17th Century Trade Tokens

Composed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester from CLDS Film January 2011 - 10 Records - Last update March 2017

Dorchester Trade Token dated 1669

Around the outside it says "DORCHESTER ARMES OF" on the front
and "A DORCHESTER FARTHING" on the back

From the 17th to the early 19th century in England these were commonly issued by merchants in times of acute shortage of coins of the state to enable trading activities to proceed. The token was in effect a pledge redeemable in goods but not necessarily for currency. These tokens never received official sanction from government but were accepted and circulated quite widely.

In England the production of copper farthings was permitted by royal license in the first few decades of the 17th century, but production ceased during the Civil War and a great shortage of small change resulted. This shortage was felt more keenly because of the rapid growth of trade in the towns and cities, and this in turn prompted both local authorities and merchants to issue tokens. These tokens were most commonly made of copper or brass, but pewter, lead and occasionally leather tokens are also found. Most were not given a specific denomination and were intended to pass as farthings, but there are also a large number of halfpenny and sometimes penny tokens. Halfpenny and penny tokens usually, but not always, bear the denomination on their face. Tokens would also normally indicate the merchant concerned, either by name or by picture. Thousands of towns and merchants issued these tokens between 1648 and 1672, when official production of farthings resumed and private production was suppressed.

More background can be found at The Token Corresponding Society or "17th Century British farthings" or "Trade Tokens issued in the 17th Century" via these links.


Extract from "The Municipal Records of the Borough of Dorchester" by CH Mayo published 1908; page 510:-


1668/9 February 5th
:- "This day ordered and desired that Mr. Jasper Samwayes one of this Company doe speedily procure twenty pounds in Copper Farthings for the beniffet off the pore (i.e.poor) of this Borough and that the Towne Armes be ingrauen on one side, and 'HD' on the other syde, and on the side where ye Townes Armes are, to be ingraven round, the armes of Dorchester and on the other side where 'HD' a Dorchester Farthing and vnder HD the date of ye Lord." C15. (The meaning of this monogram 'HD' was solved by Rev J.H.Ward in a communication to Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, Vol.iii., p.104, as standing for "Hospital of Dorchester". The order of the letters may be accounted for by supposing they represent the name in a Latin form, as Hospitium Dorcestrense".

    The meaning of "HD" as expressed in this extract seems to have been contested by some collectors of these coins but is a perfectly reasonable explanation as the Dorchester Hospital was not a hospital in the sense that we would know it today as caring for the sick but an institution established by the efforts of John White following the disastrous fire of 1613 when they had to rebuild half the town (about 170 houses). The Hospital was first established in 1617 and was a kind of working house ‘for setting to work the poor children of the borough’. John White certainly saw it as a means of improving their education if only in a rudimentary form and teaching them some basic skills to hopefully make them more self sufficient - all laced with a good dose of spiritual guidance. It was still classed as such in 1774 so was being used for the poor in 1669 when these coins were issued. 'The Corporation' as it was known had a long history of taking care of its poor and If there was a shortage of small coins at that date they most certainly would have stepped in and issued them, and the Hospital was the institution to which they would naturally have turned to control distribution as it was directly accountable to them anyway.

    Note small size of farthings
There is one further reference to these coins in the Borough records on page 511. It is the only reference that I have come across to a half penny-


1668/9 Feb 5th. "Mr Lawrence Rightn, haueing a certaine Brasse coine which he passeth for halfe pence, there being noe such Inscription on them, promiseth, in case they be put downe or doe not passe, will retake them att the same rate he now passeth them, being halfe pence Signed Lawrence Righton C15
    Lawrence Righton was a cutler by trade who had joined the Company of Freemen in 1621 and became its Govenor in 1651. He had a shop in the high street and appears in municipal records for minor encroachments which show he also traded at times as a more general ironmonger.


    Thomas Allen [Alen] : His farthings [undated] carried The Mercers' Arms in a dotted or plain circle on one side THOMAS ALLEN and 'TA DORCHESTER TA' on the other. He is shown as a witness on charter 699 dated 29th Nov 1661 and signed the 'Address' made to his excellency King Charles II on 31st August 1681. He was buried in St Peters Churchyard on 12th December 1695.

    Simon Eyre: His farthings dated 1667 had the inscription 'SIMON EYRE' and 'DORCHESTER 1667 SIMON EYRE' on one side; there was no legend on the reverse 'Three quatrefoil leaves and a boot', filling the field. The device on the reverse is no doubt intended for a representation of the armorial bearings of a branch of the family of Eyre, for which see Edmondson's "Complete Body of Heraldry," ed. 1780.

    Simon EYRE (b.1641/1649 - 1672) , was the son of Robert EYRE of Osmington a yeoman, and was apprenticed by his father on 16th May 1659 (when he was between the age of 10 and 18) to Richard ATKINS an apothecary in Dorchester for a period of 7 years to learn the trade. Unfortunately the parish registers for Osmington have not survived prior to 1679 so his baptism is lost. His father Robert EYRE also died at Osmington between 18th June 1664 when he wrote his will and 21st Nov 1666 when it was proved. Under his father's will Simon received £20, a fully furnished feather bed and his father's biggest brass pan. Simon married Martha PHELPS at St Peters Church in Dorchester on 26th March 1668. They had the following children baptised at St Peters (1) Martha Eyres bap 9th Feb 1668/9 and buried there 03 Jan 1669/70 (2) Richard Eyres bap on 21st November, 1672 (3) Robert Eyres bap 19th Dec 1671 and buried there the same day. (4) Simon Eyres bap 30th Oct 1672 and buried on 21 Nov 1672. Simon Eyres Senior was also buried on 21st Nov 1672 and left a will which I have transcribed below:-

      The Will of Simon EYRE of Dorchester
      Dated 6th Nov 1672 - Proved 19th Aug 1673

      November the Sixth 1672 In the name of God Amen I Simon EYRE of Dorchester in the County of Dorset being weak in body but blessed be God in the perfect use of my understanding and memory doe make this may last Will and Testament in manner and form following:-

      First: I bequeath my sinful and sorrowful and repentant soul into the hands of my gracious God hoping to ontain mercy of him through Jesus Christ in whome is all my trust and confidence

      My Body I bequeath to the earth at the interring of which I desire a funeral sermon may be preached by Mr REYNER to whom I bequeath for his pains twenty shillings

      For my worldly goods I thus dispose of them not knowing in particular what my estate may amount unto I cannot tell what certain sums to apportion to each legatee. But my will is that my whole estate be equally divided between my wife (whom I make the sole executrix of this my last Will and Testament) and my two children. And in case either of the two children die in their nonage my wife and the surviving child to enjoy the part left to the chilkd that shall so die by equal portions.

      And I desire my loving friend Mr. Richard SPICER of Blandford to be assistant to my wife in the appraiseing of the goods in my shop in putting my book debts in order also min putting them to the best advantage as an opportunity shall be offered and to the said Mr SPICER I bequeath a gold ring of ten shillings as a remembrance of my love to him.

      Into thine hands O Lord I commend my spirit.

      Simon EYRE

      Signed and sealed in the presence of Samuel RAYNER, The mark of Cirill JONES

      Probate: Probate of this written testament was approved at Lonmdon on the 19th day in the month of August 1673 etc etc when administration was granted to Martha EYRE relict of the deceased and executrix named in his will.

    Hutchins (ii. 397) says that some years ago there was picked up in the school garden of the Holy Trinity, Dorchester, a signet-ring with "Simon Eyre" on it, and round it, "Dorchester, 1657,".

    Richard Fellows: His farthing dated 1666 carried the image of 'Three sugar loaves' and the inscription 'RICH FELLOWS IN' on one side and 'R S F DORCHESTER 1666 R S F' on the other

    Thomas Hall: His farthings dated 1656 & 1666 carried the image of 'A Castle' and the inscription 'RHOMAS HALL IN' on one side and 'The Grocers' Arms' DORCHESTER 1656 (or 1666) on the other. His marriage is recorded in the Registers of St Peters on 8th November 1655 :- "Mr. Thomas Hall and Mrs. Elizabeth Row of Melcome were married in Melcome." He was elected as a Capital Burgess of Dorchester on the 5th October 1666 and served as its Bailiff 1667/8. He held his position as a Capital Burgess until he resigned it on 29th September 1676 and was buried in St Peters on 20th Sep 1693.

    William Maycock: His farthings dated 1658 & 1666 had the inscription 'The Grocers' Arms and WILLIAM MAYCOCK' on one side and 'W M IN DORCHESTER 1658 or 1666 W M' on the other. These tokens were probably issued by a father and his son as the Registers of Holy Trinity Dorchester show two burials of a William Maycock one on 17th Apr 1663 and another on 9th Jan 1687. See right hand picture below.

    The first token is reputed to be by Richard Cheney of Dorchester and dated in 1666 but I cannot locate any information on such a trader.
    There were several traders who had these initials such as Richard Coker the goldsmith or Richard Churchill the Woollen merchant.
    Second William Maycock

    John Roy [Roye]: His farthings dated 1660 had an inscription for ' The Upholsterers or Weavers Arms' and IOHN ROY 1660 on one side and 'I R IN DORCHESTER I R' on the other. The Municipal records for Dorchester do refer to a Robert Roy a needle maker by trade and his wife Anne and son John as a Lessee of a burgage in Dorchester in St Peters Parish on 17th August 1620 and robert Roy was admitted as a member of the Company of Freemen on 14th Nov 1621. It would appear that these farthings may have been issued by his son John. [Note at this date the letters 'I' and 'J' were interchangeable as they were in latin]

    Jasper Samways [Samwaies]: His farthings dated 1668 had an inscription for The Grocers' Arms and IASPER SAMWAYS IN on one side and 'I S conjoined and 1668' DORCHESTER GROCER I S 1668 on the other. He has already been briefly mentioned above. He also issued 'half pennys' as shown below.

    Half penny dated 1668 Iasper Samways of Dorchester

    Jasper Samways was the son of Richard Samwaies MA (d. 1624) a graduate of Corpus Christi College who was ordained a deacon and priest in All Saints church Oxford on 3rd July 1597. Jaspers father was appointed Rector of Wembworthy with Brushford in Devon on 15 March 1608 a position he held until his death which is recorded in the ecclesiastical records on 14th Aug 1624. His elder brother also called Richard Samwayes BD (1614/15 - 1669) like his father went to Corpus Christi college where he matriculated 2nd March 1631/2 at the age of 17. Richard attained his BA 1633/4; MA 1636/7; and became a fellow of the college in 1638. He was ordained at Exeter Cathedral as a deacon on 9th June 1639 and appointed as a priest on 20th Sep 1640. He was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity in 1661 and appointed Rector of Meysey Hampton in Gloucestershire where he remained until his death 21 Aug 1669.

    Unlike his father & brother Jasper did not attend college. He was very young when his father died in 1624 and he was placed into an apprenticeship with Richard Bury a grocer of Dorchester on 9th January 1633 for a period of 10 years to learn the trade. He appears to have married and had children in Dorchester 1654-1669 (The burial of a Jasper Samways in St Peters church on 16th June 1654 is assumed to be a son but needs to be checked against the original register). He served as Bailiff of Dorchester 1671/2 and was elected as a Capital Burgess on 5th October 1668 becoming Mayor of Dorchester in 1674.

    Phillip Stansbie [Stansby]: His farthings dated 1668 had an inscription 'The Salters' Arms, dotted circle round the shield' and PHILLIP STANSBIE on one side and P S conjoined on the other.

    David Underdown in his book Fire from Heaven refers to Philip STANSBY as being one of those inspired to build a better society along with Rev John WHITE (1575-1648) and the likes of Hannah GIFFORD and that he died at Dorchester in 1686. Fortunately he left an extensive Will from which we know among other things that he was born at Lyme Regis where the STANSBY family had lived for many years. The earliest record that we have is his apprenticeship in the Municipal Records of Dorchester which took place on 30th September 1629 and this is likely to be when he first lived in Dorchester. He was apprenticed to a long established grocer in the town by the name of Richard BURY who was looking for a new assistant as an existing apprentice Thomas EVANS had completed his 10 year term the month before. From this record we know that Philip had been named after his father but unfortunately most of the early parish registers for Lyme Regis have not survived so we do not know the fate of his father and immediate family although from his Will he seems to have had at least 1 surviving spinster sister in 1686. Corporation rules required apprentices to be between the age of 10 and 18 so he would have been born between 1611 and 1619.

      Before we leave Richard BURY it is worth noting that Philip joined another apprentice Henry CRABB who was 3 years into his 8 year apprenticeship and that Philip signed up for a similar 8 year term. In 1632 Richard BURY took on another apprentice, William WHITE who was the son of the Rev. John WHITE's elder brother Josias. He was apprenticed by his widowed mother Ann DRAKE (as she remarried after his father Josias had died in 1622/3). Ann after the death of her 2nd husband had moved with her children to live in Dorchester under the protection of the Patriarch. So for the last 5 years of his apprenticeship he worked alongside the nephew of the Patriarch.

    Philip STANSBY (1611/1617 - 1686) after completion of his apprenticeship soon became an influential member of Dorchester's reforming elite. It is clear that around 1647 he married into the prestigious LODER Family. His marriage record does not seem to have survived but other records give us a number of clues. First Alice Loder in her Will in 1664 conveniently refers to him as her son [At this date it was normal to refer to the husband or wife of your children as a son or daughter] and she appointed Philip as one of her executors. On 15th June 1652 there is also reference in the Municipal Records of Dorchester of John LODER giving Philip Stansby licence to take down part of a building (of which John Loder was possessed) situated in High South street. This was probably the Rev John LODER(1626-1673) who was Rector of Fordington from 1649-1656 and another member of the same family. Marriages at Fordington have not survived from 1640 to 1663 because of the Civil War and it seems likely that this is where he would have married. We know his wife's name to have been Joan as she was buried at Holy Trinity Church on 7th October 1667.

      They had the following children baptised at Holy Trinity
      (1) Philip (1648-1657) bap at Holy Trinity on 23rd April 1648 & buried there 24th Dec 1657
      (2) Elizabeth (1649-1659) bap at Holy Trinity on 20th Dec 1649 and buried there 26 Aug 1659
      (3) John (1651-1652) bap at Holy Trinity on 14th March 1651/2 and is thought to have died circa 1652 when registers are missing
      (4) Mary (1653-1682) bap HT 25th October 1653. She married Mr John Gollop at HT on 28th May 1674 and produced 4 children prior to her death at the age of 29
      (5) Rebekah (1656-1675) born on 28th March 1656/7 & bap HT on 4th May 1656. She died at the age of 19 being buried at HT on 15th March 1675/6
      (6) Anna (1658-1659) bap HT 27th Feb 1658/9 and buried there 29th Aug 1659
      (7) Elizabeth (1660-?) bap HT 10th Jun 1660. She married Thomas Sheppard and is the main beneficiary under Philip's Will.
      (8) Although I have not been able to locate a baptism they appear to have had another male child they also named Philip as he was buried at HT on 2nd March 1663.


    The Civil war (1642-1651) was a difficult time to raise a family but Philip as a reforming puritan progressed throughout being elected Governor of the Company of Freemen in 1648 and 1652. In 1654 when Oliver Cromwell was looking to ensure that Royalists were not holding positions of power in Dorchester, James GOULD refused to be elected Mayor and was removed as a Capital Burgess of the town. His replacement was Philip STANSBY and his position as a Capital Burgess was formally recognised on 24th August that year. He served as Bailiff of Dorchester for the year 1655/6 and was elected Mayor of Dorchester in 1657 with David Underdown providing some background to the running of the Corporation and Stansbie's role within it in his book Fire From Heaven. After the restoration of Charles II, as might be expected, his influence started to wane but he was elected as Bailiff for a second time in 1660/1. He remained a staunch puritan however and avid supporter of the Rev William BENN (1600-1680) . When he had been Mayor in 1657/8 for example he had refused to let the Baptists meet in any of the churches in Dorchester. The Corporation Act of 1661 fulfilled the Cavalier Parliament's aim of purging their enemies from borough governments with commissioners being appointed to to remove all members of corporations who refused the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, would not receive the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England, repudiate Parliament's 1643 oath of loyalty, the Solemn League and Covenant, and swear that it was unlawful 'upon any pretext whatsoever to take up arms against the King'. The Commissioners who included the towns new MP, John CHURCHILL took their time but arrived in Dorchester in September 1662. As a result Philip Stansby and a number of others lost their role at the center of the Corporation.

    While the Corporation was being transformed so too were the parishes. Under the new Act of Uniformity ministers were required to declare their loyalty to the re-established Church of England by 24th August 1662, and take the same oath and declaration as in the Corporation Act. When Ironside carried out his visitation in September neither William Benn (Rector of all Saints), George Hammond (Rector of Holy Trinity and St Peters) or Joshua Churchill (Rector of St Georges) had done so and they were all ejected from their livings. With Charles II, driven from London by the great plague in 1665, he took the opportunity to tour Dorset from his Court which he had established at Salisbury. It is significant that whilst in Dorchester, where the ejected Ministers all still had the active support of many of their parishioners, he ceremonially gave royal assent to what later became known as the 'Five Mile Act'. William BENN was the most outspoken dissenting Minister in Dorchester at this time and he and the others all had to leave the town for a time.

    Throughout these troubled times Stansby continued to trade and when coins became scarce he issued his own trade tokens in 1668. Rev William Benn initially went to Maiden Newton but by 1669 he was back preaching to a congregation in Fordington. On 1st May 1672 Charles II issued his declaration of indulgence and seventeen days later William Benn was licensed to preach as a congregationalist at the house of Philip Stansby and he was therefore one of the founding members of Dorchester's Congregational Church. In 1673 he was executor & Overseer to the Will of James Palfrey whose father had kept the brewhouse in Dorchester. In 1681 he refused to add his name to the list of 317 inhabitants of Dorchester that signed the Oath of Loyalty to Charles II. In 1684 he was even prosecuted for absence from church for 3 months (not surprising given he was a dissenter). He was buried at Holy Trinity in Nov 1686 - See transcription of his Will which was proved 10th Feb 1687 (Prob 11/386).

    Sources:- A2A Copy Will held at DHC Ref. D/ASH:A/F22 1686/7 + Nat Archives PROB 11/386 : ' Fire from Heaven' by David Underdown pages 215-217, 219, 237, 241-243 245,255, 258 & 264 : MRD pages 383, 408, 412, 437, 445, 496, 569, 639, 645, 716-7: Parish Registers Holy Trinity Church Dorchester

    Samuel Williams : His farthings dated 1658 had an inscription for The Grocers' Arms and SAMVELL WILLIAMS on one side and S H W IN DORCHESTER 1658 S H W on the other.

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