17th Century: 'Thomas Hurst of Cuckfield' tokens in local circulation

Updated: Aug 30, 2021


England suffered from a chronic shortage of small change from the mid-17th to the early 19th century. The British government failed to mint enough small change for commerce, creating hardship, especially for the urban poor. Copper ½ farthings, farthings, halfpennies and pennies essential for small sales were scarce. This forced local merchants and municipalities to produce their own tokens for daily commerce. As long as merchants accepted the tokens for purchases at face value, the public would accept them in change. These privately produced token coins were made of lead, tin, brass or copper. Large numbers were in circulation from the reign of Elizabeth I to the reign of George III.


Thomas Hurst was a mercer (a dealer in textile fabrics, especially silks, velvets, and other fine materials); The West Sussex Record Office keeps documents showing he was involved in a transaction at Cuckfield in 1638, buying land from Richard Burt, butcher. https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/c58ccfa4-888f-4c97-913f-d285a305efa0


Photograph from auction catalogue (THE COLLECTION OF SUSSEX 17TH CENTURY TOKENS FORMED BY TIM EVERSON)

https://www.dnw.co.uk/auction-archive/special-collections/lot.php?specialcollection_id=641&lot_uid=286176



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