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17th-Century Farthing Trade Tokens

In Surrey, tokens were issued at fifty-five different places, and it is interesting to note the peculiarities in the method of describing and spelling the name of the place of issue.
  • Abinger, for instance, on its solitary token, appears in the older name of Abenworth.
  • Battersea is spelt Battersey.
  • Bletchingley appears as Bleachingley and Bleachingly.
  • Dorking as Darking, Darkin, and Dorkinge.
  • Egham as Eadgham, Egam, Eggam, Edgham, and Eggham, five methods of spelling.
  • Epsom reads Ebisham and Apsum.
  • Ewell is spelt Yewell and Yewill.
  • Farnham, phonetically as Fanum and Farnum.
  • Godalming as Godlyman, Godalman, Godalmin, Godallmig, Godallminge, Godalminge, and Godallmin, seven methods of spelling.
  • Guilford varies between six ways, reading Gillford, Gilford, Guilforde, Gilldford, Gildford, and Guilford.
  • Haslemere reads Hasselmore and Haselmore.
  • Mortlake as Morlacke and Moreclack.
  • Rotherhithe as Rotherhith, Redcriff, Redriff, and Rotherhith--these spellings being inall cases extra to the few instances in which the name of the place is put in the modern style.
A few of the issuers of the tokens were women, probably single women.
  • Florance Webb issued the Abinger token.
  • Elizabeth Bothel issued a token at Dorking.
  • Eleanor Right at Egham and Elizabeth Amus at Epsom, Mary OSburne at Godstone, Elizabeth Smith at Putney, Margaret Catt at Reigate; and at Rotherhithe, Mary Berry, Sussannah Dannill, Sara Heywood, Rebekah Smallman, Elizabeth Swan, and Mary Warren; and at Wandsworth a token was issued by Elizabeth Crow.
The information as to the trades carried on by the issuers is very varied, and in many cases we have no more to guide us than the trade signs on the tokens. These must not be taken to invariably mean inn-holdings, although, of course, many of them do refer to such a trade, but the majority of important trades at that time traded under a sign, and in many instances the sign was formed from the arms of the trading Guild.

There is hardly a trading Guild bearing arms that is not represented on tokens, although naturally some occur very much more frequently than others.

It is evident that use of these coats-of-arms as signs of trade was very frequent; in many towns every token bears the arms of some trade, and probably used the coat armour as its sign. In some towns, research in Corporation and Guild records has revealed the fact of a close relationship, alliance, and to some extent, obedience, existing between those of a trade in a town forming that Guild, and what was evidently looked upon, to some extent, as headquarters in London. It is impossible to say to what extent this intimate connection existed; it is referred to but seldom in Guild records, and then only briefly, as though well known; but it is clear that the trades largely and extensively used the armorial bearings of the company, formed themselves into loacl Guilds for the management and restriction of their own trade, and to a certain extent owned and recognised a sort of allegiance due to the London company. The very word Guildford is derived from the presence of a trading Guild in the town, and for generations the governing body of the town was known as Gilda Meractoria.

In Barnes we have the sign of the Horse, and we find from an Exchequer bill that the issuer, Timothy Harley, was a brewer. Another issuer, Goodwin, describes himself as a vintner, and traded at the sign of the Bear.

Thomas Embery bore the Blacksmiths' Arms, and these were also borne by an issuer in Farnham.

  • The Cordwainers', Arms appear in Battersea and Farnham.
  • The Grocers', at Chertsey, Lingfield, Rotherhithe, Sutton and Walton.
  • The Mercers', at Cranleigh.
  • The Butchers', at Kingston and Walton.
  • The Barber-Surgeons', at Kingston.
  • The Tallowchandlers', at Kingstone, Reigate.
  • The Bakers', at Lambeth, Rotherhithe, Walton, and Wandsworth.
  • The Merchant-Tailors', at Mortlake.
  • The Salters', at Putney.
  • The Haberdashers' and Merchant-Adventurers', at Ripley.
  • The Drapers', at Rotherhithe.
At Rotherhithe we are not surprised to find the arms of the Shipwrights and Watermen, nor is it strange to find the Watermen's Arms also at Putney, Richmond, and Lambeth; but it is curious that the solitary Clapham token should bear this achievement also.

A man making candles, or a stick of candles, are favourite devices in Surrey, and are found on tokens of Croydon, Dorking, Farnham, Godalming, Kingston, and Wandsworth.

Sugar-loaves, which probably refer to a grocery trade, appear at Farnham, Reigate, and Rotherhithe; while the staple industry of Guildford is clearly denoted by the fact that of 28 tokens 22 bear the woolsack.

A malt-shovel is a favourite device on Godalming tokens; a fleur-de-lys on Farnham ones.

A simple sort of punning appears in the presence of a church on the Chertsey town token, and the same humour is noticeable upon other of the Surrey tokens. Thus, for instance, a thorn bush, or Glastonbury Holy Thorn, appears on the token of Edward Bush, of Croydon.

A King's head is borne by Robert King, of Richmond, etc; a swan, by Elizabeth Swan, of Rotherhithe.

In most cases the sign of the shop or business appears on the tokens, so that the token is what is termed a speaking type. Robert Lloyd, of Croydon, at the Greyhound, bears a greyhound; and two Lambeth issuers bear the Wild Boar and the Bear and Ragged Staff, and describe themselves as of the Blue Boar, and of the Bare and Raged Stafe.

Another trades at Yo Punchinelly, and bears Punch in a chair, and a Putney issuer is at the Red Lion, and puts a lion passant gardant on his token of unusual and peculiar character. There are a few special tokens among the Surrey series. John Sole, of Battersea, bears a bird with a garter, and an Earl's coronet above it, as though he claimed a connection with a noble family. Thomas Lusher, of Chiddingfold, has the curious device of "two pipes and a roll of tobacco;" and John Luffrum, of Egham, has a coach and pair of horses. Several Farnham issuers have a castle, as referring to Farnham Castle, upon their tokens, and most of the Guildford tokeners have a castle upon their tokens also, as a reference both to the old keep and the town arms.

The Kingston issuers, in many cases, also bear portions of the Kingston arms upon their tokens, "The Three Salmons hauriant."

Other cuirous devices are the one on the tokens of Edmonds, of Lambeth, which represents two porters holding a kind of handbarrow, and a third loading it with a sack; and the one of Joseph Hall, of Newington, who states that he is "AT OLD SMUGGS," at Newington Butts, and gives a smith working at an anvil on his token.

What is known as the Guildford Postman's tokens has a postman upon it with a very long staff, and two varieties of the token differ in the head-gear worn by the postman; one has a quaint, high had, and the other a very low hat and a wig, and the issuer is supposed to have lived at Compton, as his initials are found cut into the Compton Church in a similar fashion to the engraving on the token. Peter White, of Mortlake, was evidently in doubt as to how to fill up the space on his token, and so put the royal motto, "Hon soit qui mal y pense," and curiously accompanied it with the arms of the City of London!

It has been interesting to find out odd bits of information respecting the issuers of several of these quaint little pieces, and although the information obtained is often of a disjointed chracter, it throws light upon the possessions and position of the traders. The Hearth-tax Rolls often mention the assessment of the issuers. Some were assessed at four, others at eight hearths; some are declared free for various reasons, either for poverty or by widowhood.

Richard Greene, of Battersea, was a Constable of the parish. Steven Theckstone, of the same place, is specially dubbed "Mr.," and is assessed at no less than nineteen hearths.

Then, again, the Subsity Rolls often mention their names, and the Exchequer Bills and other records. An issuer at Bramley was a Popish recusant, and her estate at Southwark declared forfeited to the Crown. An issuer at Chertsey, William Burnett, was an Anabaptist teacher, and received in 1672 a special license to teach in the house of William Longhurst, in Chertsey. Thomas Lusher, of Chiddingfold, was churchwarden, overseer, and surveyor for the poor in his native parish, and evidently a man of importance in the place; his family were old residents in the neighbourhood.

The rolls of the Feet of Fines again often tell us little bits of information on these seventeenth-century traders, and we learn of their landed property and of its transfer by purchase or deed.

These fines were practically deeds transferring land, not payments, as we now understand the word. They were nominally the "finis" or end of a fictitious suit. Fines which did not relate exclusively to real property operated nominally as an amicable arrangement putting an end (finis) to a hostile suit in the King's Court, and early became a popular method of converyance, not only from their efficacy, but from the safety insured to a purchaser by the fact of a duplicate of the foot of the fine being preserved as a record in the custory of the Court. They had somehwat the effect also of a registration of title.

One man at Cranleigh is declared as living in the street and without home, while the other issuer in this little village was a man of large means, and by his will bequeaths conisderable estate in land. Several wills of issuers have been discovered in the Probate Court, and their mention of land under curious local names, often still well known, makes them of especial interest; while the persistence of local names, as Didlesfold, Mower, Strudwick, Enticknap, and Gaston[?], all from the villages of Cranleigh or Bramley, is one of the more striking features of our Surrey village life. Sometimes the information is gathered from other sources, as, for instance, the gallery of Croydon Church records the name of the man who issued the only heart-shaped Surrey token, and who was churchwarden when the gallery was erected.

At Ewell a token is issued by Samuel Hawkins, and on searching the parish registers for this small hamlet, the name of Hawkins seems to fill up the greater portion of the entries. From 1600 to 1776, the registers are full of entries of births, deaths, and baptisms of member of this family, who seem to have been a very large family, and evidently formed the leading residents of the place. The other Ewell token is hardly decipherable, but bears a must unusual name, Ferdinando Dow, and conjecture is busy to determine whether this issuer was of Spanish or of Dutch extraction.

Many a quaint entry in the churchwardens' books at Farnham, and many a tombstone at Guildford, have been laid under contribution to furnish information.

In one case we read of a woman issuer standing and doing public penance in Farnham Church for offence, and of a Guildford issuer, one John Martin, we learn quite a little history. Apprenticed by the overseers as a town poor boy, serving his master faithfully and well, rising to be Mayor of his native town, and being elected serveral times, subscribing largely to a fund for welcoming Charles II on his visit to the town in 1663, becoming churchwarden, Bailiff, overseer for his parish, and living to the age of 75, and then being buried with great honour, form a series of interesting links of information in the life of a successful hardworking Surrey trader of the seventeeth century. Then the regligious scruples of some of these sturdy men must not be overlooked, and Besse's "Sufferings of the Quakers" tells us that many of them belonged to that most persecuted sect, and suffered hard things for conscience' sake. A Kingston issuer, Fielder, signed the celebrated Quakers' petition in 1659, and had a distress, amounting to £23, served upon him for attending meeting, and later on was committed to prison for refusing to take an oath.

Another Kingston issuer, Hubbard, was cruelly beaten, "to keep him," as the record curiously adds, "out of his meeting-house," and fined £20 per month for absence from national worship.

John Hollis, of Kingston, was imprisoned in the Marshalsea for non-payment of tithes, and fined for attendance at meeting, and in Guildford several issuers were fined for refusing to take an oath of office as Bailiff, and removed from their position. Some of these issuers expressly declared their children as "Borne" in the column of the church register apportioned to baptisms, and in this way also declared their religious scruples.

Our forefathers in the Government of the day had strange and harsh methods of obtaining what they were pleased to term unity and uniformity; and these sufferings for conscience' sake, so little ago as 1670, are remnants of a bygone practice that we are thankful to feel will never be renewed. Of a far more pleasant character is the epitaph on the tomb of Charles Salter, of Kingson, another tokener, which records the decease of himself at the age of 83, and his wife at that of 77, within twenty days of each other, and which continues its narrative in these words:

"And God took them. They lived a pattern
Of conjugal affection, and when one was gone
This world was no longer pleasing to the other."
Many inns named on tokens, and which were at the time good and well-known posting-houses, still remain; and the Swan, Haslemere; Red Lion, Richmod; Noah's Ark, Lambeth; Catherine Wheel, Egham; Hard, Chobham, are examples of many cases in which the present day and the old token tell the same tale, although it is to be feared that the measure of business done by many of these houses is very different now to what it was.

Robert King, of the King's Head, issued a token at Richmond, and this family kept that inn at the ferry for generations--the Protector's commission renewing the privilege at a rental of one mark per annum being still in existence.

It is of interest to note that Surrey tokens have been found inalmost every county in the kingdom, a proof of the commercial importance of the county in those days.

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