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1581. It is fully described in a résumé of the act of Privy Council of 1586, prefixed to one of the following year. They are called 16/, 8/, 4/, and 2/-pieces, and are of great rarity, especially the smaller parts. As the original contract cannot now be discovered, we do not know the conditions; but as the 16/-piece weighs generally 170 grains, silver must still have been at 44/ the ounce the price fixed by the Act of Parliament of 1580. This Act further sanctioned the coinage of ten-shilling pieces, each to weigh a quarter of an ounce, and to be eleven penny fine. The type is minutely described, but no higher denomination is mentioned, nor are the usual remedies of weight and fineness allowed. These omissions are corrected by an act of Privy Council at the close of the year. dies for this new coinage were prepared by Thomas Foulis, from a likeness of the King drawn by Lord Seytoun's painter.39 These pieces were not struck at the Mint, which was then in a ruinous state, but in the house of Archibald Stewart, in Edinburgh.
In Moysie's memoirs it is stated that a certain Thomas Rorestoun was forfalted for false coining in this year.
1582. On the 25th of March an act of Privy Council authorised Thomas Aitchison, master coiner, to buy all silver of eleven penny fine for 37/ the ounce, and coin it again into ten-shilling pieces.
A curious case occurs in the Minutes of Council of 4th April. John Achesoun, late Master of the Mint, raised an action against Thomas Achesoun, the then Master, to compel him to pay £10,000, which the said John had expended for the King's use; and Thomas Achesoun is ordered to repay certain sums accordingly. At the same time the
39 Comp. Thes., Feb. 1581.
Council order pieces of an ounce weight, three-quarters, and half, as well as the quarter, lately authorised to be struck. These were to be of the value of XL/, XXX/, and xx/ respectively, and were in all respects, except weight and value, to be similar to the quarter ounce, or x/ piece. Specimen coins40 of each sort, of this coinage, were ordered to be given to the Clerk of Registers, Clerk of Privy Council, Lyon Herald, and various other officials. This seems to have been the general custom with every new issue at this period. It is difficult to account for the rarity of the forty-shilling piece at the present time. It was evidently struck in considerable quantity, and was in ordinary circulation, as in 1593 an act of Privy Council raised the value to 42/. The other coins of the series are not rare, and there is nothing in the Records to show that the issue of the 40/ pieces was more restricted than the others.
In July the Privy Council specially released Alexander Clerk, of Balbirnie, and the other partners in the late contract of the Mint, from their obligations, on condition that they should reduce the coinage of 16/ pieces to the price of forty shillings the ounce. An Act of Parliament was ordered to be passed to this effect.
A very curious "Compt of the coynehous maid be Thomas Achesoune," preserved in the Register House at Edinburgh, shows the coinage of this year. From 1st April, 1582, to 1st May, 1583, 607 st. 7 pounds of silver were coined into XL/, XXX/, XX/, and x/ pieces. The master coiner charges himself with the sum of £12,845 16s. 11d., and accounts for payments amounting to £17,928 6s. 10d.; so that as the "compt" bears, the "compter is superex
40 Compt. Thes. Reg. Ho. Edin.
pendit in the sowme of VLXXXIJ IX xjd" pounds. Among the payments we find £2,000 to John Robertson and David Williamson "for clayth tane of to the King's maiestie." Presents of specimen coins to the various officials are duly entered, and also for the "Wairdens collis twa zeir, ilk zeir XLS."
A will made by Mr. Clement Little, advocate,41 shows how many foreign coins were current at this period in Scotland, and gives their value, as well as those of the native coinage, in currency.
Crowns of the sun
Little ducats .
2 4 0
1583. In December a proclamation was made calling
in the 12 pieces, babeis and placks, as well as the
"Edin. Testa., vol. ii. 20, Feb. 1582.
34. groats and half-placks then current, and ordering them to be recoined into groats of threepenny fine at 8d. each, and half-groats corresponding. The usual remedies are allowed, and 135 of the groats are to be in the merk weight, with an allowance of eight as remedy in every merk. The type and legends are minutely specified in the act.
As very little of the billon money mentioned above was brought in by the time named, another proclamation was made in January, allowing twelve pence per ounce more.
Even this does not seem to have produced the desired effect, for in February a third proclamation was made forbidding the course of the twelve penny pieces and placks within the city and sheriffdom of Edinburgh and the constabulary of Haddington, though allowing them to be current in more remote districts in the mean time.
Many of the common people appear to have doubted the new coinage; and, to remedy this, certain lords of the Privy Council, with the Provost and Baillies of Edinburgh, and other skilled persons, were appointed to report as to whether the conditions of the contract were carried out. Accordingly, in the end of the year a proclamation was made, stating that these commissioners had found the coinage of placks conformable in all respects to the act, and equal in fineness to the half-mark and fortypenny pieces.
In this year Thomas Foullis was appointed sinker of the dies at the Mint during his life.
1584. The price of silver was raised by a proclamation of the Privy Council, in April, 1584, to 37s. 6d. per ounce of eleven penny fine, and in May, an act of Parliament was passed, ratifying and approving of the new
42 Scots Acts," vol. iii. pp, 310, 311, c. 28, 29.
coinage of placks, proclaimed in the year preceding. This act was immediately followed by another, authorising the issue of two new gold pieces of 21 carat fine, to weigh respectively 783 and 52 grains. The Lords of the Privy Council were directed to fix the type, legends, remedies, &c. These pieces were commonly known as the lion noble and the lion crown, the latter being twothirds of the value of the former. There is no mention made in the parliamentary enactment of the half lion crown (or one-third lion, as it is now called). The lion noble was to be current for £3 15s., and the lion crown for £2 13s.
In August a proclamation was made for the purpose of prolonging the time for receiving the old placks till the 15th of October, but this provision was only to apply to places, distant twenty-five miles and upwards from Edinburgh. A few days afterwards, the Privy Council considered the proposed new coinage of gold, and added to it the half lion crown. The type is minutely described, and one-sixth of a carat is allowed in each piece as remedy for purity and one grain for remedy of weight.
1585. During the following year the plague raged with great violence in Edinburgh, and the Privy Council, having convened at Dunfermline, ordered the General of the Mint to pass to Dundee with all the furniture and coining tools, and there to continue the coining of gold, silver, and alloyed money. The legend on the placks was to be "Oppidum Dundie," instead of "Oppidum Edinburgi," and the coins were to be struck "eikand ane ring within the lettres as they have alreddy outwith the same qulairevir it sall happin the said money to be wrocht." Whether any money was ever struck at