|The engraving in Nash reads "WILL" only on the obverse, and was probably taken from a poor specimen, as a blank is left, and the engraving in Green appears to have been copied from it. I have one in my collection on which the obverse only of the token is struck, the reverse being indented, and corresponding with the obverse.|
These are amongst the most interesting tokens issued in this county, being the only ones bearing a merchant's mark. As will be seen from the token, William Chetle was a clothier, several members of the family having been connected with the Fraternity of Clothiers at Worcester. They were incorporated by Queen Elizabeth, in the 32nd year of her reign, by the name of the "Master, Wardens, and Comonality of the Company of Weavers, Walkers, and Clothiers within the City of Worcester." and at the Heralds' Visitation of the county, in 1682, a John Chetle was one of the Wardens of the Weavers and Clothiers. A Francis Chetle was warden in 1695 and 1696, and left by his will, amongst other charities, "a good cloth coat, as well to the companty's beadles as to the poor and approved objects, at the Michaelmas quarter meeting" of the company. The mark itself is the same on both tokens, whilst on the farthing the initial letter of his wife's name (Sarah) is omitted. The upper portion of the mark is no doubt intended for a Catherine wheel, and is supported by a shaft rising from an interlaced arrangement at the base. Boyne gives engravings of thirty-five "merchants' marks and uncertain devices," found on the tokens he describes, but the one here referred to bears a distinctive character, and is the only one of which the Catherine wheels forms a part. This device alone appears on a token of Wiliam Buffrey (No. 53), of the Lye Waste, who was engaged in the linen or cloth trade. The Catherine wheel was a charge on the Turners' Arms, and was the badge of the Order of the Knights of St Catherine, created 1063, for the protection of pilgrms on their way to and from the Holy Sepulchre. It was also a comparatively common device adopted by innkeepers at one period. An inn in Friar Street, near the Cardinal's Hat, now the Coventry Arms, bore the sign of the Catherine wheel. William Chetle, although a clothier, may have kept the inn bearing the sign. A Thomas Chetle, probably a brother, was host of the Green Dragon, at the corner of Cooken Street and High Street, in 1686.
The following interesting extract, from "Worcester in the Olden Times," may have some bearing on this subject: "The last of the interesting objects belonging to this (the Clothiers') Company is a pall, formerly used at the funeral of decesased members. It is composed of alternate stripes of embroidered velvet and tapestry. The embroidering on the velvet consists of fleurs-de-lis, eagles, double-headed, displayed; pineabpples [query, teazles], and angels with expanding wings, standing on wheels [query, St. Catherine]. The tapestry consists of figures of saints and passages from Scripture history; at the sides are four shields of arms or devices emblematical of the manufacture of cloth. It was suggested by Miss Agnes Strickland, during her recent visit to Corcester, that this pall might be a mortuary cloth used at Prince Arthur's funeral; that the embroidery is Spanish; that the pineapple, or teazle, is a pomegranate; the purple, the imperial colour; and that the wheels are Catherine wheels, introduced into the arms through Prince Arthur's marriage with Catherine of Aragon. Mr. Gutch states that this opinion is strengthened by a MS. of the time in theCollege of Arms, published in the 'Antiquarian Repertory,' which details the particulars connected with the arrival of Queen Caroline in England,
the pageants at her marriage with Prince Arthur, and his decrease, six months after, at Ludlow, including the offering of palls of cloth of gold to the corse by the lords mourners."Mr. Hartshorne, in a paper read before the members of the Archaeological Institute at Cambridge, is of opinion that the pall has nothing whatever to do with Prince Arthur, but that it consists of two copes sewed together, and that the angels represented on it refer to the vision of Ezekiel.
Prince Arthur was buried on the south side of the choir in Worcester Cathedral and a chapel was erected to his memory.
The Catherine wheel may have been suggested to Chetle, who was probably a member of the City Clothiers' Company, as a suitable device for a merchant's mark, by the fact of its appearing on the pall used at the funeral of any deceased member of the company, as well as from the fact that St Catherine was patroness of spinners and spinsters.
Cussans, in his "Handbook of Heraldry," refers to merchants' marks as "badges of great antinquity," and says, "When the right of bearing arms was restricted exclusively to Nobiles, and any infringement of this ordinance was visited(?) by severe punishment and heavy fines, citizens were permited to adopt certain devices, which were placed upon their merchandise. These were not strictly(?) armorial, but were employed, for the most part, by merchants to whom arms were denied, in much the same manner as trade-marks are at the present done. In one of the Harleian manuscripts, preserved in the British Museum, we read: 'Theys be noe armys but a marke as merchaunts use, for every man may take(?) hym a marke, but not armys, without a herawde or purcyvante.' Those by whom such marks were principally adopted were Wool-staplers, or Merchants of the Staple. . . . The devices which they adopted were generally a combination of cross and their own initials."
By a Statute 39th Elizabeth, justices were to appoint "searchers and sealers [?] cloth yearly, who shall fix their seals to it." Broadcloth was to contain the quantity mentioned on the seals, or the seller was to forfeit a sixth part. Many(?) men who refused to fix seals, and others defacing or counterfeiting, etc, to forfeit £20. Leaden seals, bearing the mark of the merchant, were attached to the cloth, indicating the maker, and assuring the purchaser that the length represented was in the piece sold, as it was impossible to open the roll without breaking the seal or cutting the string by which it was fastened. I have several of these old merchants' lead pieces by me, which bear evident marks of having at some former period been attached to packages by tape or string.
The names of Mr. Wm. Chetle, Mrs. Sarah Chetle, and Mrs. Sarah Chetle, daughter to Mr. Wm. Chetle, are amongst those found attached to the original declaration or manifesto of the "Independent" Church at Worcester in 1687. Mrs. Sarah Chetle died in 1701, intestate, her estate being valued at £22 15s. She was probably living with her son Joseph, who administered to her effects, and was indebted to her to the extent of £12. Her wearing apparel and money in purse was valued at £2, and "one trunk and one blankett" at 6s., the remainder being made up of debts.