Posts Tagged ‘warden of the exchanges’

William of Gloucester and the Royal Mint, a contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy

Friday, October 12th, 2012

William of Gloucester had been the king’s goldsmith since 1252. His role in the royal mints and exchanges went back to May 1255, when he was granted one of the dies in the London mint. The dies of the London and Canterbury mints were traditionally farmed for a payment of 100s. a year each, which seems to have allowed the die-keepers to pocket a proportion of the profits of the coinage. In 1256, William was a member of a consortium of moneyers who took over the farm of all eight dies at the London mint.

In October 1257, as well as being appointed warden of the exchanges, William was granted a die at the Canterbury mint. He thus achieved a dominant position in control of the coinage, while continuing to receive commissions from the king as a goldsmith.

William retained his posts in the exchanges during the early years of the baronial reform period, but official inquiries into the management of the exchanges uncovered several dubious practices, suggesting that a margin of perhaps 3d. in the pound was being taken by the moneyers. This sum, the profits of the foundry, was then claimed for the crown, and the practice of farming out the dies was ended. Early in 1262, William was replaced as warden of the exchanges.

Despite this apparent disgrace, William continued to work as the king’s goldsmith until his death, late in 1268 or early in 1269. His executors’ account, in the 1272 pipe roll, includes such expenditures as £80 for painted panels for an altar at Westminster Abbey, and 20 marks for a painted canopy around the king’s bed.