Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

A fifteenth century English gold coin found in Newfoundland

News of the discovery this past summer of a gold quarter noble from the early years of the reign of King Henry VI being found on a beach on the south coast of Newfoundland has attracted quite a bit of attention.

Hitherto the oldest English coin found in Newfoundland was a silver half groat from the 1490s minted in Canterbury. Discovered last year in Cupids, the oldest continuous settlement on the island, the assumption was that it, like an early Elizabethan groat found earlier, was one of the coins still in circulation when Cupids was established in 1610. That could well be confirmed by its worn condition. There is more about that coin from Medievalists.net at Medieval coin discovered in Canada and from the Smithsonian Magazine at How Did a 15th-Century Coin Minted Under Henry VII End Up in Newfoundland? There is more about the settlement in the Wikipedia article which can be seen at Cupids

The new discovery - its exact location is sensibly being kept secret - is of a gold coin minted between 1422 and 1427 and with a face value of 1s 8d, so it was much more valuable than the 2d silver coin found previously. Given that it was presumably, unlike that coin, no longer in circulation as a result of the 1460s gold recoinage the question arises as to whether it had somehow remained in circulation simply because of its specie value or, more intriguingly, had it made its way across the Atlantic at a date earlier than the reign of King James I?

There are illustrated online articles about the discovery from Medievalists.net at Medieval Gold Coin discovered in Canada and from the Newfoundland and Labrador Government at Gold Coin Found on Island of Newfoundland’s South Coast May be Oldest Ever Found in Canada

There are other online reports which set out more about how the coin might have got to Newfoundland before the Jacobean colonisers. These are from CBC at Gold coin discovered in Newfoundland could be oldest English coin in Canada, from CTV News at 600-year-old gold coin discovered in Newfoundland could be oldest found in Canada, and from the Art Newspaper at Amateur historian discovers 600-year-old English coin in Newfoundland

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