Chronology and dating – the documentary evidence

An appropriate point to start is the Calendar of Patent Rolls, which contains an entry dated 13 June 1247 in which King Henry III grants a licence to his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to oversee the new coinage in return for a half-share of the profits. On 27 July it is recorded that Richard had provided 10000 marks of silver for starting the process, which was scheduled to begin on the following All Saints’ day (1 November).

The very first coins (class 1a) name neither the mint nor the moneyer, probably because they were struck only at London. As soon as the other two active primary mints (Bury and Canterbury) joined in the process, the mint name was added to the reverse (class 1b). It still wasn’t necessary to revert to the practice of naming the moneyer, however, as Nicole (Nicholas de Sancto Albano) was responsible for both London and Canterbury, and the sole moneyer at Bury was Ion. The considerable rarity of class 1a coins suggests that they were superseded by class 1b very shortly after production started, possibly even before the end of 1247. A royal mandate dated 26 December 1247, relating to the mint at Bury, supports this view of the timing. It instructs that a set of dies for the new coinage be provided to the mint, subject, as was customary, to surrender of the set already held and used to strike the old coinage. The new dies would be for striking coins of class 1b, the first type to be struck at Bury, and they would probably have been available for use at the very beginning of 1248.

The next date to note is 15 March 1248, when, responding to a writ of 26 February, nominated officials for the first five of the provincial mints were presented at the exchequer to go through the formalities and take up their respective offices. The five mints were Exeter, Lincoln, Northampton, Norwich and Winchester. Four of the five commence striking coins of class 2a, but Norwich appears to have started operating a little later, as its first coins are of class 2b. The exact starting dates are unknown, but in view of the urgency implied by the prompt response to the writ, it seems likely that the mints would be operational before the middle of the year.

Also very early in 1248 (between 23 January and 12 February), Gilbert (Gilbert de Bonnington) replaced Ion (John Chiche) as the archbishop’s moneyer at Canterbury. (The mint had both a royal and an ecclesiastical contingent.) The earliest coins struck by Gilbert, and the last struck by Ion, are class 1b/2a mules, which would suggest that 1b was in the process of being replaced by 2a at the time of Gilbert’s appointment.

Later in 1248, at some point during the Easter Term, Henri (Henry Frowik) was appointed as an additional moneyer at London. His first coins, of class 3a, are likely to have been struck around June/July, by which time class 2 had apparently come to an end.

The writs relating to the opening of mints at Gloucester, Oxford and York have not been traced, but those for Bristol, Carlisle, Hereford, Ilchester, Newcastle, Shrewsbury, Wallingford and Wilton were issued on 10 October 1248, and the nominated officials duly attended the exchequer between the 1 and 8 November to take their oaths. Assuming the period of time between their appointment and the mints opening was similar to that suggested for the earlier batch of mints, they probably started striking January-February 1249. The earliest coins, in all cases, are of class 3ab.

A number of documents calling for the return of dies and assays (standards of fineness) establish that the provincial mints were closed not later than about February/March 1250, the recoinage by then having been effectively completed. The latest coins struck by most of the provincial mints are of class 3c, although a small number apparently ceased operation a little earlier, as they strike only up to class 3bc.

In May-June 1250, two further moneyers, Davi (David de Enefeld) and Ricard (Richard Bonaventure), were appointed at London. With Nicole and Henri, this brought the total to four. Davi commences striking in class 3c, while Ricard’s first coins are class 3c/3d mules.

Another appointment in May-June 1250 was that of Ion (John Terri) at Canterbury. However, Ion’s first coins are of class 4, thus indicating that class 3 ended in 1250 and class 4 began. William Cokyn was also appointed during the same period, but another William - probably the same William who is named on the last coins of the short cross coinage - had been striking at Canterbury from class 1b/2a, and we are unable to differentiate between the coins of the two men.

The elucidation of the dates of the subsequent classes and sub-classes is a greater challenge, and in view of the complexity, it makes for greater clarity to present the evidence as a chronological list of basic facts. The interpretation of these, along with the preceding information, is presented in tabular form at the end of the section.

The ‘X’s in the table that follows are based on the above facts and represent a high probability or certainty that the applicable class was being struck during the year(s) indicated. The ‘?’s represent a possibility that the coin was being struck. The evidence suggests that in some cases there is a possibility of ‘overlapping’ between the end of one sub-class and the start of the next one. Class 5g, for example, was being struck in 1258, but when Davi was succeeded at London in 1260, his last coins were of class 5f.

Class 1247 1248 1249 1250 1251  1252 1253 1254 1255 1256 1257 1258 1259 1260 1261 1262 1263 1264 1265 1266 1267 1268 1269 1270 1271 1272 1273 1274 1275 1276 1277 1278
1a X                                                              
1b X X                                                            
2a   X                                                            
2b   X                                                            
3a   X ?                                                          
3b     X                                                          
3c     ? X                                                        
3d       X                                                        
4       X X                                                      
5a         X X X                                                  
5b           ? X                                                  
5c             X X X X                                            
5d                   X ?                                          
5e                   ? ?                                          
5f                     ? X ? ?                                    
5g                       X X X X X X X X X X X ? ?                
5h                                             ? ? X ?            
5i                                                 ? ?            
6                                                   ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
7                                                     ? ? ? ? ? X

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