Appoint, and to be exactly of the Weight and Fineness of the present Unclipt Crown Piece, but to run for Seventy five Pence Sterling; of which Pieces so made, there shall be Twelve, and Two fifths of such piece in a Pound Weight Troy; and Three of the said Pieces called Sceptres or Unites, or by such other Name, as aforesaid, together with a Fifteen Peny Piece,after mentioned, shall make by Tale One Pound Sterling, or One Pound of Lawful Money of England, in all Accounts and Lawful Payments whatsoever. Another Piece which may be called the Half-Sceptre or Half-Unite, or by such other Name as His Majesty shall Appoint, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to a present Unclipt Half-Crown, but to run for Thirty seven Pence and an Half-peny Sterling; of which Pieces last mentioned, there shall be Twenty four, and Four Fifths of such a Piece in a Pound Weight Troy; and Six of the said Pieces called Half-Sceptres or Half-Unite, or by such other Name as His Majesty shall Appoint, together with One Fifteen Peny Piece after-mentioned, shall make by Tale One Pound Sterling, or One Pound of Lawful English Money, in all Accounts and Legal Payments whatsoever. One other Piece which may be called the Testoon, or Fifteen Peny Piece, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to a present Unclipt Shilling, but to run for Fifteen Pence Sterling, of which there shall be Sixty two in a Pound Weight Troy, and Sixteen of the said Pieces called Testoons, or Fifteen Peny Pieces, shall make in Tale One Pound Sterling, or One Pound of Lawful English Money; or Ten of these Testoons, together with Two such Grosses or Groats, as are after mentioned, will make a Mark Sterling, or Five of them, and One such Gross or Groat, will make a Noble, which the Law used to call the Hauf Merk, or Eight of them will make the Angel, or Four of them will make the Crown, or Two of them will make the Half-Crown: And they may be proportionably varied, many other ways in all Accounts, Reckonings and Legal Payments whatsoever. One other Piece, which may be called the Half-Testoon, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to the Half-shilling by the present Standard, but to run for Seven Pence Half-peny Sterling, of which there shall be One hundredtwenty four in the Pound Weight Troy; and Thirty two of the said Pieces to be called Half-Testoons, shall make in Tale One Pound Sterling; or Twenty of these, with Two of the Grosses or Groats, will make a Mark in Tale; or Ten of these Half-Testoons, with one Gross, will make a Noble: or Eight of the said Half-Testoons will make a Crown by Tale; or Five of them with a Half-Groat, will make the Half-Noble, or Three Shillings and Four pence by Tale; or Four of the said Half-Testoons, will make an Half-Crown; or Thirty two of them will make Twenty Shillings by Tale; or Sixteen of them will make Ten Shilling by Tale; or Eight of them will make Five Shillings by Tale; and they may many other ways be proportionably varied in all Accounts, Reckonings and Legal Payments whatsoever. One other piece which may be called the Gross or Five-peny piece, to be equal in Weight and Fineness to a Groat by the present Standard, but to run for Five pence Sterling, of which there shall be One hundred eighty six in the pound Weight Troy; and Fourty eight of the said Grosses or Five-peny pieces, will make in Tale One Pound Sterling; or a proportionable Number of them in many Cases (too tedious here to enumerate) will answer to the said Denominations of Pounds, Marks, Half-Marks, Quarter-Marks, Angels, Crowns, Half-Crowns, Shillings, and Pence used in Accounts, or in Acts of Parliament, Records, or other Legal Instruments, which are absolutely necessary to be continued. One other piece which may be called the Quarter-Testoon, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to a Three peny piece by the present Standard, but to run for Three pence three farthings Sterling, of which there shall be Two hundred fourty eight in a Pound Weight Troy, and Sixty four of these Quarter-Testoons will make in Tale One Pound Sterling, or a proportionable Number of them will answer in a greater Number of Cases to the said Denominationsused in Accounts, or in the Laws of England. One other Piece which may be called the Half-Groat or Half-Gross, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to a Two peny piece by the present Standard, but to run for Two pence half-peny Sterling, of which there shall be Three hundred seventy two in a Pound Weight Troy, and Ninety six of the said Half-Groats will make in Tale One pound Sterling, or a proportionable Number of them will answer, in most Cases, to the said Denominations used in Accounts, or in the Laws of England. And one other Piece which may be called the Prime, which shall be equal in Weight and Fineness to a present Standard peny, but to run for Five farthings, or for One peny, and the fourth part of a peny Sterling, of which there shall be Seven hundred fourty and four in a Pound Weight Troy, and One hundred ninety and two of the said Primes will make in Tale One pound Sterling, or a proportionable Number of them (the Combinations whereof are almost infinite) will answer almost in all Cases to the said Denominations used in Accounts, or in the Laws of England. And because it may be convenient to have the Denomination of Shillings continued, let there be added One Piece to be called the Shilling, or Twelve peny Piece, to be equal in Fineness, though not in Weight, to any Standard Money now in being, to run for Twelve pence Sterling, (which will be a Fifth part less in Weight then the present Shilling) of these there shall be Seventy seven and an Half in a Pound Weight Troy, and Twenty of them will make a Pound by Tale, whereby every Pound Weight Troy of the Silver Moneys aforesaid, will be and hold in Number and Tale, and in the Value will be Rais’d from Three pounds Two shillings, to Three pounds Seventeen shillings and Six pence Sterling, by the Pound Troy: And my Reasons for this Opinion are as follows:
First, The Value of the Silver in the Coin ought to be Raised to the Foot of Six Shillings Three Pence in every Crown, because the Price of Standard Silver in Bullion is Risen (from divers necessary and unnecessary Causes, producing at length a great scarcity thereof in England) to Six Shillings Five Pence an Ounce: This Reason (which I humbly conceive will appear irrefragable) is grounded chiefly upon a Truth so Apparent, that it may well be compared to an Axiom even in Mathematical Reasoning, to wit, That whensoever the Extrinsick Value of Silver in the Coin hath been, or shall be less than the price of Silver in Bullion, the Coin hath been, and will be Melted down. Although the melting down of Coin, for private Lucre, be done in secret (because ’tis Punishable by * Law) yet no man can doubt but that it has been Practised for a long time past, to such a Degree, upon the Weighty Money, as that in particular, the Crowns and Half-Crowns of Edward the Sixth and Queen Elizabeth are quite vanished: Those of King James the First are become very rare: Those of King Charles the First (though the most numerous of all that remain) are in a great measure Reduced, and will appear to be so the more plainly, when they come to be distinguished from the Counterfeits, which are mostly contrived to Resemble these: The Crowns, Half-Crowns, and indeed the lesser Coins of King Charles the Second (the far greatest part whereof were Milled Money) in all Payments at the Exchequer, and other Publick Offices, do not, by Estimation, exceed the Proportion of Ten Shillings per Cent. or a Two hundreth Part. And if this Wicked Fact of Melting down has been notoriously Committed, at times when there was no great difference between the Value of the Silver in the Coin and that in the Bullion; or when the Goldsmiths and other Artificers could make no other Profit thereby, than the small Overweight, which (by Weighing and Culling the Pieces Coin’d at the Tower) they found to be in some of them, which being Molten, might be carried back to the Mint, and there Re-coin’d at the King’s Charge into a greater Number by Tale for their own Use: Then one may easily conclude, That the temptation of Melting down, is grown of late much more prevalent; since, at this day, Standard Silver in Bullion is commonly sold at the said Price of Six Shillings and Five Pence, or for Seventy seven Pence an Ounce. And in regard Twenty Peny Weight (equal to an Ounce) bears the same Proportion to Seventy seven Pence as Nineteen Peny Weight, and of One Peny Weight (equal to the Standard Silver contained in a Crown Piece) doth to Six Shillings and Two Pence Half-peny; it is most plain, that he that now Melts down (for instance) a Crown Piece, which whilst it retains the Image and Superscription of His Majesty, or either of the late King’s runs only for Five Shillings, can immediately sell the Silver of it here for Six Shillings and Two Pence Half-peny, and gain the Sum of Fourteen Pence Half-peny upon every such Melted Piece, by such Sale of the Silver here, or (by reason of the great Loss which this Nation at present suffers in its Foreign Exchange or Remittances) he may make a greater Profit of the same Silver, by Exporting it into Foreign Parts, if he can effect the same, either by Stealth, or by Eluding the late Act of Parliament, Prohibiting such Exportation. One may also foresee, that continuing the Silver Moneys (either Old or New Coins) upon the present Foot, whilst Bullion is so much dearer, will inevitably produce Consequences pernicious to the whole; in effect it will be nothing else but the furnishing Offenders with a Species to Melt down at an extravagant Profit, and encouraging not a necessary, but a violent and exorbitant Exportation of our Silver to the Foreign Parts, for the sake of the Gain only, till we shall have little or none left in the Kingdom. And upon an Impartial Consideration of these Matters, we may be able to make a more mature Judgment upon the Suggestion that has been raised by some Men; Namely, That Raising the Value of our Coin, or Continuing it on the present Foot will be the same thing. If these Gentlemen mean, that Silver in Bullion will always, during this War, be dearer than Silver in Coin, because of the necessity to Export it for the Foreign Expence of the War, and to answer the Ballance of Trade, occasioned by the Interruption of our Navigation, I answer,
First, That this Necessity may be diminished; but it cannot in any Sence be Augmented, by Raising the Value of our Coin.
Secondly, That supposing the worst, to wit, a further Advance of the Silver in Bullion, yet even in that case, the Offenders before mentioned will not find so much Incouragement or Temptation, when their Profit, whatsoever it be, upon every Raised Crown, must evidently be less by Fourteen Pence Half-peny than it is at present, upon a Crown running in Payment for Five Shillings only.
Thirdly, It is hoped that the Exchange to Holland, (which by the way has risen a little of late) may by the Success of some good Designs now on Foot (though the War should continue) be kept at a stand, at least from falling much lower. In which Case I think the Arguments of these Gentlemen will have little or no Weight.
Fourthly, There must be a great difference with regard to the Service and Disservice of the Publick, between a necessary Exportation of Bullion or Coin, (perhaps the One may be as well Dispensed with as the other, by Publick Authority, and to a Limited Sum only for the Service of the War) and such an Exportation thereof, as proceeds Originally from the said exorbitant Profit of the Melters, who being Goldsmiths, Refiners, or other Traders, and by this Means, and by the Clippings, getting great Quantities of Molten Silver into their Hands, know well enough (though by Unlawful or Indirect Means) to convey the same beyond Sea, either to buy Gold there, which is afterwards brought hither and Coin’d into Guineas, passing at Thirty Shillings apiece; or to buy Prohibited Goods, as Lace, Lustrings, Muslins, divers East-India Goods, or other enumerated Commodities, or for other Purposes, which, though unlawful or needless, do all help or combine, at this time, to Augment and Inhance that Ballance of Trade between us and our Neighbours, very much to our Detriment, as will be shew’d hereafter.
Fifthly, These Gentlemen consider only the use of our Coin in England, as it hath Relation to Foreign Exchanges or Remittances, whereas it serves principally the Inland Commerce, and supplies many other occasions, which will be advantaged by the Rise and Plenty thereof. And whereas it is apprehended that the proposed Advance of the Silver in the Coin, will produce a proportionable loss in all Rents and Revenues, Publick or Private, settled or ascertained by Antecedent Reservations, Grants or Agreements, and in all Debts now standing out upon Specialty, or without Specialty: I humbly conceive these Apprehensions must entirely vanish, when it shall be impartially considered, That this Nation is, and hath been for some time past, ingaged in a necessary War, which hath not only caused a great Expence of our Wealth in Foreign Parts of Europe, but hath Interrupted the Navigation, which used to Supply us from East and West Indies, and from other Parts of Asia, Africa and America, with much greater Quantities of Goods than served our own Consumption, and consequently afforded us a large Overplus, which, together with our own Native Product or Manufacture, were Exported to our Neighbour Nations, in Barter or Exchange for the Goods we received of them. That reckoning on the one side the Value of the Naval Stores, Linens, Silks, Salt-Petre, and many other Enumerated Commodities, which we receive from our Neighbours, and adding thereunto our Foreign Expence for the War: And on the other side the Value of so much of our Native Manufactures, or Produce, and the small Overplus of Goods brought from the East and West Indies, &c. as we have lately Exported, or can Export into our Neighbour Nations of Europe, there would appear a great Difference or Excess between the one side and the other of such Account or Reckoning; which Difference or Excess is or may be called the Ballance of Trade. That it cannot be conceived how this Ballance, Difference, or Excess hath been or can be answered by us in any thing other than our Coin or Bullion. That to answer this Ballance of Trade, there hath been already Exported a great part of our Coins and Bullion, namely, Clippings, which I think must have been equal in Value to at least a Fourth part of our whole Species of Silver Moneys, the Molten Silver of a good part of our heavy Coins, part of our heavy Coins themselves, our whole Stock of Foreign Silver; for I am told there is little or none of that to be bought in England at this time, and the Molten Silver of a great deal of our English Plate and Vessels, which People have been induced to part with at a good Price. That by this means Silver in Coin or in Mass is actually grown very Scarce in England. That every thing having any Value or Worth whatsoever, when it becomes Scarce grows Dear, or (which is the same thing) it Riseth in Price, and consequently it will serve to pay more Debt, or it will buy greater Quantities of other Goods of Value, or in any thing else it will go further than it did before. That Silver in England being grown Scarce, as aforesaid, is consequently grown Dearer. That it is Risen in Price from Five Shillings and Two Pence, to Six Shillings and Five Pence an Ounce: And by Daily Experience Nineteen Peny Weight and Three Tenths of a Peny Weight in Sterling Silver (equal to the Weight of a Crown Piece) in England, doth, and will Purchase more Coined Money than Five Shillings by Tale, (though the latter be delivered bonâ fide in Unclipt Shillings, or in a good Bill) and consequently doth and will Purchase and Acquire more Goods or necessaries, or pay more Debts in England, or (being delivered here) it fetches more Money in any Foreign Parts by way of Exchange, than Five Shillings by Tale, or the Sixth Part of a Guinea by Tale, or Goods to the Value of Five Shillings in Tale only, do or can Fetch, Purchase or Acquire. That this Advanced Price of the Silver has been growing for some time, and is Originally caused by the Ballance, Excess or Difference abovementioned, which Naturally and Rationally produces such an effect. And there is no reason to expect that Silver will decline in its Price or Value here, till it be made more plentiful, by turning the Ballance of Trade to our Advantage, which seems to be a Work that can be accomplished with Success in times of Peace, or by such a Protection of our Trade, as will render our Exportations as large as they used to be in times of Peace. That the Raising the Value of the Silver in our Coins to make it equal to Silver in Mass, can in no Sence be understood to be a cause of making Silver Scarce. That there can never be propos’d any just or reasonable Foot upon which the Coins should be Currant, save only the very Price of the Silver thereof, in case it be Molten in the same Place where the Coins are made Currant, or an Extrinsick Denomination very near that Price: It being most evident, That if the Value of the Silver in the Coins should (by any Extrinsick Denomination) be Raised above the Value, or Market Price of the same Silver, reduced to Bullion, the Subject would be proportionably Injured and Defrauded, as they were formerly in the case of the Base Moneys Coin’d by Publick Authority; but if the Value of the Silver in the Coins be less than the Value or Market Price of the same Silver reduced to Bullion, then the Coins are always Melted down for Lucre, as they have been, and are at this day in the Case of the Unclipt Moneys, and as they will certainly be, in Case of any New Coins that shall be made, to be Currant upon the Old Foot of Sixty Pence for the Silver of a Crown Piece; which sufficiently proves, That the Medium propos’d is the true Foundation for the Course of our Moneys. That for this purpose we need only to consider the very Price that Silver bears in England, where these Coins are to be Currant, although if we will have Relation to Neighbouring Countreys, particularly to Holland, we shall find that the Currant Price of an Ounce of Silver there, adding thereunto the Difference of Exchange from London to Amsterdam or Roterdam (which Difference in the Exchange, is but another Effect of the Ballance of Trade beforementioned) will still make up the Price of Six Shillings and Five Pence for the Ounce of Silver at London. And if this were not so, your Lordships might be sure that no body would buy Silver at London for Six Shillings and Five Pence an Ounce, carry it to Holland, and sell it there perhaps for Five Shillings and Five Pence an Ounce, or for so much in their Coins, the Silver whereof is not equal to Five Shillings and Five Pence by our Standard. That it ought not to be Alledged that Silver has no Price; for every Indenture of the Mint (having first Ascertain’d the Extrinsick Denomination of the Currant Coins) has taken care also to Determine the Price or Value of the Silver to the Merchant or Importer, which was to be Answered in those Extrinsick Denominations; and daily Experience shews every Man, in Buying or Selling of Silver, that it has a Price or Value still Reckoned in those Extrinsick Denominations, although at present it much exceeds, as aforesaid, the said Rate of Sixty two Shillings for a Pound Troy. That Five Shillings Coin’d upon the Foot hereby proposed, will actually contain more real and Intrinsick Value of Silver by a great deal, than is in the Currant Moneys now commonly Applied to the Payment of the said Rents, Revenues and Debts, upon which the imaginary Loss is Apprehended, and in Reason will and ought to go further to all Intents and Purposes, than Five Shillings in Clipt Moneys, or in the Sixth Part of a Guinea, doth or can go; which will be better understood, when the Mischiefs of these Clipt Moneys and Guineas come to be Explain’d in the Third Chapter. And lastly, That as the Foot or Foundation hereby Proposed, for the Course of the Moneys, will be Just and Reasonable, with regard to the Price of Silver, and more Advantagious to the Receivers thereof, than Payment in Clipt Moneys or Gold at the present Price; so every Person that shall Receive any Money Coin’d or made Currant upon this New Foot, will have the Payment, Issuing and Expenditure thereof at the same Rate. And it is freely submitted to Impartial Judgments, whether the propos’d Advance of Silver in the Coins can infer a Real Loss upon any Persons, other than such as can propose to themselves particularly the Receipt of Moneys in Weighty or Unclipt Pieces only, and the Conversion thereof to an Advantage, which Law or Reason would not allow them.
Secondly, The Value of the Silver in the Coin ought to be Raised, to encourage the bringing of Bullion to the Mint to be Coin’d. It is a Matter of Fact well known to your Lordships, and (by the small Number of the Pieces of the present King, or of His Majesty and the Deceas’d Queen) it is perceivable by every body else, that since Bullion hath born a greater Price than Silver in the Coin, there has been none brought to the Mint to be Coin’d, either by Importers or others, unless some small Parcels, that were Seiz’d or sent thither by Publick Authority. And it is utterly against Reason for any Man to think, that any Bullion of Silver will be carried thither voluntarily to be Coin’d, till the Value of Silver Coin’d be Raised, at least as high as the Value of Silver in Bullion. By the propos’d Advance to Six Shillings and Three Pence, the Sterling Silver in the Coins will be set at Six Shillings and Five Pence Half-peny per Ounce, which will exceed the present Price of Sterling in Bullion by One Half-peny per Ounce, and give (though by a small Profit) an encouragement to those that have English Silver or Plate, and particularly to the Retailers of Wine, Beer, Ale and other Liquors, (whose Tankards and other Vessels are herein after propos’d to be brought in) and generally to all those that have or can have Silver Imported, to carry the same to the Mint to be Coin’d. And this will be agreeable to the Policy that in past Ages (as hath been observed upon the aforesaid Deduction) hath been Practised not only in our Mint, but in the Mints of all Politick Governments, namely, to Raise the Value of Silver in the Coin, to Promote the Work of the Mint.
Thirdly, The Raising the Value of the Silver in the Coin, will increase the whole Species in Tale, and thereby make it more commensurate to the general need thereof, for carrying on the Common Traffick and Commerce of the Nation, and to answer the Payments on the numerous Contracts, Securities, and other daily Occasions, requiring a larger Supply of Money for that purpose. This Reason may be further Illustrated, by considering that the want of a sufficient Stock of Money, hath been the chief Cause of Introducing so much Paper Credit (which is at best hazardous, and may be carried too far) and the Setting up of Offices, both in City and Country, for Bartering of Goods or Permutations.
Fourthly, The Silver in the Old Unclipt Moneys, and in the New Coins now Propos’d to be made, ought to be Raised (as I have offered) Equally, to avoid Confusion and Uncertainty in Payments: For if Pieces, having the same Bigness, should have different Values, it might be difficult for the Common People (especially those not skilled in Arithmetick) to Compute how many of one kind will be equal to the Sum of another; and there might be some Dispute about the Lawful Money of England, to be Paid upon Mortgages, Bonds, Contracts, or other Legal Securities referring thereunto.
Fifthly, The Foot of Six Shillings and Three Pence for the Crown, here Propos’d, will not only be suitable to the present Rate of Bullion, but it happens to be such a Sum as is Deviseable into a great Number of Aliquot or other Integral Parts, to serve for the lesser Coins before Propos’d, so that none of them will come forth in any Fractional Part of a Farthing, which will obviate much Perplexity amongst the Common People: And I think there is scarce any other Sum near it that is Deviseable in like manner.
Sixthly, By this Project, all Computations in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence, used in Accounts; and the Reckonings by Pounds, Marks, Half-Marks, Shillings, and Pence, practised in the Law of England, and in the Records, Contracts and other Instruments, relating thereunto, will be Preserved as they ought to be.
Seventhly, By this Method, the bringing in of the present Unclipt Coins, to be cut into lesser Pieces, are rendered needless; which Species being at present (for the most part) Hoarded, will, upon Raising their Value, come forth, and go a great way towards Supplying the Commerce and other Occasions, whilst the New Money is making. And I think it will be Granted to be utterly impossible, in this time of War, to Re-Coin the Clipt Moneys, if at the same time the Unclipt shall be brought in to be new Cut; or if the Unclipt Pieces should not (by such an Encouragement) be brought forth to Supply the Commerce, Pay Taxes, and serve other Occasions in the mean time.
Eighthly, It is difficult to Conceive, how any Design of Amending the Clipt Moneys can be compassed, without Raising the Value of the Silver remaining in them, because of the great Deficiency of the Silver Clipt away; which (upon Re-Coining) must necessarily be Defrayed or Born one way or other.
Ninthly, As our Unclipt Moneys, and the New Coins here Propos’d to be made, will, by the former Proposition, retain the Ancient Sterling, or Old Right Standard of the Mint for Fineness and Purity (the Alteration of which could never be Justified by any Necessity;) so by this Proposition they will both Continue the Present Standard of the Mint in the Weight or Bigness of the respective Pieces, without being cut into Less, as they have formerly been (the New Shilling only excepted:) These Propositions indeed, dealing with nothing but the very Value of the Silver in the Coins, to make it equal to the Currant Price of our own Bullion or Silver in Mass, with a very little Excess, to wit, of an Halfpeny in an Ounce, to encourage the Coinage, and to make it bear the like Reason or Proportion to the Price of Foreign Moneys now Currant amongst us: Namely, the Pillar Dollars, which go at Seven Shillings and a Peny per Ounce, and Sevil and Mexico Dollars at Seven Shillings per Ounce, and to effect an equality in all Pieces, having the same Extrinsick Denomination, and thereby to cure such Mischiefs relating to our Coin, as are not to be Parallel’d in the Records of former Ages: Which Raised Values may be Lowered again by the Wisdom and Authority of Parliament, when the Wealth of the Nation shall (by God’s Blessing) be Re-establisht without Trouble or Charge of Re-coining or Cutting the Silver Pieces into other Sizes.
As to the Gold Coins which are now almost wholly Reduced or Converted into the Pieces called Guineas and Half-Guineas, they were first Coin’d by King Charles the Second, not long after the Restauration; and were ordained to go at the Rates of Twenty Shillings for the Guinea, and Ten Shillings for the Half-Guinea; but I do not remember that they ever passed at so little, as the Prices which were then set upon them, because our Nation has been always too apt to overvalue its Gold. And at this time the Guinea runs for Thirty Shillings, although the Gold of it (if it were carried to Spain, Italy, Barbary, and some other Places of the World) would not Purchase so much Silver there, as is equal to the Standard of four of our Crowns, or Twenty Shillings. And here it is necessary for me to Observe, That if the Gold had Advanced proportionably with the Silver, then because as Five Shillings (the Standard Value of the Silver in a Crown) is to Six Shillings and Two Pence Halfpeny, the present Value of the same Silver in Mass, so Twenty Shillings (the Standard Value of the Gold in Guinea) is to Twenty four Shillings and Ten Pence; It should follow by Reason that a Guinea at this day should go for about Twenty four Shillings and Ten Pence, but it apparently runs for about Five Shillings more, so that in the time that the Silver in a Crown is Risen about a Fifth part, the Gold in a Guinea is Risen in a much greater proportion, namely, a compleat Third part. Which Advance of Five Shillings in a Guinea (over and above the proportionable Rise which it should have had to make it keep pace with the Silver) is exceedingly detrimental to our Nation at this Day (as will be hereafter shewed more at large.) And seeing it can be attributed to nothing but the present Badness of our Silver Coins, which are so exceedingly Counterfeited, and Clipt, that the Common People will take Guineas almost at any Rate, rather than stand the hazard and vexation of such Silver Moneys as are now Currant amongst them: I am therefore humbly of Opinion, That altering the present Standard of our Gold Coins (which prescribes Twenty two Carats Fine, and Two Carats Allay, and that Fourty four Guineas and an Half shall be cut from a Pound Weight of such Gold) would avail nothing. And that the only remedy to fix these Gold Coins upon a right Foot, will be the Re-establishment of the Silver Coins, which (as soon as Atchieved according to these Propositions) will in all likelihood and probability, presently reduce the Guineas to about Twenty five Shillings apiece by the most Natural and Easie way, without fixing any limited Price thereupon by Publick Authority, which (if one were to judge by past Experience) would never be observed, at least for any time.
A Corollary: The abovementioned Ballance of Trade being (as is before observed) the Original Cause of the scarcity of Silver in England, and of the Loss by the Foreign Exchange or Remittances, he that can propose any proper Expedients, either to lessen that Ballance, or convert it to our Advantage, ought to be well heard. But any Proposal which supposes the Ballance of Trade must be Rectified before our Coins be Amended, or a Reasonable Foundation can be fixed for the Course of the same, does but postpone the Cure of a Disease which may destroy us before such a Remedy can take effect.
The True and Reasonable Adjustment of that which is called by the French, Pied de Monoye, and by others Anciently Pes Monetæ, was and is of principal consideration in this whole Affair: And therefore I hope your Lordships will excuse me for having been so prolix in the subject of the Standards.
[* ]This is a controverted question, but on the whole we have no difficulty in dissenting from the opinion of Petty. Coins are to be regarded rather as the property of the public than of individuals. They pass freely from hand to hand among all classes; and their weight is diminished by the wear they undergo, and sometimes also (as was especially the case in 1690) by the fraudulent practices of clippers and others. But it would be most unjust to make the present holders of Coins responsible for their wear during the previous twenty or thirty years, or for the depredations practised upon them in the teeth of the law by knaves and swindlers. These are losses which the Coins have incurred in the public service, and they should consequently be borne by the public.
[* ]Vide Hales of Sheriffs Accounts, p. 5.
[* ]9 E. 3. & 17 R. 2. Prohibited Goldsmiths and others to Melt down small Coins, under Pain of Forfeiture of the Molten Silver.
[* ]Folkes and Ruding have shown that this date is erroneous, and that the Indenture referred to belongs to the 18th and not to the 1st year of Henry’s reign.—Ruding On the Coinage, 3rd ed. I. p. 301 and p. 305.