The Coinages of the Channel Islands
Lieutenant-Colonel B. Lowsley - 2009
General observations on coinages for the Channel Islands
Before treating of the Channel Islands coinages in detail, it may be of interest briefly to notice in order the various changes and the influences which led to these.
The earliest inhabitants of the islands of whom anything is known were contemporaneous with the ancient Britons of Druidical times. Jersey and Guernsey are still rich in Druidical remains. The Table-stone of the Cromlech at Gorey is 160 feet superficial, and the weight, as I have made it, after careful calculation, is about 233⁄4 tons. It rests on six upright stones, weighing, on an average, one ton each. In the very complete work recently edited by E. Toulmin Nicolle is the following interesting note:—
That traces of the old Northmen, which were once obscure, have now become clear and patent; that institutions, long deemed Roman, may be Scandinavian; that in blood and language there are many more foreign elements than were originally recognized, are the results of much well-applied learning and acumen. But no approximation to the proportion that these foreign elements bear to the remainder has been obtained; neither has the analysis of them gone much beyond the discovery of those which are referred to Scandinavia. Of the tribes on the mainland, those which in the time of Caesar and in the first four centuries of our era have the best claim to be considered as the remote ancestors of the early occupants of the islanders, are the Curiosilites, the Rhedones, the Osismii, the Lemovices, the Veneti, and the Unelli—all mentioned by Caesar himself, as well as by writers who came after him. A little later appear the names of the Abrincatui and the Bajucasses. All these are referable to some part of either Normandy or Brittany, and all seem to have been populations allied to each other in habits and politics. They all belonged to the tract which bore the name of Armorica, a word which in the Keltic means the same as Pomerania in Sclavonic—i.e., the country along the seaside.
All evidences that can be gathered would tend to prove that before the time of the Romans the Channel Islands were but thinly populated. There are no traces of decayed large towns nor records of pirate strongholds, and the conclusion is that the inhabitants were fishermen, and some living by hunting and crude tillage. The frequent Druidical remains show the religion which obtained. Any coins in use in those days would be Gaulish, of the types then circulated amongst the mainland tribes above named.
The writer of the foregoing notes considers that the earliest history of the Channel Islands is as follows (page 284):—
- At first the occupants were Bretons—few in number—pagan, and probably poor fishermen.
- Under the Romans a slight infusion of either Roman or Legionary blood may have taken place—more in Alderney than in Jersey—more in Jersey than in Sark.
- When the Litus Saxonicum was established, there may have been thereon lighthouses for the honest sailor, or small piratical holdings for the corsair, as the case might be. There were, however, no emporia or places either rich through the arts of peace, or formidable for the mechanism of war.
- When the Irish Church, under the school of St. Columbanus, was in its full missionary vigour, Irish missionaries preached the Gospel to the islanders, and amongst the missionaries and the islanders there may have been a few Saxons of the Litus.
- In the sixth century some portion of that mixture of Saxons, Danes, Chattuarii, Leti, Goths, Bretons, and Romanized Gauls, whom the Frank kings drove to the coasts, may have betaken themselves to the islands opposite.
To summarise—the elements of the population nearest the Channel Islands were:—(1) original Keltic; (2) Roman; (3) Legionary; (4) Saxon; (5) Gothic; (6) Letic; (7) Frank; (8) Vandal—all earlier than the time of Rollo, and most of them German; to which we may add, as a possible element, the Alans of Brittany.
That the soldiers of the Roman garrison were not necessarily Roman is suggested by the word "Legionary." Some of them are particularly stated to have been foreign. There is indeed special mention of the troop of cavalry from Dalmatia—"Equites Dalmatae.
The inference from the above, as regards coins current in the Channel Islands prior to the Norman conquest of England, would clearly be that, subsequent to the circulation of the first uninscribed Gaulish coins as imitated from the Phillippus types, there followed the well-struck Roman issues, which, in course of time, were superseded by the coinages used and introduced by later invaders and settlers.
British-struck coins of the Saxon kings are rarely found in the Channel Islands, the coins used at the Saxon period of England being doubtless drawn by these islands from Normandy and Brittany. There have never, so far as is known, been regal or state mints established in the Channel Islands, with the exception of the strange venture by Colonel Smyth in the reign of King Charles I., which will be fully noted in turn hereafter.
"Freluques" and "enseignes" also perhaps appear to have been struck in Guernsey, and a few copper tokens, as will be described, were introduced by banks and firms. But from the time of the Romans until the present century, French and other foreign money has been imported, and formed the recognized currency.
The earliest coins of the Channel Islands
As referred to in the preceding general notes, the earliest coins known to have been in use in the Channel Islands are of the same types as used at the time on the near coast of France. They are styled Gaulish, and are generally of the following description:—
O. Sinister head in profile; nose, lips, eyes, and ears expressed by duplicate lines; tracery or ornamentation in front of the face, and profuse rolls of curling hair.
R. Figure of a horse, extravagantly drawn and decorated, and with ornaments or gear of some kind above and below. Often the mane of the horse is arranged and curled, as if specially so dressed for parade or show, and almost suggests decorations as still sometimes adopted by American Indian or other barbarian chiefs. There are reins, too, in some instances, and these are sometimes held by a rough representation of an arm and hand. The legs of the horse always indicate gallopping. The symbols underneath it are usually either (1) the wild boar, as perhaps indicative of the most important local wild beast in the chase; (2) the chariot wheel, as representing that the horse would draw this vehicle, there not being room to show the whole on the coin fully and in rear of the horse; (3) the implement described by Sir John Evans as a "lyre-shaped object." It would be most interesting to ascertain what this instrument—which is frequently delineated—may really be. It might be a musical production of the bagpipe character, or a head-dress, or a warlike weapon. An extensive museum or collection of very ancient implements should solve the problem.
As regards the metal of which the coins are made, Sir John Evans, at page 128 of his work, states as follows:—
These coins are formed of billon or base silver, which appears to vary considerably in the amount of its alloy. From an analysis made by De Caylus (Donop. Médailles Gallo Gäeliques, page 24) of two coins, their compositions were found to be as follows:—
The weight of the larger pieces ranges from 80 to 105 grains, and that of the smaller coins is about 25 grains.
It will be observed from the above analysis how considerably the proportions of the white metals, as silver and tin, vary in these coins, and this variation, as regards metallic composition, is so universal that amongst a large number in the same "find" you will even, on cleaning the coins, see some of them look as if made of silver, and the colour vary, until you reach some that appear hardly better than wholly of copper. It would be very interesting to know where the metal or ore for these coinages was procured from. There must have been a natural mixture of most of the metals.
I have looked through a "find" of more than 200 Jersey Gaulish coins, which are in the possession of R. R. Lemprière, Esq. They were turned up by the plough on his manor of Rozel; and whatever covering had enclosed them had either gone to decay, or become broken up, as they were quite loose. He had cleaned a few of them. Even to the eye the metallic composition varied greatly—some being of the colour of silver, and some lowering to that of copper. In this lot there were but two of the smaller size of 25 grains, and I think that proportion may perhaps give some indication as to the relative rarity of the two coins; for at a rough estimate one seems to meet only about one in a hundred, which is of the smaller kind. The larger Gaulish coins are common; large "finds" of the types formerly used in the Channel Islands having been made on the adjacent mainland of Normandy and Brittany, and also on the south coast of England.
Sir John Evans mentions (page 128) the hoard at Mount Batten, near Plymouth (Numismatic Journal, Vol. I., page 224), and that in the Arch. Assoc. Journal, Vol. III., page 62, is an account of a find of them at Avranches, written by Mr. C. Roach Smith; also in 1820 nearly 1,000 were discovered in Jersey; and previously, in 1787, there had been a find in that island. The manor of Rozel seems to have been most rich in furnishing specimens. In addition to the number in possession of the seigneur of Rozel, as before referred to, there are from that district of the island collections at the St. Helier Museum, and with Lady Marett, Wm. Nicolle, Esq., Dr. Le Cronier, E. C. Cable, Esq., and others.
They are often turned up in agricultural work, and many farmers possess a few, but will not part with them, nor with their stone or bronze spear-heads, arrow-heads, axe-heads, and jars, as there is often some superstition that it is unlucky to let these be sold away from the neighbourhood where they were dug up.
Full descriptions of some "finds" are given in the annual issues of the Société Jersiaise, together with illustrations. The illustrations differ little as regards the types shown from those given in the works of Evans and Hawkins. There is, however, one point to be observed that is interesting and noteworthy—i.e., Gaulish and Roman coins have been found enclosed together in the same urn, thus indicating that the two coinages had concurrently come into the possession of the same person before being hidden. This appears proof of concurrent circulation. The small urn found by Mr. George Amy, of Rozel, close to the spot where the landslip occurred in 1875, is in the Jersey Museum. It is, of course, hand-made pottery, and burnt nearly black. It contained both Gaulish and Roman coins—the former, both of billon and silver, being mainly of the smaller or more rare sort, and each weighing only from 18 to 28 grains. The urn was a small one, the top having been covered by a flat stone, with a larger stone keeping this down in its place.
By consideration of the metal values of Gaulish and Roman coins turned up in the same "find," we might arrive at the relative current values as regulated and assigned at the period.
Roman coins in the Channel Islands
After conquest and occupation by the Romans, the Gaulish currency, as well as that of ancient Britain, was superseded by Roman issues. Mr. Edward Hawkins, in his standard work on the Silver Coins of England (page 22), tersely and precisely explains what happened in England; and the Channel Islands came within the same provisions and action.
It is natural to suppose that when the Roman power had become established in Britain, the ordinary money of that empire would form the general circulation of this country, and that British money would be for the most part, if not entirely, superseded. Gildas asserts that an edict was actually issued and enforced, ordaining that all money current in this island should bear the image and superscription of the Roman Emperor; and the circumstance of Roman coins being almost daily turned up in every part of the country amply confirms his statement. It is quite unnecessary to enter here into any description of that money, as it is perfectly well known to everyone, and numerous treatises and descriptions of it have been published in all languages.
Just as stated above, it would be but going over ground already thoroughly well trodden to treat of the different Roman coins discovered in the Channel islands. They are similar to those which have come to light on the south coast of England and in Normandy and Brittany. I will, however, append at length the following note from William Nicolle, Esq., Jurat, of Bosville, King's Cliff, Jersey, who has favoured me with particulars of Roman coins found in Jersey, and now in his possession:—
The Roman coins in my possession are 342 in number, and form part of a find which was made in February, 1848, in the district of 'Les Quenvais,' in the parish of St. Brelade's, Jersey. They were described in a paper which was contributed to the Worcester Congress in the summer of 1848, by the late Mr. F. C. Lukis, F.S.A., the eminent Guernsey archaeologist, and which was published in the 'Journal of the Archaeological Association,' Vol. IV., page 272.
Mr. Lukis says:—'By a series of sections the accumulation of sand in Les Quenvais bears marks of several inundations, quite distinct in their appearance, and varying somewhat in their directions. The soil and clay beneath this sandy mass exhibit Roman vestiges of pottery and other articles, so that we cannot be far wrong in attributing the change in this supposed fertile district to a period not far removed from the Roman subjugation of western Europe. Fragments of Roman pottery from beneath the sandy hillocks of Les Quenvais, in the possession of Col. Le Couteur, of Jersey, Aide-de-camp to Her Majesty, present indubitable marks of the possession of this district by those conquerors. And, as if a further proof were wanting, in February last a jar of coarse earthenware, which contained 400 brass coins in excellent state of preservation, was dug out from the substratum, where it may have been lodged at the time of the Roman occupation of Jersey.'
Mr. Lukis then proceeds to describe at length the different varieties of coins in this find under the respective emperors, though his details are not always correct.
Of the 342 brass coins in my possession 208 are coins of Constantine the Great, or his son, 86 of Licinius, 16 of Maximinus, 14 of Maxentius, 11 of Maximianus, and 7 of Constantius Chlorus.
Two emperors had the common name of Maximianus. The elder reigned from 286 to 310, and the younger from 305 to 311. Of the 11 coins of these emperors, there are 7 of the elder and 4 of the younger. The first bear on the obverse the legend D. N. Maximiano P. F. S. Aug., and the second the words Imp. C. Val. Maximianus P. F. Aug.
Constantius I., or Constantius Chlorus, reigned one year, from the first of May, 305, to July 25th, 306, when he died at Eboracum, now York. During the whole of this period he remained in Gaul and Britain. The 7 coins of this emperor are all of the same mintage. An exact facsimile of them is given on page 262 of Stevenson's 'Dictionary of Roman Coins,' with the slight difference that in the exergue the letters are P. L. N. instead of P. T. R.
Constantine the Great reigned from 306 to 337. He was the son of Constantius Chlorus, and was with him at Eboracum at the time of his death, and there assumed the purple. His son, Constantius II., or Junior, was named Caesar by his father in 317, and died in 340. There is no proper criterion by which to distinguish the coins of these two emperors. Of the 208 coins of Constantine in my collection there are about 30 varieties.
Maximinus II. reigned from 305 to 313; Maxentius from 306 to 312; and Licinius from 307 to 324.
It is probable that all, or almost all, the 342 coins of this collection were minted during the first quarter of the 4th century—in fact, during the ten years between A.D. 305 and 315."
On early imported coins and their values
In preceding "General Observations on Coinages for the Channel Islands," I have noted that from the time of the Romans the currency continued to be by introduced or foreign coins. Naturally enough, the islanders would have only to do with coins which would be accepted by those on the neighbouring mainland with whom they had commercial transactions. There was not sufficient interior traffic to make requisite any local coinage of their own.
It would be uninteresting and of no practical utility to treat in detail of coins thus imported for temporary and outside, as well as home, convenience and necessity, but I will now give notes and extracts which will, I believe, clearly indicate the nature of currency arrangements which obtained from the days of the early kings of England.
I am indebted to Le Quesne's "History of Jersey" for interesting information recorded of the coinages and currency of that island, and to the Rev. G. E. Lee for the Guernsey records. The original states documents from which these particulars were collated are still preserved. The denominations of coins officially in use at various periods appear thereby.
An order of King John, dated 25th March, 1208, directs the Exchequer to reckon to the bailiffs of Southampton twenty sols which they paid for a ship in which Stephen de Oxford sailed to Guernsey and Jersey by order of the king."—Le Quesne, page 476.
Orders from the English Crown in the early part of the 13th century specified coins as follows for payment in Jersey:—An order from King John of the 11th of November, 1212, directed that the Treasury should pay to Philip d'Albigny, going to the island of Jersey, of which Hasculfus de Soligny was governor, 40 marks for fortifying the island."—Le Quesne, page 476.
In the 8th year of the reign of King Henry III., 1224, there was an order on the Treasury to deliver to the Governor of Jersey, Galpidus de Lucy, 400 livres for the payment of eight knights, each knight to receive two solidos per diem; for the pay of thirty-five cavalry soldiers, each to receive twelve deniers per diem; and for the pay of sixty foot soldiers, each to receive seven deniers per diem."—Le Quesne, page 476.
There were also similar grants in the two following years.
The only direct tax which the Dukes of Normandy had the right to levy was called moneyage, or fouage, or hearth money. From the Extent of the Royal Revenue in Jersey, prepared by Commissioners in the year 1331, this tax was also due to the Crown in Jersey. It was to be levied every three years, and consisted of 12 deniers, or one sol, for every hearth in the Duchy."—Le Quesne, page 79.
There is a valuable Extent of the Royal Revenues in Jersey drawn up in the year 1331 by Robert de Norton and William de la Rue, commissioners specially appointed for the purpose. In this Extent we find that William de Barentin held the manor and fief of Rozel by homage; that this fief owed sixty sols one denier relief; and that whenever the King of England paid a visit to this island, the seigneur of this fief was bound to meet his sovereign on horseback in the sea, to the depth of the girths of the saddle; and during the residence of the king in Jersey he was to be his butler, and to enjoy the known emoluments of that office. The seigneur de Rozel, as also all the other seigneurs holding in capite, owed suite de cour at the chief pleas of the Royal Court, as they do still to this day. For the fief de Meleches and other fiefs, held by Geffray de Carteret, there was due annually, by the seigneur to the Crown, the sum of forty livres one sol. The fief de Meleches reverted to the Crown as an escheat from Thomas Pinel, in the time of King John, and was granted by Edward III. to Renault de Cartaret, father of the then holder. The fief and manor of St. Ouen was held by Renault de Carteret by homage; and the relief, when due, was nine livres. The seigneur of this fief was bound to serve the king, in time of war, at Gouray Castle, at his own expense, for the term of two parts of forty days, and had to provide horses and armour. The wardship of this fief and manor, during the minority of the seigneur, was in the Crown. The manor and fief of Saumarez was held by homage by William de St. Hillaire, and owed, as relief, the sum of ten livres. The seigneur of the fief des Augrès was in the hands of William Bras de Fer; and he had to meet the king, when he arrived in Jersey, on horseback, to the girths of his saddle, in the sea; and the fief owed, as relief, the sum of seven livres. Besides the services due by the fiefs de haubert, we find that a great number of persons owed stated sums annually to the Crown for the lands held by them. The names of the persons are mentioned, together with the quantity of land, for which a fixed annual sum was due. For instance, several persons owed for a bovata of land the sum of eight sols annually. This was the usual amount; but we find that in some cases the charge was six sols, seven sols, nine sols, ten sols, and in a few cases as low as three sols. The bovata terrae is the same as an oxgauge or an oxgate of land, or as much as an ox can till; but being a compound word, it may contain meadow, pasture, and wood necessary for such tillage.
Raulin le François owed for forty-two acres of land—twelve in Trinity parish, and thirty in that of St. Laurens—an annual dinner to the king at Michaelmas, which was, however, partaken by the bailli, the vicomte, and the clerk of the king. This dinner could be commuted for the payment of twelve deniers, which does not raise any extravagant notions of the style of living in those days. The abbot of St. Saviour's, however, for the priory of Bonnenuit, owed to the king annually an apparently better dinner, for it was estimated at eleven sols. There were also due to the Crown, as there are still to this day, by various persons, a quantity of geese, fowls, eggs, and chickens. The tenants of the Crown had various personal services to perform, such as carting the wine, hay, and wood belonging to the king, and keeping the royal mills in repair. The right of wardship, usually considered as incidental to feudal tenures, does not appear to have obtained in Jersey, except in the case of St. Ouen's manor. The right of marriage, or maritagium, which was accompanied in some cases with considerable hardships, does not appear to have prevailed or to have been exercised in this island. This claim, when admitted, was often the source of large fines paid by individuals to the Crown, and of much vexation and tyranny."—Le Quesne, page 82.
In a grant of Sir Richard Harliston, dated 15th September, 1479, there is mention of both corn and money rents—the former to the amount of 8 qrs., 7 cabots, 2 sexrs., and the latter to 12 groats, 13 sous, 6 deniers. The grant was for services rendered during the siege for the recovery of Mount Orgueil Castle."—Le Quesne, page 125.
On the 26th of January, 1534, the value of the current coinage was regulated, and the same thing took place about this time as regards coins in Guernsey."—Le Quesne, page 191.
On the 20th February, 1561, the price of cider in Jersey was fixed at one Esterlin the Pot; and the brewers were ordered to make beer (servoise) for the use of the sick, the price of which was to be fixed by the constables and principal parishioners."—Le Quesne, page 192.
In the reign of King James I., under date the 20th July, 1607, a commission was appointed, under presidency of Sir Robert Gardiner, knight, for the determination of differences in Jersey; it also had scope as regards Guernsey.
The first article of complaint by the governor was relative to the value of the French coins. At these times there was very little, if any, English coin in circulation, and there was, strictly speaking, no fixed standard of value in Jersey. The livre tournois could scarcely be called a standard of value, and yet it was that by which the market price of commodities was known. It was the ideal currency of the island, that in which accounts were kept. The actual current money was French; and any variation in its value compared to the livre tournois would have, of course, to be regulated in Jersey.
Any change in the value or denomination of coins is attended with serious inconveniences, and it may, in some cases, be highly injurious to a large class of the community. This is more likely to be the case when the coins of two countries are adopted; when two different currencies are in circulation; when any variation in the value of the coins of one of these countries takes place, and the relative value, owing to that change, has to be ascertained and determined by a legislative or administrative body. Great caution is required in these matters; and, at a later period, the greatest discontent was caused in Jersey, and even a riot ensued, from an alteration in the value of the currency.
The States of Jersey, a few years before the arrival of the commissioners, perceiving that the King of France had altered and advanced his several coins, established what they considered an equivalent value between these coins and the moneys in Jersey after the old rates. The difference was about seven per cent. The French crown was advanced to four sous more, the guardesen from fifteen sous to sixteen sous, the teston from fourteen sous and a half to fifteen sous and a half, and the franc from twenty sous to twenty-one sous four deniers tournois. The only money in circulation was French; and the governor claimed the payments due to the Crown in moneys at the old rate. The commissioners were of a different opinion; they said that it would be no prejudice to his Majesty or to the governor if the moneys were received after the new advancements or alteration; and besides, it would be a great contentment to the people of the island to pay the same after the rate or value at which they had received it; but as the commissioners considered that it was a prerogative of the Crown to diminish, alter, or advance any moneys current among his own subjects, they ordered that the relative value of the moneys should continue as regulated by the States, 'until his Majesty's pleasure be known what other course and order in times to come shall be held and kept therein.' This decision of the commissioners was confirmed by the lords; but it is added in the Order, 'that in time to come, because it is a prerogative of his Majesty, and only appertaineth to royal right, to diminish, alter, or advance any moneys current among his subjects, we require that this be not until his Majesty's express consent be thereunto first had and obtained.'"—Le Quesne, page 225.
The following two interesting extracts are from "Charles the Second in the Channel Islands," by S. Elliott Hoskins.
The Prince of Wales, driven out of England without resources, having nevertheless, at his own cost, to maintain soldiers and sailors; to provide for a host of needy followers; to build fortifications for his protection; and to defray the travelling expenses of the numerous messengers going and coming from all parts, was reduced to great straits at this period. Jersey could supply him but inadequately, and from France he could obtain but slender and uncertain assistance. In order, therefore, to improve the state of his finances, and in some measure to provide for current expenses, it was resolved, at the recommendation of the council, that an establishment for coining bullion should at once be set up. A house was accordingly hired in Trinity parish, Jersey, from one Michael le Guerdain, which was speedily fitted up with furnaces for fusing the precious metals, and with presses and dies for striking and stamping coin, under the direction and superintendence of one Colonel Smith, who was appointed Master of the Mint.
Chevalier goes on to state that the money herein coined consisted chiefly of pieces resembling English half-crowns, which passed current at thirty sous each. The obverse of these pieces, called St. Georges, was stamped with an effigy of the king on horseback holding a drawn sword in his hand; and the reverse impressed with roses and harps, proper to the royal arms, interlaced with fillets, crosses, and other devices. Some shillings were likewise coined, and besides these a small number of Jacobuses, said to be worth twenty shillings apiece."—Hoskins, Vol. I., page 416.
Our journalist reverts to the subject of the mint set up in Jersey some twelvemonths before, which at that time promised to become a profitable financial speculation. The manager, Colonel Smyth, he informs us, originally a landed proprietor, and a man of good family in England, had been, before the troubles, master of one of his Majesty's provincial mints, and by virtue of his office an honorary privy councillor. On the breaking out of the civil war he commanded a regiment in the king's service, but, at its termination, fled with hundreds of others into France, from whence he came to Jersey, with his wife and a large train of domestics, during the Prince of Wales's sojourn in that island. Being desirous of exercising his former profession, and, moreover, provided with dies and other coining implements, he succeeded in establishing a mint under his royal highness's sanction and the countenance of the governor, but not, as we shall see, under the patronage of the chancellor of the exchequer.
In a few months the concern turned out to be an utter failure—partly owing to mismanagement, partly to an alleged scarcity of bullion. Smyth, a person of expensive habits, who kept up an extravagant private establishment, becoming deeply involved, was forced to dispose not only of his household goods, but of the greater part of his machinery, reserving merely the dies he had brought over with him. Towards the end of May he again sought refuge in France, intending, as he said, to send his wife into England to compound for his sequestered estates.
Chevalier, although he admits that Colonel Smyth, 'étant à Jersey, fit de la monnoie de quoi je ne dis rien,' is a firm believer in the actual existence of a mint from whence were issued coins of gold and silver of legal tender. Misled by his assertions—on all other subjects rigidly accurate—we confidently bestowed considerable time and industry in seeking to obtain specimens of the St. Georges, jacobuses, half-crowns, and shillings, so minutely described, and alleged to have been struck in Jersey. The perusal, however, of the subjoined letter dissipated the illusion—proved that the mint was a Mississippi Scheme, a South Sea Bubble on a small scale, and that the master thereof was little better than a swindling adventurer—thus accounting for the non-existence of the coinage in any numismatic collection:—
I will tell you a tale, of which it may be you may know somewhat; if you do not, take no notice of it from me. When we were in Cornwall, Colonel Smyth (who was Sir Alexander Denton's son-in-law, and taken in that house), having obtained his liberty by J. Ashburnham's friendship upon such an exchange (one of the councillors of Ireland) as would have redeemed the best man, came to us from the king at Hereford. To me he brought a short perfunctory letter from my lord Digby, but from J. A. to my lord Culpeper his dispatch was of weight; his business, to erect a mint at Truro, which should yield the king a vast profit; Mr. Browne, J. A.'s man (who was long a prisoner with him) (sic); the king's dues, by a special warrant (which I saw), to be paid to Mr. Ashburnham.
What he did in Cornwall I know not, for you perceive he was to have no relation or reference to me, which, if you had been Chancellor of the Exchequer, you would have taken unkindly. Shortly after the Prince came hither he came to us, having left Cornwall a fortnight before we did. You may imagine my lord Culpeper was forward to help him, and how he promised to set up his mint, and assured us that he had contracted with merchants at St. Malloe to bring in such a quantity of bullion as would make the revenue very considerable to the Prince. We wondered why the merchants of St. Malloe should desire to have English money coined. He gave us an answer that appeared very reasonable: that all the trade they drove with the west country for tin, fish, or wool, was driven with money; and therefore they sent over their pistoles and pieces-of-eight, in which they sustained so great a loss that their merchants had rather have this bullion coined into English money at 20 in the hundred than take the other way.
After several debates, in which (though there seemed no convincing argument to expect great profit from it) there was not the least suggestion of inconvenience, he pretending that he had all officers ready at St. Malloe, and such as belonged to the King's mint, and likewise his commission under the great seal (for he produced only the warrant under the sign-manual), the Prince writ a letter to the Governor, Bailiff, and Jurats to give him countenance, and to assign him some convenient place to reside in. Shortly after the Prince went away, the Colonel proceeds, brings his wife hither (who in truth is a sober woman) and takes a little house remote from neighbours, but pretended that the Prince's remove and other accidents had hindered the advance of the service, but that he hoped hereafter to proceed in it. Here he lived soberly and reservedly; and after two or three months here was found much adulterated money—half-crown pieces which had been put off by people belonging to him. One only officer he hath, an old Catholic, one Vaughan, who is a good graver.
The Governor (who is strangely civil to all men, but immoderately so to such gentlemen as have seemed to serve the King in this quarrel) was much perplexed, the civil magistrates here taking notice of it (the base money), and sent to him to speak with him; told him that he believed his education had not been to such artifices, and that he might be easily deceived by the man he trusted, who was not of credit enough to brave the burthen of such a trust; that if this island fell into suspicion of such craft, their trade would be undone; and therefore (having showed him some pieces of money) desired him by no means to proceed in that design, till satisfaction might be given by the view of such officers who were responsible for it. The Colonel denied some of the pieces to be of his coining, but confessed others, and said it was by mistake too light; but I had forgot to tell you that he had assured me, two or three days before, that he had yet coined none.
To conclude (though much troubled), he promised the Governor not to proceed further in it. Then he came to me, and told me a long and untoward discourse of a great trust between the King, Mr. Ashburnham and himself, and one more, which he would not name, but led me to believe it was Mr. A.'s friend at Paris, and that the design was originally to coin dollars, by which he could gain a vast advantage to the King. He found me not so civil as he expected, and therefore easily withdrew, and the same day attempted the Governor, and offered him a strong weekly bribe (enough to keep you and me and both our families very gallantly) to join with him and assist him. His reception was not much better there, so that he has since procured a good stout letter from the Prince to command the Governor, Bailiff, and Jurats to give him all countenance, and to advance the service. This will put an end to it, for the Governor will deal freely with the Prince, though upon the confidence we have still naughty new money. The reason of the Governor's exceeding tenderness is his duty to the King, to whom such a communion (which indeed is a strange one) would draw much dishonour. Tell me if you know anything of this, and whether you think your friend so wise, and careful of his master's honour as he should be; beyond this say nothing of it, except to my lord Hopton, who can tell you how scurvy a thing it is.
There is some discrepancy between this account of the affair and Chevalier's; not so much, however, considering that one writer was before, while the other was behind the scenes. The two narratives combined complete the history of the Jersey mint—a history evidently discreditable to certain personages, and therefore never intended to meet the public eye. Even the unsophisticated chronicler is intuitively aware that some mystery attaches to the transaction, which prevents him from writing with his usual unreserve."—Hoskins, Vol. II., page 138.
In 1646, men of the Jersey Militia each received 5 sols per diem on Field days."—Le Quesne, page 486.
A great improvement was effected in the organisation of the militia by Sir Thomas Morgan. He divided the militia into regiments, and remodelled the artillery. On his proposition, in order to compel the men to attend with regularity to their military duties, so essential for the preservation of the island, the States, on the 25th September, 1666, ordered that fines should be levied by the vingteniers for all defaults in the following proportions:—
It is an indication of the little traffic of the Island that payments were usually made in liards—small copper coins of the value of one-eighth of a penny. There are acts of the States passed at different periods alluding to the scarcity of money. According to the prevalent notions of those times, and of a much later period, one chief object of commercial legislation was to keep as much money or actual coin in the country as possible; and the balance of trade was to be so regulated as to insure this result. The exportation of coin has therefore, in various countries, been occasionally prohibited under severe penalties. The same notions existed in Jersey, and it was equally believed that coin or money could be retained, and should be retained, by legislative enactments. We find an act of the States, of the 3rd of October, 1701, forbidding all persons to take or send out of the Island to foreign countries any gold, silver, or other coin, to a larger amount than thirty livres tournois at a time, on pain of confiscation of the money, besides a fine; and, in addition to this penalty, confiscation of the vessel on board of which such moneys should be found, and three months' imprisonment of the master and crew. This prohibition did not produce the results anticipated by the States; for we find them, on the 9th of April, 1720, complaining that, although the sending out of the Island of gold and silver was forbidden, yet very little remained in the Island. They could not understand that if a profit or benefit was to be derived in the purchase of commodities or provisions in France with actual money, such money would unavoidably find its way there. Coins, being in fact merchandise, will follow the same rules of exchange, and will be attracted to those parts where they bear a greater exchangeable or market value. The actual value of a coin in currency must be that of its intrinsic value; and if temporary circumstances cause it to bear a greater value elsewhere, thither it will tend, till the balance is restored, in defiance of any attempts to arrest its progress.
A commissioned officer sixty sols. A cavalry soldier thirty sols. A private soldier, with musket (mousquetaire) twelve sols. A private soldier, with halbert or staff (halbarde ou baston) eight sols."
The ill-success of the States, in their prohibition of the exportation of gold and silver coin, did not lead them to perceive the futility of the measure; but they were fearful that the copper money, the sous and the liards, would follow their betters, particularly as sous and liards had risen in value in France, and that thus the Island would be deprived of all metallic circulation. They therefore, on the 9th of April, 1720, prohibited the carrying out of the Island of liards and sous to a larger amount than five livres tournois for each person, under the penalty of confiscation; and all persons were authorised to seize the moneys thus exported, and to require the assistance, if necessary, of the constables and centeniers in the searching of the vessels; while the master and crews on board of which such sums should be found, if cognizant of the fact, were to be liable to a fine and an imprisonment of three months.
By an act of the States of the 3rd of May, 1720, it appears that there was no longer any gold or silver in circulation: it had disappeared, having been sent out of the Island; and the only metallic currency remaining was that of liards, which it was probable would also disappear. The States, in consequence, found it impossible to repay the sums which had been generously lent, without interest, by individuals, for the works at the harbour; and in order to obtain a supply which was to enable them to pay their debts, and to avoid the loss accruing from the variable market value of the coins, they resolved on the adoption of a plan which could only increase the evil, and perpetuate the banishment of gold and silver coin. The States evidently confused the want of funds with the want of metallic money; for had they possessed the former, the latter would have been forthcoming. An easy mode of creating money, according to them, which was to enable them to pay their debts, without any detriment or cost to anybody (sans qu'il n'en co&ucric;te rien à personne), and to build the harbour without any expense to the Island, was by the issue of a paper currency, from the circulation of which the public were to derive much benefit, and which, besides, would not be liable to fluctuation in value. They seemed not to be aware that a paper currency must be based on a metallic one; that it must represent, and be exchangeable for, a metallic currency, and therefore must follow the fluctuations of the latter in value; since, if not exchangeable, at the option of the bearer, for metallic value, it at once becomes depreciated, and drives from circulation the metallic currency by which it is designated. The lower the value of the notes, or paper currency, the greater will become the scarcity of the coin. Such would naturally be the result of the enactment of the States, for they decided on issuing notes of a very low value. For instance, there were to be
- 2,000 twenty sous
- 1,000 thirty sous
- 1,000 sixty sous
- 1,000 one hundred sous
- 750 ten livres
- 500 twenty livres
- 300 thirty livres
- 240 fifty livres
The aggregate amount of these notes was fifty thousand livres.
The scarcity of gold and silver continued; and the States, on the 21st of December, 1725, declared that the only metallic currency in circulation was liards or deniers. They had on previous occasions prohibited the exportation of this copper money; they now forbade its importation, under pain of confiscation. In the following year, perceiving no doubt the futility of their enactments, they allowed, by their act dated the 19th of September, 1726, a free trade in liards—the free importation and exportation of this coin. On the same day they appointed a committee from their body to prepare a representation to his Majesty in Council, on the subject of the relative value of the coins in circulation in the Island. This representation was adopted by the States on the 25th of November, 1726. The ulterior sanction by Council of the recommendation of the States was the occasion of serious commotions and discontent in the Island. The avowed object of the States in their request to the Crown was to prevent the exportation of gold and silver coin from the Island, and to encourage the exportation of liards to France, which they asserted passed in Jersey above their intrinsic value, and with which they were very much burdened—reasons among the very worst which could be given, or upon which a legislative enactment could be based.
An Order in Council, dated the 22nd of May, 1729, was issued, approving of the proposed alterations in the currency by the States; and it was accordingly ordered:—
That the French silver coins be current in the said Island only according to their intrinsic value, in proportion to the British crown-piece.
That the British crown-piece do continue at seventy-one sols; the half-crown at thirty-five sols and a half; the shilling at fourteen sols; and the sixpence at seven sols.
That the French liards be reduced to their old value of two deniers each; and that the British half-pence be current for seven deniers; and the farthing for three and a half. And his Majesty doth hereby further order that the said coins do pass in all manner of payments, according to the said rates; but that this order shall not take effect till the expiration of six calendar months from the date thereof; and to the end that no person may pretend ignorance hereof, the bailiff and jurats of his Majesty's said Island of Jersey are to cause this order to be forthwith published, and to take care that it be executed according to the tenor thereof.
The act of the States and the Order in Council were, to say the least of them, highly injudicious. The only coin apparently in circulation was the liard, and the accounts were kept in livres and sous. The proportion between the sol and the livre remained unchanged; but it followed, from the new law, that if a person did not meet his liabilities within the specified time of six months, his debts were consequently increased fifty per cent. if he had to pay them in liards; and he could pay them apparently in no other coin. The value of the sol relative to the liard was raised fifty per cent.; that is, six liards were to be estimated as equivalent to one sol, instead of four liards as heretofore. Now, on what grounds could the States establish this great difference, when it did not exist in reality? We ascertain positively by an act of the States of the 21st of December, 1725, that the real exchangeable difference between the liards, at their estimated value of four to a sol, and gold and silver coin, was only twelve per cent. in favour of the latter. The rate of exchange between countries is not dependent on or regulated by any legislative authority, however despotic or absolute it may be, but is regulated by the real intrinsic relative value of the coins in circulation in the two countries; and hence the rate of exchange, compared with the par of exchange, will show the depreciation sustained by the circulating medium of a country; for the difference between the par and the rate of exchange should in ordinary circumstances not exceed the cost of transmission of the precious metals from one country to the other. Now, by an act of the States of the 21st of December, 1725, we learn that they were indebted to a merchant at St. Malo for the proceeds of the sale of a cargo of wheat, which had been taken possession of and sold to the people by the States, at a time of great scarcity in the Island. They had remitted a portion of the amount; but there remained a balance due of 3,332 livres tournois, which Mr. Patriarche had engaged to remit to St. Malo. The States ordered that this amount should be paid to Mr. Patriarche by the deputy viscount in liards, thus incidentally proving that there was in reality no other coin in circulation; but as Mr. Patriarche had to pay the amount to the merchant at St. Malo in gold and silver, and as these bore a premium compared to liards, the loss, or rather the amount of the premium, had of course to be made good by the States; and they accordingly ordered that that difference, amounting to 416 livres ten sous, should be raised by rate on the parishes, and placed in the hands of the deputy viscount, for payment to Mr. Patriarche. We are thus enabled satisfactorily to ascertain the real comparative difference between the value of the liard and other metallic currency, or, in other words, the premium which the latter bore compared with the copper currency, at the rate of four liards to the sol. By a calculation on the data thus furnished, we find the difference to be precisely twelve per cent. in favour of gold and silver; and we are also to bear in mind that the great scarcity of gold and silver would of course add to the premium. By the Order in Council the difference was to be established at fifty per cent.
The States soon perceived that they had either committed a great mistake or that they must yield to public opinion, which was strongly and decidedly opposed to the change ordered. They accordingly, on the 20th of December, 1729, petitioned his Majesty in Council for the recall of the Order in Council, being apprehensive that the said regulations would not answer the ends they at first expected from them. The States, on the 24th of April, 1730, named a deputy in support of their petition. Counsel were heard by the committee of the Privy Council for the States, and also for several members of the States and others who opposed the petition of the States; but the opinion of the committee was, that the Order in Council regulating the currency ought not to be suspended or revoked, but carried into execution. His Majesty in Council, therefore, on the 9th of July, 1730, ordered that the said Order in Council of the 22nd of May, 1729, be carried into execution: but that during the term of six months from the date hereof all creditors in the said Island do receive their debts, if tendered to them at the rate at which the coins went current immediately before making the aforesaid Order in Council; and, in case of refusal, that such creditors do forfeit one-third of their debts to the benefit of the debtors.
In 1774, in France, from whence the small change for the Channel Islands was being obtained, the sou was equivalent to twelve deniers, the double-liard or half-sou to six deniers, and the liard or quarter-sou to three deniers.
Established custom, and the relative value of coins, proved of greater force than the Orders in Council. Livres, and sous, and liards tournois continued, in fact, the currency of the Island at their old rate; and many of the native inhabitants of the Island still keep their accounts, or make their reckonings, in the livre tournois—the livre being estimated at twenty sous, and the sou at four liards or twelve deniers. When the English currency was, in the year 1835, adopted as the legal currency of the Island, it was done by declaring the relative value which it bore in circulation to the livre tournois. This was to meet the objections which were raised to the adoption of the English standard with regard to wheat rents, and other mortgages, which were estimated in the old currency tournois. Twenty-six livres tournois, or old French currency, were declared to be equivalent to one pound sterling, which was, and is now, the current rate.
Allusion is still made in some legal and official documents to order-money or, as it is called, argent d'ordre, or argent selon l'ordre du roi. But the question may reasonably be asked, 'What is order-money? What is the standard of order-money? Does order-money really exist, or has it ever existed?' The livre of order-money is considered worth fifty per cent. more than the livre-tournois; and the distinction is supposed to be derived from the Order in Council of the year 1729. But that Order in Council did not establish that difference: it did not change the relative value of the sou and the livre. There was, in fact, no such thing as order-money, except for liards, and thus it did not apply to sous or livres. The value of the liard, as compared to the sou, was, it is true, changed and regulated; but the relative value of the sol, compared with the livre, could not be changed or affected thereby; it remained the same as before. There were twenty sous to the livre: the coin, the sou in circulation, was not enlarged, or made of more intrinsic value. Such as it was before, such it remained still. There was no other sou or livre known or acknowledged in use than the tournois; and the Order in Council did not substitute any other. The Order in Council could not, with any degree of fairness or justice, be supposed to affect those persons who paid their accounts in sous or livres, or in gold or silver, and not in liards. This was not, however, the view taken of the Order; and hence the indignation felt; for the interpretation given, and the claim of fifty per cent. more than was in fact due, bore the semblance of great injustice.
The present value in circulation in Jersey of English silver coin will illustrate my meaning. The shilling passes current for twenty-six sous, or thirteen pence of old Jersey currency; but the value of the shilling is not intrinsically or really changed—whether it is called twelve pence British or thirteen pence Jersey. In either case, a shilling remains a shilling, a pound sterling a pound sterling, worth twenty of the shillings, whether called twelve pence or thirteen pence. The intrinsic value of the coin, of the shilling, is precisely the same; and its relative value to the sovereign is not in the slightest degree modified. The only mode of changing the value of a coin is by an addition of the metal of which it is composed, or by deterioration. If a coin contains the same quantity of metal of the same standard, it does not vary in intrinsic value, whatever may be the denomination given to it, or whatever may be the depreciation of a coin of less value. For the same reason, whether the sou was called six liards or four liards, twelve deniers or eight deniers, that made no difference whatever in the real intrinsic value of the sou or the livre. Persons could not in justice be compelled to pay their accounts in liards, when the amount was stated in livres or sous; and hence to oblige them to pay fifty per cent. more than the amount due, when the amount offered was gold or silver, livres or sous, was egregiously unjust."—Le Quesne, page 421.
The Coats of Arms of the Channel Islands
Since the coats of arms for the islands of Guernsey and Jersey appear on the coins minted for these islands in England in the nineteenth century, the following notes may be of interest:—
In 1279 King Edward I. granted a Public Seal, with arms (as for England), to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The arms for Guernsey now differ only from those of Jersey in being surmounted by a sprig of laurel, or another plant. It is not, however, stated why or when this sprig was conferred. The arms read—
Gu—three lions or leopards passant gardant—or.
From the impressions of the Bailiewick seals, at different periods, it appears that slight differences occur. The inscription on the seal for Jersey runs—"S. Ballivic Insule de Jerseye."
Alderney and Sark, being dependencies of Guernsey, have on legal or authoritative documents either the seal as granted for that island or else local seals, as will be specified.
The Rev. G. E. Lee, Rector of St. Peter's, Port Guernsey, communicates the following interesting and very full note on the above-named matter:—
Edward I., in the 7th year of his reign, November 15th, 1279, granted a seal for the use of both Bailiewicks. The seal used in both islands was the same in all respects, except that one had, as legend, S. Ballivic Insule de Gerseye, and the other, S. Ballivic Insule de Gernseye. Both seals are appended to a document formerly belonging to the abbey of Mont St. Michel. The seals bore the three lions of England crowned, and were both surmounted by a branch, of which more below. The document is of the year 1315. The Guernsey side has the counterseal of Macey de la Court Bailiff. The Jersey counterseal has no name, but bears three lions passant, with some sort of bird as a crest. The Bailiff of Guernsey still uses a facsimile of the original seal. In Jersey the seal has been modernized, and the surmounting branch omitted, perhaps by the carelessness of the engraver. The said branch is usually styled a laurel branch, but why I know not. It has stiff sprays, and I am convinced was intended for the Plantagenista, the well-known badge used by King Edward I.
It cannot, however, but be observed that if the sprig be intended to represent the slight, insignificant foliage of the Plantagenista [called "Broom" in the south of England], the design is very unlike and misleading.
As regards the official seals used locally for Alderney and Sark, under date, Alderney, 22nd February, 1895, the Procureur of Alderney informs me:—
The Guernsey seal is not ours, nor is it ever used by us. A facsimile of our seal and coat of arms is enclosed, but I know not when granted, nor by whom.
This seal is a lion rampant, with a sprig in right paw, and above the legend JUGE D'AUREGNY. The heraldic tinctures are not indicated on the seal.
With reference to the seal used locally for Sark, W. F. Collings, Esquire, informs me, under date, Sark, 8th March, 1895:—
The seal of the Seigneurs was authorized to be used by act of the Royal Court, Guernsey, bearing date the 12th day of August, 1661, by virtue of a clause in Letters Patent of James I.—of date, August 12th, 1611. The seal was lost in the wreck of the steamer Gosforth, November 26th, 1872.
The Rev. G. E. Lee supplements the above as follows:—
I find that the Alderney seal was granted by the Lords of the Privy Council, on May 23rd, 1745. It bears the legend Sigillum Curiae Insulae Origny, 1745.
Origny is an older form than Auregny; the mediaeval Latin was Alrenorium.
The seal you have got with Juge d'Auregny is not the official seal I have described, but an adaptation of it doubtless.
I can gather no record of any minting having ever taken place in Guernsey. There is, however, an estate in the parish of St. Andrew called La Monnoye or Monnaie, which may mean 'The Mint.'
The extract furnished by Mr. Le Brun, vicar of Alderney, with the impression of the seal of that island, is:—
Sceau ou cachet accordé à La Cour, 1745, Mai 23e. Les Seigneurs du Conseil Privé de Sa Majesté, par leur ordre ou Conseil de ce Jour authorisent (sic) la Cour d'Auregny d'avoir un cachet pour certifier tous et tels ecrits qui leur pourront Ítre présentés pour y opposer le sceau.
Under date 27th March, 1895, the Rev. G. E. Lee supplements his previous information:—
I have seen Sir Edgar MacCulloch, and he agrees with me that the Alderney seal is a creation. I have now seen two documents of Sark. The first, of 1818, is sealed with a large seal, two inches in diameter, in green wax, bearing the de Carteret arms and supporters. The seal is called Le sceau de la Seigneurie de l'île de Serk. On the reverse is a counterseal, with the arms of the then seigneur, P. Le Pelley.
The other deed is of 1852, and sealed with the Le Pelley arms, which, on that occasion, are called 'Le sceaux de la Seigneurie de cette île'—the seigneur being P. C. Le Pelley.
The late Mr. Collings, I suspect, used the de Carteret seal, which seems to have been lost in the wreck of the Gosforth. The de Carterets, no doubt, used the seal with their own arms, and some of their successors certainly used this same seal as the official seal for the island.
The arms of the ancient family of de Carteret are, with supporters,
Gu—four Fusils in Fess conjoined arg.,
and crest, a squirrel sejant holding a sprig—ppr., and their historic motto—"LOYALL DEVOIR."
The Jersey Silver Tokens of 1813
The Hon. Sir C. W. Freemantle, K.C.B., Master of the Royal Mint, has courteously favoured me with particulars of coinages as specially struck for the Channel Islands.
As regards the Jersey 3s. token of 1813, and the 1s. 6d. token of the same date, he says:—
These were coined at the Royal Mint, under authority from the Committee of Council on Coins, dated 5th February, 1813.
£10,000 worth of silver bullion was purchased and coined into tokens of 3s. and 1s. 6d., nominal value. The current value of these coins appears to have been £11,473 17s. 6d., but there is no information as to the value of each of the two denominations of coins issued.
The Viscount of Jersey [Le Gros] kindly supplements the above with the following local information:—
On the 26th October, 1812, the States, having taken into consideration the want of specie and of small coin current in the island—a want which makes itself more and more felt, both amongst the inhabitants and the troops in garrison—decided to order, with the sanction of Government, the coinage of a certain quantity of small silver tokens for circulation in this island. A committee of nine members was named to consider the amount and value of the coins to be issued, and to enquire into the cost of such issue.
The States requested H.E. the Lieut.-Governor Don to consult His Majesty's Ministers on the matter before proceeding further therein.
On the 12th December, 1812, a letter from Lord Chetwynd, clerk of the Privy Council, dated 18th November, 1812, in reply to the Lieut.-Governor's application, having been read, the States instructed their Committee to take the necessary steps for the coining and putting in circulation in the island of small silver coins to the value of not more than £10,000 of such amounts and design as they may consider most suitable.
On the 20th March, 1813, the silver coinage struck at the Royal Mint by authority of the Lords of the Privy Council for circulation in the island, being expected to arrive any day, which coins are of the value some of 3s., some of 1s. 6d., and bear on one side the arms of the island, and on the other their value—the States instructed their Committee to take the necessary steps to put these coins into circulation as soon as they arrive, and the States engaged to take back the coins at their respective value, whenever it may become necessary, after having given one month's notice, both by publication in the several parishes and by advertisements in the local newspapers, to the holders to bring the coins to the Treasurer of the States, and receive the amount thereof.
The Viscount of Jersey [Le Gros], in a letter dated Seafield, 19th October, 1893, further informs me:—
The result of the issue of these coins was that they were exported in large quantities—to Guernsey especially, and, I am told, to Canada also, where they were at a premium, passing, no doubt, as if of the same value as English coins of the same denominations.[Pg 30]
These coins, or what remained of them in the island, were called in by the States in 1834, in which year English money was declared the sole legal tender.
The above-named two Jersey silver tokens read respectively:—
O. states of Jersey, 18 13 = The arms of Jersey—viz., gules, three lions passant gardant or.
R. THREE | SHILLINGS | TOKEN, in three lines, within a wreath of oak leaves.
O. states of Jersey, 11 13 = the arms of Jersey.
R. EIGHTEEN | PENCE | TOKEN, in three lines, within a wreath of oak leaves.
These silver tokens were the only coins of that metal ever struck for the Channel Islands. The countermarked Spanish dollars, indented "Bishop de Jersey and Co.," belong to Guernsey, and will be noticed together with the other coins of that island.
Copper and bronze coinages of Jersey from 1841COPPER AND BRONZE COINAGES OF JERSEY FROM 1841.
The Viscount of Jersey [Le Gros] favours me with the following information:—
In 1834 it was enacted that from the 1st October, in that year, English money alone should be legal tender in the island, and that the pound sterling should be considered equal to 26 livres, old French currency, which was, up to the date above given, currency of the island.
There being 20 sous to the livre, and 20 shillings to the pound, a shilling became the equivalent of 26 sous. The value of the Jersey penny, or pièce de deux sous, therefore, became 1⁄13th of a shilling, the half-penny, or sou, 1⁄13th of a shilling, and the farthing, or pièce de deux liards, 1⁄52nd of a shilling.
As regards the above, in plain English we may call a livre a franc, a sou a half-penny, and a liard a half-farthing, as current in Jersey.
Sir C. W. Fremantle, Deputy-Master of the Royal Mint, has most kindly
given me full particulars as to dates and amounts of actual supplies of
copper coins to Jersey; and the Viscount of Jersey has furnished me with
records of[Pg 31] quantities ordered; thus collectors will now be able to
judge as to rarity of the different issues, and also to know for certain
when they may happen to meet with patterns or coins not sent to Jersey
Numbers of pieces issued
|Copper coins bearing date 1841. (The
order, dated 13th July, 1840, was to the
value of £1,000). These, and up to date,
1871 inclusive, were for 1⁄13th, 1⁄13th,
|There was a further supply in 1844||27,040||232,960||—|
|On December 13th, 1850, there was an
order, to the value of £1,000, for copper
coins; but there is no record in the Royal
Mint that supply was made therefrom.
Still, both pence and half-pence of date,
1851, were supplied for currency, and are
|Copper coins of date, 1858 (ordered to
value of £2,000 on 15th October, 1857).
|Copper coins of date, 1861||173,333||173,333||—|
|Bronze coins of date, 1866, ordered to
value £2,000 under date 8th Dec, 1864.
|Ditto, ditto, 1870. In 1869 the old copper
issues were called in to be used for recoining
and re-issue as bronze coinage—as type
of late bronze coinage of 1866.
These re-coined issues were dated 1870
|Bronze coins of date, 1871 (in continuance
of last-named order).
|Bronze coins of date, 1877. These coins
were 1⁄12th, 1⁄24th, and 1⁄48th of a
shilling respectively, instead of being
1⁄13th, &c., as previously. On February
25th, 1876, the leading tradesmen of Jersey
had petitioned the States to this effect, and
the States ordered £2,000 of the new
denominations accordingly. At the same time,
the coins of former denominations were called
in. This new coinage was ordered through the
Royal Mint, but actually struck by Messrs.
Ralph Heaton, of Birmingham.
|Bronze coins of date, 1881. £260 worth
of bronze farthings of 1877, for which
there had been no demand in Jersey,
were sent back to the Mint, and re-coined
into pence, and thus re-issued.
|Bronze coins of date, 1888. (£2,000 were
ordered, but only £1,000 supplied). In
1894 the remainder of the bronze coinage
ordered for Jersey in 1888 was supplied.
The value of this further supply, bearing
date 1894, was £750 in coins 1⁄12th of a
shilling, and £250 in coins 1⁄24th of a shilling.
The original "States" authority was of the
16th January, 1888, confirmed by Order
in Council dated 17th March, 1888.
The first half, £750 and £250 respectively
in denominations, had been re-coined in
The descriptive reading of the first copper coinage of Jersey is as follows, dates and values being altered as required—values issued being 1⁄13th, 1⁄26th, and 1⁄52nd of a shilling:—
O. Dexter Bust[H] of Her Majesty the Queen, with hair banded, as in the English contemporary shilling, with the legend VICTORIA: D: G: BRITANNIAR: REGINA F.D.: 1841.
R. Ornamented Shield of Arms of Jersey (gules—three lions or leopards passant gardant), with STATES OF JERSEY around upper half—1⁄13th OF A SHILLING around lower half. This type was issued from 1841 to 1861 intermittently.
The bronze coinages of dates 1866, 1870, and 1871 have the bust coroneted, and an oak leaf scroll, and the ONE THIRTEENTH written fully instead of expressed in figures and as a fraction, and initials of Leonard C. Wyon on[Pg 33] truncation of neck. The issues were but of 1⁄13th and 1⁄26th of a shilling—none of 1⁄52nd (farthings).
The bronze coinage of 1877 and subsequently reads as follows—with differences for values and dates:—
O. Dexter Coroneted Bust of Her Majesty, with seven-pointed star below, and letter H for Heaton (minters) within the legend VICTORIA D.G. BRITANNIA REGINA F.D.
R. A pointed Shield of Jersey arms, dividing the date 18-77—STATES
OF JERSEY above, and ONE TWELFTH OF A SHILLING around lower half.
These were issued of the values 1⁄12th, 1⁄24th, and 1⁄48th of a
shilling, thus inaugurating for the Jersey penny the same fractional
part of a shilling as obtained for the English penny.
On Guernsey coins from the Middle Ages
I am very greatly indebted to the Rev. G. E. Lee, M.A., F.S.A., Rector of St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, for the trouble he has kindly taken in searching old records and statutes relative to the currency in that island during the last 350 years. He has courteously given me permission to publish his extracts just as transcribed, and I here append these accordingly:—
On Guernsey Currency.
Orders of the Royal Court and of the States of Guernsey.
- 1535, March 21. No one is to coin "freluques" in future.
- 21st January, 1537. The carolusis to be held worth 12 deniers, and the vache worth 3 liards.
- Collas Guillemotte (22nd January, 1553) is authorized to coin enseignes of latten.
- Michaelmas, 1581. Her Majesty's Receiver and others are to receive
the coins named below at the values attached thereto, as follows:—
The French crown = 20 silver groats.
Flemish crown = 191⁄2 do.
Pistole = 19 do.
Double Ducat = 14 Sols sterling.
DoubleMillerays = 14 do.
Noble, Henry of France = 14 do.
Croizadelittle cross = 201⁄2 groats.
Ditto potence = 20 do.
Poll head= 15 do. Real of Spain = 6d. ob. sterling.
- Michaelmas, 1582. Value of various coins fixed as follows:—
French Crown at 191⁄2 Gros.
Flemish at 19 do.
Croyzade little + at 20 do.
Do., + potence, at 191⁄2 do.
Pistolet at 181⁄2 do.
- Jan. 16, 1586. Value of coins fixed as follows:—
French Gold Crown at 191⁄2 Gros of silver.
Flemish at 1 sol tournois less than the Escu soll.
Pistolet at 2 sols tournois less than the Escu soll.
Frank at 6 silver gros (if of full weight).
Half Frank at 3 do.
Quarter Crown at 41⁄2 gros.
Half quarter Crown at 21⁄4 do.
Teston of France at 17 deniers.
- 30th September, 1605. French coins, not worn out—e.g., quarter and half-crowns, testons and half-testons, francs and half-francs—are to be received at the rate of 64 sols to the crown. Reals to be held worth 5 deniers.
- 4th October, 1619. Many unauthorized persons having coined freluques, this is forbidden under pain of public whipping "jusqu' à effusion de sang."
- 6th October, 1623. The Normans having sent hither a quantity of deniers tournois, which they are passing for doubles, the Governor is asked to appoint a person to coin freluques.
- 17th April, 1626. The island being flooded with foreign doubles, no one shall be compelled to take more of them than the value of 2 sous tournois per crown of the money to be paid to him.
- February 26, 1640. A quantity of light French coin being current in the island, traders and others insist on weighing these moneys, refusing to take them at more than their true value. It is ordered that such money be always weighed, as is done in Normandy.
- On the 3rd of the said February, 1640, it had been ordered that all such coins should pass for their nominal value without weighing.
- Aug. 9, 1646. The States complain that whereas by their ancient customs they were allowed in Guernsey to pay all dues to the King in such money as was current in Normandy, the Governor and his Deputy had insisted on continuing to pay such French money as they had in their possession after it had been recalled, and would no longer pass in Normandy.
- Jan. 4, 1649. It hath been ordained this day that the English shilling, being worth 12 pence sterling, shall go in this island for 12 sols tournois in payment, and receate and other species of English money in proportion.
- Oct. 5, 1713. Great numbers of deniers having been brought into the island, not less than 15 of them shall be counted for a sol tournois.
- April 26, 1718. The last order is annulled, and the value of a denier fixed at 14 to the sol tournois.
- April 22, 1723. Great abundance of deniers still being imported, they are now to be valued at 16 to the sol tournois.
- Dec. 2, 1723. The value of deniers fixed at 20 to the sol tournois.
- Dec. 7, 1723. Marked sols are not to pass current.
- Oct. 3, 1763. Great quantity of Liards (commonly called Great Doubles) being constantly sent out of the island, small change is difficult to get. The order of Court of 2nd June, 1741 (which fixed the value of the said liard at 13 for 2 sols tournois) is annulled. Liards of France, alias Grand Doubles, are to go 6 to the sol tournois; but none need accept more than 7 sols tournois at each payment.
- March 28, 1797. In order to keep in the island all English money and all foreign coin which can be used, the Court orders that the French 6 franc pieces shall be held equal to 5s. 3d. sterling, and three livres pieces shall be held equal to 2s. 71⁄2d. sterling; and inasmuch as the Bank of England has put in circulation a quantity of Spanish dollars, fixing their price at 4s. 9d. sterling per dollar, the said dollars shall pass current here at the same value, and may not be refused. No money to be exported from Guernsey.
- Jan. 22, 1798. The last order repealed so far as relates to Spanish dollars.
- Sept. 30, 1799. No coined money is to be embarked here on pain of confiscation. Merchandise imported is to be paid for by bills on London or other places; the masters of vessels are only to receive enough cash for their expenses here.
- Jan. 2, 1802. Owing to the scarcity of coined money, the Court renews the ordinance of March 28, 1797, and orders that the said 6 livre pieces shall be current, and held worth 5s. 3d. sterling, and the 3 livre pieces worth 2s. 71⁄2d. sterling. Export of money again forbidden.
- May 12, 1802. Last ordinance re 6 livre and 3 livre pieces repealed.
- Jan. 17, 1803. Deniers and centimes are not to be passed for liards, and to prevent fraud these small coins are not to be used in rouleaux, in which pieces of lead, wood, &c., are often to be found.
- Aug. 5, 1809. Export of money again forbidden, except of foreign dollars in parcels brought to the island, but not circulated.
- Oct. 1, 1810. To the same effect.
- March 9, 1813. The importation of silver and copper tokensforbidden.
- April 26, 1813. The ordinances forbidding the export of money repealed, except as regards money of the United Kingdom.
- July 6, 1816. The Constable complaining of the inconvenience caused
by the fluctuation in the value of French money, "which has always
been current in this island," the said coins are to pass at their
current value, but may be refused.
The values are fixed thus:—
Pieces or crowns of 6 Francs to be worth 4s. 10d.
Petits Ecus, 2s. 4d.
Pieces of 24 Sous, 10d.
Pieces of 12 Sous, 5d.
This order is not to apply to worn-out or defaced coins, or to Irish shillings and sixpences.
- April 24, 1817. The last order repealed, but the coins must be clearly marked, and need only be received to a fixed amount.
- June 14, 1821. Liards are to be held worth 7 to the sou.
- April 15, 1829. The order of 6th July, 1816, repealed so far as regards the old French crowns of 6 francs.
- April 27th, 1829. Considering that French money has been from time immemorial, and still is, legal currency in this island, orders that the new French coinage shall be in use here—one franc to be worth 10 Guernsey pennies.
- May 1, 1848. The French money not always being available in sufficient quantity, English gold and silver coins and Bank of England notes are to be used concurrently with French money. The pound British sterling is to be held worth £1 1s. 3d. Guernsey sterling.
- Jan. 21, 1850. The last ordinance repealed.
Copper and Bronze coinage of Guernsey from 1830
Sir C. W. Freemantle kindly gives me the following information respecting copper coins minted and supplied for currency in Guernsey:—
|1 Double||2 Doubles||4 Doubles||8 Doubles|
|£ s. d.||£ s. d.||£ s. d.||£ s. d.|
|Copper of date 1830--Values sent||858 13 4||--||420 0 0||--|
|Additional sent in 1831||--||--||420 0 0||--|
|Copper of date 1834--Values sent||--||--||--||410 13 4|
|Additional sent in 1836||--||--||105 0 0||102 13 4|
|" " " 1837||--||--||210 0 0||205 6 8|
|" " " 1839||--||--||210 0 0||205 6 8|
|Copper of date 1858--Values sent||--||58 9 0||237 12 6||464 7 0|
|Bronze of date 1864--Values sent||--||--||218 18 0||463 8 0|
|Additional sent in 1865||--||--||224 16 0||723 0 0|
|Bronze of date 1868--Values sent||33 10 6||36 2 10||120 4 0||228 0 0|
|Bronze of date 1874--Values sent||--||--||144 4 0||305 4 0|
|Bronze of date 1885--Values sent||29 4 6||74 5 0||145 4 0||290 8 0|
|Bronze of date 1889--Values sent||58 6 6||37 2 0||217 12 0||924 16 0|
|Bronze of date 1893--Values sent||29 3 6||--||108 16 0||490 0 0|
The type of all the above copper and bronze issues for Guernsey remains generally the same, there being, of course, specified the various dates and differences for value.
The description of one coin, as following, will therefore answer in general terms for the whole of the issues:—
O. The Guernsey Arms [gules, three lions passant gardant or], surmounted by a sprig of three laurel leaves, the whole within two laurel branches fastened by a ribbon, and with GUERNSEY under.
R. 8 |DOUBLES| 1834, in three lines. Minor points, such as the omission or insertion of the wreath of laurel and the beaded circle, are fully described in the works of Mr. James Atkins and of Mr. D. F. Howorth, and need not therefore be repeated here.
P. Briard, Esq., makes the following interesting communication respecting the "Double" from information he obtained from Guernsey:—
The present Guernsey "Double" owes its name to an ancient French coin which became later the "Liard," and equals the 1⁄4th part of a sou. I see, by an ordinance passed in the year 1763, the following clause:—
'Que les paiements qui se firont en Liards de France ou Grand-Doubles seront sur le pied de seulement de six Liards ou Grand-Doubles par sol tournois.'
By another ordinance of more than a century before—viz., in 1626—I find these words: 'D'autant qu'à present, le païs estant rempli de Doubles apportis par les estrangers, plusieurs demeurent charges de grande quantité d'iceux doubles qu'ils ne peuvent mettre ny débiter à leur grande perte et dommage. A esté ordonné que dormavent seul recevant argent, ne sera tenu en prendre à plus de la valeur de deux sous par escu sur l'argent qu'il recevra.'
In the margin opposite this ordinance there is insertion of the words 'Doubles ou Liards,' thus showing decisively that with us in Guernsey a Double was a Liard, and a Liard a Double. In France, however, in ancient coinage a Liard was the fourth part of a Sou, and a Double intrinsically held of slightly higher value. We have kept the value of the Double to be the same as that of the Liard—that is to say, our Guernsey half-penny is quatre doubles, and our penny huit doubles.'
Silver countermaked Guernsey crown
The only silver coin for Guernsey was the Spanish Dollar, overstruck or countermarked as follows:—
O. BISHOP DE JERSEY & CO. = The arms of Guernsey within a double circle.
R. BANK OF GUERNSEY, 1809 = TOKEN OF | FIVE | SHILLINGS, in three lines—wreath of oak. Specimens of this countermarked coin are now very rare. The one in the Leycester Sale, of June, 1888, lot 189, sold, together with the Jersey 3s. Tokens, for £3 10s.; and a higher price still has been more recently obtained.
Respecting this coin, the Viscount of Jersey [Le Gros] writes to me, under date 21st September, 1893:—
The firm of Bishop de Jersey & Co., who issued the token in question in 1809, carried on the business of bankers in Guernsey under the style of "The Guernsey Bank." This Bank was in existence for about ten years in the beginning of the present century, and was, I am told, the first to issue paper money (£1 notes) in Guernsey. It came to grief, however, after this short time.
There are descendants of Mr. Bishop still living in Guernsey.
'Mon Plaisir' is the name of the family estate of the Guernsey family of de Jersey, of which the partner in the Bank of that name was a member.
Bishop and de Jersey are two distinct family names, both belonging to Guernsey.
Channel Islands Copper Tokens
I have not, during two and a half years' stay in Jersey, been able to find any 17th century token of the Channel Islands.
The supply of small copper coins from France at that period prevented any inconvenience from want of currency of low denominations, and so probably no 17th century tokens were struck.
Nor were there any penny nor half-penny tokens struck for the Channel Islands between the years 1788 and 1797, when the issue of these, prior to the regal copper coinage of 1797, was so extensive in Great Britain.
But in the years 1812 and 1813 the copper currency, as well as that of silver, ran short, owing chiefly to the great drain caused by the Continental wars and the suspension of mintage work in common with other industries; accordingly, a few tokens, only six in all, of the penny size were issued from two sources.
The description of these is as follows:—
1. O. JERSEY BANK TOKEN, 1812 = Laureated sinister bust of George III.
R. ELIAS NEEL, JERSEY, A BANK OF ENGLAND NOTE FOR 240 TOKENS.
2. O. JERSEY BANK, 1813 = A draped sinister bust of King George III.
R. ONE PENNY TOKEN—The figure of Commerce seated.
3. O. JERSEY, GUERNSEY, AND ALDERNEY = ONE PENNY TOKEN.
R. TO FACILITATE TRADE, 1813 = Prince of Wales Plume of ostrich
feathers and motto.
4. O. As last.
R. Laureated bust of King George III. within oak leaf wreath.
5. O. As last.
R. ONE PENNY TOKEN within a wreath.
6. O. As last.
R. PURE COPPER PREFERABLE TO PAPER. PENNY TOKEN = A Druid's
All the above-mentioned tokens are rare. I can find none whatever issued since 1813, nor prior to 1812. I have, in the above descriptions, taken the obverse of tokens as the side of the coin specifying the Bank or other source of issue. This makes uniformity in the descriptions more apparent perhaps, though, in one case, it wrongly throws the bust on the reverse.
All sorts and conditions of small coins were formerly current in the Channel Islands. These were almost entirely of French mintage. Even at the present day, if at any ordinary shop in Jersey you take change in coppers, you will probably find amongst them two or three French sous, two or three Jersey pence or half-pence, an English penny or two, and one or two coins of Spain or Italy, and, until lately, even perhaps one of the numerous coins introduced by the Russian troops who were formerly in Jersey.
At such public institutions as the main Post Office, none but English and Jersey or Guernsey pence and half-pence are the coppers received or given.
As regards gold and silver currency, none but English-struck coins are usually fully current and tendered everywhere.
Le Quesne, at a footnote, page 263, writes:—
The average weight of a Jersey quarter of wheat is 260 lbs. English. Compared to an English quarter, the proportion is 13⁄24.
The Rev. G. E. Lee says:—"From the earliest times the quarter (Guernsey measure or measures) of wheat has been the unit of currency here, the value of the quarter being every year proclaimed by the Royal Court and affeuré in terms of so many livres and sols tournois.
The livre tournois is now held to be worth 1⁄14 of the Guernsey pound sterling—e.g., in purchasing a property the contract will stipulate the value (even at the present day) in quarters of wheat, generally adding a proviso that the quarter payable is to be redeemed for £14 trs.—i.e., £1 Guernsey sterling. Fines imposed by the Court are always expressed in livres, sols, and deniers tournois."
With reference to extracts furnished me by Mr. Lee, he adds further:—
English and French coins of every sort seem to have been current here [in Guernsey] from earliest times, the local value being fixed occasionally of such coins as were least in accord with those of Normandy.
The most common former local coin seems to have been the freluche, which I take to be equal to the double.—i.e., the double denier tournois.
£1 notes have been issued, by authority of the States, both for Jersey and Guernsey.
With reference to the mixed copper coins in circulation, mention has been made that there were Russian pieces tendered as small change. The following extracts from most interesting notes written by Miss Phillipa L. Marette, of La Haule Manor, for "The Jersey Ladies' College Magazine," will show clearly how it was that Russian coins were for a while current in the Channel Islands:—
That clause in the Bill of Rights which forbids the landing of foreign troops in England, is responsible for the 'Russian occupation of Jersey,' for by it the Russians, who were our allies in the ill-fated expedition to Holland (undertaken for the re-establishment of the Prince of Orange), were prevented from taking up their quarters in England, and so were let loose upon the Channel Islands, there to await the arrival of their transports. Great was the excitement of the inhabitants when, on the 24th November, 1799, the first detachment of the Russian Corps of Emmaffeur (now the Pauloski Regiment, which still wears the same head-dress, a tall gilt mitre) arrived in this island.
Week after week brought fresh numbers, and by January, 1800, 6,505 Russians were landed in Jersey, the sister island of Guernsey also receiving about the same number, and the whole force being under the command of a Frenchman, General Vilmeuil, who was created a Field-Marshal on the restoration of the Bourbons.
As there were also at this time about 8,000 English troops in the place, it was somewhat difficult to find accommodation for the strangers.
A large camp was formed on Grouville Common. Many were quartered in the St. Helier's Bay in the so-called 'Blue Barracks,' which were on the sand hill that then stretched between First Tower and Cheapside. Mention is made of Laurence's and Pipon's Barracks, the exact site of which I am unable to discover. They were probably private houses hired as temporary quarters, for we find that the old Parsonage at St. Brelade's, St. Ouen's Manor, and Belle Vue, near St. Aubin's, were all used as such. About St. Aubin's were distributed 995 men of a regiment of Chasseurs and a regiment of Grenadiers—61 being in hospital there. The General Infirmary of the island was also hired by the Russians, and was used mostly as a hospital, though some duty troops were also located therein.
The Russians were only detained in the Channel Islands about six months, and by June 10th, 1800, had all left Jersey. The mortality amongst them was very great, doubtless aggravated by defective sanitary arrangements and overcrowding. One of their rough burial grounds on Grouville Common was consecrated some years after their departure. They were buried usually in gardens, &c., near where they died, wrapped in their blankets only.
The lady who furnishes the above interesting facts, gives also in her paper other most quaint and valuable particulars of these strange visitors. She had spent much time in gleaning all that could be got together, and this proved no easy matter, for, although the Russian occupation of the Channel Islands occurred but 97 years ago, there is little obtainable record remaining.
I have somewhat fully inserted notes to show how Russian coins became current in the Channel Islands, because this has puzzled many.
At the present time all English money is commonly current throughout the group of islands.