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1581 the half-thistle dollar. 38 Perhaps the extreme rarity of this merk piece may have caused this confusion. It is not described in Lindsay's Descriptive Catalogue, though the specimen existing in the Sutherland Collection was communicated to him ; and in his notice of the thistle dollar he has confused the Euglish and Scottish weights. A specimen of the merk piece existing in my own cabinet, formerly in the Wigan Collection, was noticed lately in the Numismatic Chronicle, and I have since got another one of 1578. The act of this year fixes the price of the ounce of fine silver at 36), and the ounce of fine gold at £21.

1580. An act of Privy Council, dated the 28th day of April, altered the act of Parliament of the preceding October, and ordered, in place of the gold piece therein authorised, another coin, double the weight and value, to be called the Scottish ducat (now commonly called the bareheaded noble). The price of fine gold is fixed by this act of Council at £21 the ounce, the same rate as formerly. Shortly afterwards (4th May) another act of Privy Council authorised the coinage of six hundred stone weight of silver into half-merk and forty-penny pieces, “ beirand the like forme circumscription wecht and fynes as they are presentlie currant within this realme.”

In October a payment occurs in the Treasurer's accounts34 to G. Hay for some repairs in the "cunzehous," but without any details. From another entry36 in the same record, it appears that F. Gray was the graver of the dies of the new coinage of gold.

On the 27th of February the Privy Council and Estates

* P. 115, Pl. 35, fig. 14.
*4 Comp. Thes. MS, Reg. Ho.
36 December, 1580.

convened in Parliament passed acts36 ordering all the base money within the realm (except the stamped placks and pennies), to be reformed to the fineness of eleven deniers, with two grains of remedy as well under as above; and to be recoined in such form as the Privy Council might order. It appears from an act of Privy Council in 1581, that they ordered the coinage of the 16/, 81, 4/, and 2/ pieces (of which the type is correctly given), of eleven penny fine. The weights, &c., are referred to a contract which, it will be seen, cannot now be found. These pieces were not minted till 1581. The act of Parliament also sanctioned the issue of the ducat, and fixed the price of silver at the Mint at 44/ per


Authority was also given to the Privy Council to let the Mint and its profits.

1581. The Privy Council, in July, ordered, proclamation to be made in all the chie, boroughs of the country to the effect that all should receive the late coinage of thistle two-merk pieces and gold ducats, and that it was illegal to break down any coined money of the realm.

Four months later, we find an act of the Scottish Parliament 37 putting an end to the contract about the money which had been entered into with Alexander Clerk, of Balbirnie, and others, evidently the one above noticed, and recalling the silver coinage they had issued. It appears from a later Privy Council minute that this contract was to last for three years, but it was put an end to on account of the coinage being so unprofitable.38 The coinage was the crown thistle series, with the date

36 Vol. ii. p. 191, P. C. R., 27 February 1580.
37 Vol. iii. p. 215, c. 10.

July, 1582. Acts iii. p. 402.


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. The 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 £12,845 168. 11d., and accounts for payments amounting to £17,928 68. 10d.; so that as the “compt” bears, the “ compter is superex

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pendit in the sowme of vmLxxxIJLi 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. Thus :,

£ s. d. Crowns of the sun

2 2 0 Rose nobles

6 0 0 Harry nobles .

4 16 Angel nobles

3 8 0 Portugal ducat

= 25 0 Abbey crowns

2 0 English crowns

2 2 Little ducats

2 4 0 Demy

2 0 Riders

2 16 0 Two-pound piece

3 6 8 Unicorns

2 0 0 Pistolets

2 0 0 Ryalls

8 6 Lions

3 6 8 Three-pound piece

4 0 Forty-eight shilling piece 2 16 Double ducat.

4 16 Of Silver coins we find :

Countermarked xxx/ pieces. 36s. 9d.
Countermarked xx/ pieces

24s, 6d.
English testoons.

6s. 8d. Scottish testoons

6s. 8d. Dollars

28s. x/ piece

12s. 3d. 1583. In December a proclamation was made calling in the 12d. pieces, babeis and placks, as well as the

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" Edin. Testa., vol. ii. 20, Feb. 1582.

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