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As one’s research approaches those ancestors living in the 17, 18 and 19th centuries, one faces monetary numbers no longer in use in the United States.

In order to create a reasonable description of the lives and times of those ancestors it is often useful to describe their wealth or lack thereof, to envisage what a particular cost in earlier times and to relate those dollars or coin to today’s coin.  For the latter, a useful site is www.measuringworth.com.

What follows are the  uses of coin and their worth in the English world of pounds sterling.

d is the abbreviation for a penny
s is the abbreviation for a shilling

Farthing = 1/4d (1/4 penny)
ha’penny = 1/2d
Penny = 1d
half-groat = 2d
thru’pence = 3d
groat = 4d
tanner = slang term for 6d
shilling = 12d
Florin = slang term for 2s (2 shillings)
Half a Crown = 2s 6d
Crown = 5s
Noble (1344-1464) = 80d (1/3 of a Pound)
Angel (1464-1645) = 80d (1/3 of a Pound)
Mark = 160d (2/3 of a Pound)
Pound = 20 shillings or 240d
Guinea = originally One Pound, in 1717 revalued at 21s
Sovereign = (1489-1605) worth 30 shillings; when reintroduced in 1817 it was worth 20 shillings

2 Responses to “The Pounds Sterling in Family History”

  1. Charles Fleming says:

    “thru’pence” is more accurately “thri’pence” or threepence – I sincerely doubt if it was ever written or pronounced as “thru”.

  2. jacqui says:

    Well that shows how much regional dialects differ. I remember a threppenny bit was also called a thruppenny bit depending on how posh you were. This is Derbyshire in the 1960s by the way.

    What coins were in use at any one time is a matter for further investigation by whoever comes across reference to them. The farthing was no longer in use by my time (born 1950s) although my school arithmetic books had problems in them with farthings in.

    The crown (5s) was also not in use at this time and I believe the half a crown coin was also phased out in advance of decimalisation to make the transition easier as we kept the same coinage for some time just called it by different names. And of course the new 50p piece was slimmed down at some stage to a shadow of its
    original self at some point probably at around the time of the introduction of the £2 coin. The ten bob note of course disappeared with the introduction of the 50p piece.

    A florin was called a two bob bit by the way. And of course a shilling was a bob. hence the expression “I bet he’s’ got a bob or two”

    And this is just in recent history.

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