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English Civil War Provincial Mint Issues

Started by Deeman, July 15, 2022, 02:53:03 PM

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Deeman

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Introduction

On 10 Jan 1642, Charles I had to leave London as the unrest against him grew. He had recently tried to arrest five members of parliament on treason charges, but failed. His coach had been surrounded by a mob when he had demanded that those who were sheltering the five members should give them up. This was enough to scare Charles and his Queen, Henrietta, into leaving London.

This topic covers coinage issues from all mints, with the exclusion of the Tower Mint which came under the control of the Parliamentarians, from the time when Charles I fled London up to the first Republican issues of the Commonwealth in 1649.

'Siege money' produced by besieged castles in Royalist strongholds (Carlisle, Newark, Scarborough and Pontefract), which were cut off from the outside world and forced to produce their own coins to secure the continued loyalty of soldiers and maintain internal commerce is also excluded. Some of these coins were odd-shaped and uniface with values assessed by the weight of the final product. A post on 'siege money' can be found here.

The list below identifies Charles' emergency mints/locations in an approximate chronological operational order:

Aberystwyth Mint (operating pre-war) - posts #2-10.
Shrewsbury Mint - posts #11-17.
Truro Mint - posts #18-20.
Oxford Mint - posts #21-35.
York Mint - posts #36-40.
Bristol Mint - posts #41-49.
Exeter Mint - posts #50-60.
Worcester & Salopia (unattested locations) - posts #61-69.
Welsh Marches (unattested location) - post #70.
Hawarden (Old) Castle (unattested location previously having Hartlebury Castle attribution) - post #71.
Chester Mint - posts #72-75.
Uncertain location dated 1645 - post #76
Ashby de la Zouch (unattested and questionable location) - posts #77-81.
Bridgnorth (unattested and very questionable location) - posts #82-87.
Furnace Mint, near Aberystwyth - post #88-94.

A post on the first issue of Commonwealth coins following the execution of Charles I can be found here.

Until 1752, the year ended on 24 Mar. So, for dates between 1 Jan and 24 Mar two years are given, e.g., 19 Mar 1641/2, the former being the year at that time, the latter being the year adjusted to the present time.

Deeman

Overview

The Civil War was inevitable once Charles, who had fled London fearing for the safety of himself and his family. York was Charles I's 'second capital', and after being forced to leave London early, he made his way there arriving on 19 Mar 1641/2. Charles left York on 16 Aug and raised his Royal Standard of war on a mound called Derry Mount north of the main gateway of Nottingham castle on 22 Aug to rally support for the Royalist cause. On 20 Sep at Wellington, Shropshire, Charles proclaimed to his army his intention of preserving the protestant religion, the laws of England, and the liberty of Parliament. This 'declaration' would feature prominently on the coins of the provincial mints. Charles established his own parliament in Oxford in 1644 and directed his affairs from there.

The king needed coined money to pay for his troops, and as the Parliamentarians had taken control of London and its mint at the Tower, the king was forced to establish mints in parts of England that were still loyal to him. In the first year of the war, the king set up additional mints at York, Shrewsbury, Oxford and Truro. The soldiers' pay varied between 6/- and 17/6 per week in Dec 1642.

The Royalists had a head start as there was already a mint in Aberystwyth prior to the Civil War. Sir Thomas Bushell, who ran the Aberystwyth Castle mint (Welsh silver coin had a distinctive open book initial mark) that was established in 1637, was tasked with producing coinage for the king. Once local Royalists had secured the town of Shrewsbury, Charles commanded Bushell to move his mint there. The denominations struck in Aberystwyth have the Welsh plumes and this motif was continued on the Shrewsbury issues. The Shrewsbury issues introduced the reverse 'Declaration' type with an abbreviation of the king's proclamation of 20 Sep 1642 at Wellington – RELIG(IO) PROT(ESTANTIUM) LEG(ES) ANG(LIAE) LIBER(TAS) PAR(LIAMENTI).

From Shrewsbury, Bushell moved to Oxford where the mint opened on 3 Jan 1642/3 and it became the king's main mint until it fell in 1646. Following the capture of Bristol in 27 Jul 1643 by the Royalists under Prince Rupert, Bushell established a mint in Bristol Castle in Aug/Sep. On 11 Sep 1645 Bristol fell to the Parliamentarians.

In the extreme south-west, preparations were being made on the king's behalf as early as Aug 1642 at the outset of war. On 14 Nov 1642, Sir Richard Vyvyan received a commission "to coin both gold and silver and to make same with dies, stamps and forms, as the monies now current within the realm." There was a Royalist headquarters at Launceston, Cornwall, and from there on 19 Nov a dispatch was issued impressing on Vyvyan the urgency of putting the king's command into operation and "of obtaining a suitable person and tools whereby the requisite dies could be made." He selected Truro which commenced to strike coins in Nov 1642 in denominations of half-unite, crown, halfcrown and shilling. When Exeter capitulated to Prince Maurice (nephew of Charles I) in Sep 1643, Vyvyan relocated the Truro mint to Exeter. Exeter was recaptured by the Parliamentarians on 9 Apr 1646.

The establishment of a mint at York was being planned long before the outbreak of formal hostilities. Coining began in Jan 1642/3 at the mint located in St. William's College in Minster Yard. The York coinage, in appearance the finest of the royalist issues, was produced by cylinder-presses. This is the only instance of this method being used in England for the production of a precious metal coinage. York lacked water power, so motive-power for its machines must have been provided by horses or man. Brute strength was required for the necessary mechanised processes and, having to be undertaken in a fairly confined space, may account for the fact that, alone of the early Royalist mints, York produced nothing larger than halfcrowns. Minting ceased in Mar 1643/4, shortly before the city was besieged by the armies of Lord Fairfax and the Scots.

Thomas Bushell made plans to re-open the mint at Shrewsbury and, in Jul 1643, he sent men to prepare the furnaces. Halfcrowns, some bearing the letters 'SA', have been attributed to the re-opened mint, SA possibly signifying Salopia, the Latin name for Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury had been a staunch Royalist stronghold since the outbreak of the Civil War and frequently served as a base of operations for Charles' skilled cavalry commander, Prince Rupert, the Duke of Cumberland. Such coins may very well have been struck to finance Rupert's 1644 campaign against the Parliamentarian forces in Northern England, which began with a muster of the Royalist army at Shrewsbury in May. Unfortunately, despite some initial successes, Rupert suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July, after which the North was completely lost to the Royalists. The Parliamentarian forces failed to immediately capitalise on their victory, however, and Shrewsbury remained a key Royalist supply depot until 22 Feb 1645, when a Parliamentary sympathiser in the town opened St. Mary's Water Gate (subsequently renamed Traitor's Gate) and permitted Parliamentarians to enter. The capture of Shrewsbury was a great coup for the Parliamentarian cause, as it brought the final defeat of Charles I much closer. In a similar vein, halfcrowns bearing the letter 'W' have been attributed to Worcester based on hoard evidence of where such coins have been found geographically. Due to the strategic position of Worcestershire for the Royalists in their struggle against the Parliamentarian forces in Birmingham, Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire, Worcester immediately had a military garrison imposed on it. The halfcrowns were probably struck to finance the garrison and the ongoing work to improve the town's fortifications as the Parliamentary noose was tightening. Following the major Parliamentarian victory at Stow-on-the-Wold on 21 Mar 1646, hope faded for the Royalist cause and Worcester was besieged finally surrendering on 23 Jul 1646. Smaller silver denominations from shillings down to half-groats have been given an attribution of Worcester or Salopia.

A declaration type halfcrown dated 1644 has a Welsh Marches attribution. The term Welsh Marches refers to the English counties that are along the border to Wales. The location could arguably be Hereford and struck in October. This would coincide with the recent arrival of Charles Gerard and his troops from the West Wales campaign. They subsequently spent the winter billeted around Hereford and Monmouth.

An halfcrown with the letters 'HC' in the lower garniture was initially given the attribution of Hartlebury Castle in Worcestershire, having been struck during the second siege of Worcester, 21 May to 23 Jul 1646.  Supposedly the mint was set up in the home of the Bishop of Worcester to provide currency to pay the garrison with the silver obtained from silver plate taken from the chapel. Hartlebury Castle is a bishop's palace, a moated house impossible to defend and clearly the attribution was suspect. Recently it has been postulated that 'HC' refers to Hawarden (Old) Castle that stood near Chester, as it has been demonstrated that the dies were subsequently used at Chester, giving a striking date during 1644. During the English Civil War, the castle changed hands several times and ended up in a ruinous state in Parliamentary hands.

In 1644, after the Royalist defeat at Marston Moor (west of York), Oxford came under attack for the first time in May, during which Charles escaped, thus preventing a formal siege. Cheshire, being a loyal county, was where the king came hither in 1644/5. The need for an emergency mint and for a supply of silver in this part of the country would be pressing, and possibly such a mint was already being organised in the late months of 1644. The city corporation passed a resolution on the 31 Jan 1644/5 to provide some of the city's ancient plate for conversion into coin no doubt augmented by contributions from the citizens. Chester had to endure a long siege soon afterwards. Lord Byron made a gallant defence for the Royalists, but early in Feb 1645/6 he had to surrender to the Parliamentarians under Sir William Brereton. The Chester mint could therefore no longer continue.

An halfcrown was issued in 1645 and is without an attribution. The obverse depicts the king on horseback, whilst the reverse is unique among the silver issues of Charles I as it shows the gartered arms with lion and unicorn supporters, a design normally seen on gold coinage. Hereford has been touted as the probable source.

After the fall of Bristol in Sep 1645, many of the Royalist garrison returned to Oxford. According to historical records, Ashby de la Zouch, in Leicestershire, was reinforced from Oxford on 24 Sep and held out until 28 Feb 1645/6. Consequently, coins bearing the letter 'A' have been attributed to Ashby. They are all the declaration type, dated 1645 and follow the Bristol style. A credible alternative would be Aberystwyth as it is recorded that, after the shutting down of the mint there in 1642, it was in operation again in Jan 1645/6, when 73lbs of silver was coined until the end of March, yet there is no mention of examples anywhere.

Following the fall of Ashby de la Zouch, the garrison then marched to Bridgnorth Castle which fell after a one-month siege on 26 Apr 1646, giving a two-month period of occupation by the Royalists. Coins bearing the letter 'B' are dated 1646 and have been attributed to Bridgnorth. The 'B' location employed at least 3 obverses, 5 reverses for the halfcrown; 2 obverses, 3 reverses for the shilling; 2 of each for the sixpence; 1 obverse, 2 reverses for the groat; 1 of each for both the threepence and half groat. Such a large number for a short period and strangely the 'B' coins are relatively common, whereas the 'A' issues are somewhat rare. Another dubious attribution. There was a large concentration of active Royalist forces in the west in 1646 at Raglan, near Abergavenny. Contemporary diary entries show Abergavenny was also known as Bergavenny.

The second siege of Oxford took place in May 1646, negotiations for the surrender of the city followed and it was handed over to Parliamentary troops at the end of June. Charles was captured in 1647 and held at several locations. His trial began on 20 Jan 1648/9 and continued for seven days. Accused of high treason and other 'high crimes' Charles was declared guilty and sentenced to death. His execution by beheading took place outside the Banqueting House at the Palace of Whitehall in London.

Due to the war damage at Aberystwyth Castle, a temporary mint was authorised at the silver mills at Furnace near River Dyfi (pronounced Dovey) in 1647 which eventually struck a small issue until Feb 1648/9, when production ceased following the execution of the king. These coins feature a crown initial mark.

Deeman

Aberystwyth Mint

The mint at Aberystwyth had its beginnings in July 1637 when Sir Thomas Bushell had the idea of coining at the source rather than sending the mined silver for coining to London and petitioned that it would stimulate the Welsh mining industry with predictions of increased output if the adits to drain water from the mines reached their capacity, and which could lead to other mines in England being used for coining in a similar fashion. The Mint in London was against the idea, but Charles asked for Bushell to visit and was persuaded by his charm to back him. The agreement to set up a mint in Aberystwyth Castle with the Crown taking a 10% share with overall supervision from the Warden of the Mint, Sir William Parkhurst. The Aberystwyth mint began striking coinage in 1637/8, the first account of production dating 21 Jan.

Bushell was authorised to coin the halfcrown (2/6), shilling, sixpence, twopence and penny from Welsh silver only, a commission in Oct 1637 adding the groat, threepence and halfpenny. The initial mark was an open book to readily identify coins that originated in Wales, apart from the halfpenny which had no initial mark but had a plume of ostrich feathers within a coronet as the obverse design. It was the only provincial mint to strike a halfpenny. All coins are undated and those struck in the nine months from Charles fleeing London to the Declaration of War (Jan-Sep) cannot readily be identified, therefore images shown apply to the full operational period at the castle mint.

Equipment from Aberystwyth was transferred to Shrewsbury for the establishment of a new mint. The subsequent diversion to Oxford of the supply of silver ingots may well have been the cause of the shutting down of the Welsh mint in Sep 1642. In Jan 1645/6, the mint was in production again for a period of three months only, during which time about 73 lbs. of coined metal were received from the workmen.

Deeman

Aberystwyth halfcrown

The obverse depicts the king on horseback holding sword in his right hand, sash behind and plume in field, within a circumscription translating to 'Charles, by the Grace of God, Great Britain, France and Ireland, king'. The reverse a garnished oval shield of the Royal Arms with precedence given to England, with large plume above. The first and fourth quarters have the lions of England arranged quarterly with the French lis (dating from the claim to the French throne made by Edward III in 1340), the lion of Scotland is in the second quarter and the harp of Ireland in the third. The circumscription is CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO, translating to 'I reign under the auspices of Christ.'





Undated Aberystwyth halfcrown, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRA ET HI REX, bandless plumes.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.





Undated Aberystwyth halfcrown, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRA ET HI REX, bandless plumes, ground line.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, squat plume.

Deeman

Aberystwyth shilling

The obverse depicts the crowned bust of the king left in lace collar and armour, plume in front, value 'XII' behind, with or without inner circle, within a circumscription translating to 'Charles, by the Grace of God, Great Britain, France and Ireland, king'. The reverse a garnished oval shield of the Royal Arms with precedence given to England, with large plume above, with or without inner circle. The first and fourth quarters have the lions of England arranged quarterly with the French lis (dating from the claim to the French throne made by Edward III in 1340), the lion of Scotland is in the second quarter and the harp of Ireland in the third. The circumscription is CHRISTO AUSPICE REGNO, translating to 'I reign under the auspices of Christ.'





Undated Aberystwyth shilling, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BR FR ET HI REX, small 'XII', no inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, no inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth shilling, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MAG' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, small 'XII', no inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth shilling, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MA' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, large 'XII', inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, inner circle, large shield.





Undated Aberystwyth shilling, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MA' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, large 'XII', inner circle, small narrow head.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, inner circle, large shield.

Deeman

Aberystwyth sixpence

The designs and inscriptions follow those of the shilling but with value 'VI' and with single or double-arched crown.





Undated Aberystwyth sixpence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MAG' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, double-arched crown, no inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, no inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth sixpence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MAG' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, single-arched crown, inner circle, large VI.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, no inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth sixpence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MAG' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, single-arched crown, inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth sixpence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' MAG' BR' FR' ET HI' REX, single-arched crown, inner circle, large 'VI'.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO, squat plume, inner circle.

Deeman

Aberystwyth groat

The designs and inscriptions follow those of the shilling but with value 'IIII' and all have inner circles.





Undated Aberystwyth groat, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G M B F ET H REX, large bust, crown breaks inner circle, no armour on shoulder.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.





Undated Aberystwyth groat, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' M' B' F' ET H' REX, large bust, crown breaks inner circle, armour on shoulder, shorter collar.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.





Undated Aberystwyth groat, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' M' B' F' ET H' REX, smaller bust.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.

Deeman

Aberystwyth threepence

The designs and inscriptions follow those of the shilling but with value 'III' and all have inner circles.





Undated Aberystwyth threepence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' M' B' FR' ET H' REX.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.





Undated Aberystwyth threepence, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG B F ET H REX, crown breaks inner circle.
Reverse inscription is CHRISTO AVSPICE REGNO.

Deeman

Aberystwyth half-groat

The obverse depicts the crowned bust of the king left, value 'II' behind, within a circumscription translating to 'Charles, by the Grace of God, Great Britain, France and Ireland, king'. The reverse has a large plume within a coronet with a circumscription of JUSTITIA THRONUM FIRMAT which translates to 'Justice strengthens the throne.'





Undated Aberystwyth half-groat, open book initial mark on reverse.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D' G' M' B' F' ET H' REX, no inner circle.
Reverse inscription is IVSTITIA THRONVM FIRMAT, no inner circle.





Undated Aberystwyth half-groat, open book initial mark on both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G M B F ET H REX, inner circle.
Reverse inscription is IVSTITIA THRONVM FIRMAT, inner circle.

Deeman

Aberystwyth penny

The designs and inscriptions follow the half-groat but with value 'I'.





Undated Aberystwyth penny, open book initial mark both sides.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G M B F ET H REX, beaded inner circle.
Reverse inscription is IVSTITIA THRONVM FIRMAT, beaded inner circle.

Deeman

Aberystwyth halfpenny

The obverse depicts a rose and the reverse has a plume with coronet. There are no inscriptions.





Undated Aberystwyth halfpenny.

Deeman

Shrewsbury Mint

On 21 Oct 1642 Charles directed Sir Thomas Bushell to remove the mint from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury. The Shrewsbury mint was active for less than three months, until the end of Dec when Charles moved his headquarters to Oxford, and the mint followed him reaching there on 3 Jan.

The only gold coin struck at Shrewsbury was the triple unite, value 60/-. Unite so named from the Union between England and Scotland in 1603.

The silver coins issued at Shrewsbury were the pound (20/-), half-pound (10/-), crown (5/-), halfcrown (2/6) and shilling. If coins of lower denomination were struck, they are indistinguishable from those of Aberystwyth. These coins have no particular mark to distinguish them from those coined at Oxford, but can be identified by inspection of the plumes from the coronet. On the Aberystwyth coins, with very few exceptions, the plumes have no bands. It is generally accepted that coins of 1642 which have bandless plumes on the obverse belong to Shrewsbury by way of distinguishing them from mules with Oxford banded plumes on the reverse. Obviously, the use of bandless plumes on both sides belong to Shrewsbury. Pellets were used in a variety of groups as initial marks.



Deeman

Shrewsbury triple unite

The triple-unite had a value of 60/- at a weight of 421.46 grains, 0.917 fine 'crown' gold (22ct). The obverse depicts the crowned half-length armoured figure of the king facing left, holding a sword in his right hand and an olive branch in his left, with plume in the field. The circumscription translates to 'Charles, by the Grace of God, Great Britain, France and Ireland, king'. The reverse has an abbreviation of the king's declaration to protect 'the religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament' (RELIG PROT LEG / ANG LIBER PAR) in two wavy lines, with value 'III' and three bandless plumes above, and date below, all within the circumscription EXURGAT DEUS ET DISSIPENTUR INIMICI which translates to 'Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered' (Psalms 68.1).





Picture from a book plate. 1642 dated Shrewsbury triple unite, no initial mark.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRAN ET HIBER REX.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, pellets flanking value.

Deeman

Shrewsbury pound

The obverse depicts the king on horseback to left, holding sword in his right hand, flowing sash behind, plume in field, within a circumscription translating to 'Charles, by the Grace of God, Great Britain, France and Ireland, king'. The reverse has an abbreviation of the king's declaration to protect 'the religion of the Protestants, the laws of England, the liberty of Parliament' (RELIG PROT LEG / ANG LIBER PAR) in two lines between ruled lines, with value 'XX' and normally three bandless plumes above, date below, all within the circumscription, starting at 9 o'clock, of EXURGAT DEUS ET DISSIPENTUR INIMICI which translates to 'Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered' (Psalms 68.1).





1642 dated Shrewsbury pound, 5-pellet initial mark.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRA ET HIB REX.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, pellet in declaration.





1642 dated Shrewsbury pound, 5-pellet initial mark.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRITAN FR ET HIB REX; horse over arms.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, pellet in declaration.





1642 dated Shrewsbury pound, no initial mark.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRAN ET HIB REX, horse over arms with cannon.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, one plume, pellets flanking value.

Deeman

Shrewsbury half-pound

The designs and inscriptions follow those of the pound, apart from the 'X' value.





1642 dated Shrewsbury half-pound, 9-pellet initial mark.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRI FRA ET HI REX.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI.





1642 dated Shrewsbury half-pound, 3-pellet initial mark on obverse.
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRAN ET HIB REX, ground line.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, pellets flanking value.





1642 dated Shrewsbury half-pound, bandless plume initial mark on obverse (precluded plume in field).
Obverse inscription is CAROLVS D G MAG BRIT FRAN ET HI REX, horse walking over arms, no plume in field.
Reverse inscription is EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI, pellets flanking value.