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ordered to be called in by the act of Parliament, could not be reissued without great loss, commissioned Thomas Foullis to go to London and make a contract with Sir William Bowes, to mint the coinage as directed by the act. Minute directions are laid down in the contract as to the manner of proceeding.
1592. In 1592, an act of Parliament was passed", ordering that the borough dues, which had hitherto been paid in usual currency of the kingdom, be in future paid in sterling money.
1593. Parliament met at Edinburgh, and on the 3rd of April directed certain commissioners to look into the coinage, with power to issue a new one, if deemed advisable.
The result of this commission was embodied in an act50 which provided for the coinage of a billon piece of one denier fine, with the usual remedies, to be current for four pence. The type is minutely described (Lindsay, 17, 52). Eight score were to be in the merk weight, with eight pieces as remedy. This would make the full weight of the coin about 23 grains troy of the modern standard. As the amount coined was limited, these fourpenny pieces are very rare. On the 17th of January an act of Parliament was passed,51 which ordered a new coinage of gold and silver. The provisions of this act were embodied in the contract entered into immediately afterwards with the town of Edinburgh.
On the 21st January52 the General of the Mint, Sir A. Napier, of Edinbillie, appeared before the Privy Council and recorded his opinion that the price offered for the silver at this time, was too little to make it profitable to
49 Vol. iii. p. 561.
50 Vol. iv. 27, c. 81.
coin money eleven penny fine.53 fine.53 A few days later a contract was made between the King (with the consent of the Lords of Privy Council) and the Provost and Town Council of Edinburgh, in which it was provided that all the gold be reduced to the fineness of 22 carats, and reissued in pieces weighing six to the ounce, and each to be current for £5. These coins are now known as "Riders," and appear to have been issued down to 1601. The silver was to be made eleven penny fine, and reissued in 10, 5/, 2/6, and 1/ pieces, at 50/ the ounce. The profits of the Mint were let to the town of Edinburgh for two years and three months, from the 1st of February, 1593; and the tacksmen were empowered to place their "cunzie house" within any town or place in the realm. One hundred and ten thousand merks were to be paid at the weekly rate of one thousand merks as rent.
1594. On the 22nd of April Parliament ratified and approved of the coinages directed in the previous year, and of the tack of the Mint to the Provost and Council of Edinburgh, and further confirmed the former acts relating to bullion.
The Privy Council in July prohibited the currency of the old money under heavy penalties; and in November appointed certain commissioners to consult and advise regarding the form and order of the exchange of gold and silver, and to report to next Parliament.
Birrell notes in his Diary55 that the 4d. placks were proclaimed on the 7th January, which seems a long time after the passing of the act authorising the coinage. He also says they were discharged by proclamation on the 19th, which, if it is the case, will be another reason for their great rarity.
53 P. C. R. p. 282. " Vol. iv. p. 85, c. 74, 75. 55 P. 32.
In January the Privy Council again ordered, in more stringent terms than before, the former coinages no longer to be received as currency, and especially the old Rose Noble of England, which had been made current by a special proclamation (not preserved) in Aberdeen, for the temporary purpose of paying the soldiers there.
1596. No change seems to have taken place in the coinage for some time. In May, 1596, an act of Parliament is found against false coiners.56 A curious document, with the date August, 1596, is preserved in the Register House. It contains the prices at which all kinds of gold and silver coins are to be brought into the Mint, and the royal profit upon the coinages issued. From this it appears that every stone weight of gold coined of 22 carat fine produced to the King £563 3s. 4d., or at the rate of 44/ per ounce. Every stone of silver of eleven penny fine produced £38 188. Out of every stone of gold twelve pounds were to be minted into £5 pieces, and four pounds into the halves. The amounts to be struck in each sort of coin out of the stone weight of silver are left blank in the original, except the 12d. pieces, of which one pound in every stone was to be minted. The prices of the gold per ounce are laid down as follows:
This table gives an idea of the coins current at the time, and supplies some blanks in the fineness of some of the native gold coins, of which the records have not been preserved. Of silver coins we have
Spanish Ryalls of 11 dwts. 4 grs. fine, at 46s. 8d. the ounce.
It is curious to find the xl/ piece current, while the merk piece of 1578, 1579, 1580, and the 2/ piece of 1581, are even then out of common circulation.
At the close of this year, on the 4th of March, an act of Parliament gave power to certain commissioners57 to confer regarding a new coinage, keeping the present fineness and value; but differing (if thought fit) in proportion and type. Commissioners were also appointed to
treat with the commissioners of boroughs regarding the payment of the customs.
1597. In April, 1597, Ja. Acheson presented an overture to the King, recommending a coinage of small money in pure copper. This paper is very interesting, for in it he states that he has discovered "a new forme of wirking and wark lumes thair to," so that "thair sall be na pece of money ather gold, siluer, or copper, acording to thair quantitie and wecht that sall be ane grane heavier or lichter, thikker or thinner, braider or naroer, ane nor another. And farder, the money sall be sa weill prentit, that na pece thairof sall want ony thing of the superscriptioun." He also recommends the King to repair his own Mint, and begs him "to visite your awin wark as ze was accustumit to do."
The following month the Scottish Parliament met at Dundee, and passed several measures relating to the coinage. The first of these appoints certain commissioners to frame a table of the prices of all the gold and silver, according to their value, weight, and fineness, and to affix the same in the house of exchange, that all may know the rates at which the money was to be current.
The next act59 laid down the value at which various coins were to be taken after the 17th of May. Silver of xid. fine was to be at 50/ the ounce; the new xxx/ pieces were to pass current for 37/6, as they weighed only threequarters of an ounce.60 The ounce of gold of 22 carat was to stand at £30. All foreign coin was to be brought into the Mint and exchanged; an ounce of coin of xid. fine being given for an ounce of bullion of xiid. fine; the difference being the profit.
58 Scots Acts," vol. iv. p. 119.
69 Vol. iv. p. 121. p. 184.