Since I first perused Mr Polixfins discourse about paper-credit, I have been endeavouring to get an account of ye quantities of hammered money of Gold & Silver wch have been coyned from time to time since the reign of Edw. VI in order to make a judgment upon the causes of the increase & descrease of the coynage but have not yet been able to compass my designe the records thereof before {ye}|th|e year 1660 being taken out of the Mint. And therefore least I should detein his paper too long in my hands I have here set down such Observations upon it as at prsent occur to me from such accounts of ye coyn as are commonly known or remain in the Mint

I agree wth him in the main of his Argument set down in sect 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, that too much paper credit in proportion to money is not safe & every nation where such credit is large & upon ye increase & money upon the decrease, ought to take care before it be too late \least/ it become bankrupt by the sinking of its credit at once when there remains not money enough to support it. For p{illeg}|a|per credit is a sort of riches & riches incline men to luxury & luxury promotes the expence of forreign far-fetcht commodities & by consequence the exportation of money to pay for them, & while paper credit does the business of money \& brings money to the Merchant to be exported/ the money may go away insensibly & not be missed till it be too late.

But in examining by such accounts of ye Coynage as have been heretofore given in by command of ye House of Commons or now remain in ye Mint whether this credit has been of more advantage to England by increasing its trade or disadvantage by increasing its luxury, I do not find that it has hitherto done us any great {luxu} dammage. Out of those Accounts Mr P. (sect 14, 15, 16, 17) represents that 20 years before Notes had a currency vizt from 1640 to 1660 there was coyned in the Tower above 200000li per an in {clo} in silver money 400000li communibus annis, that from 1660 to 1680 there was not coyned above 200000li per an including the Harp & Cross money & the price of Dunkirk, & that from an. 1680 to an 1695 there was not coyned above 80000li \per an/ including the money from the wreck & that since the year 1695 we have coyned very little forreign Bullion so that the coynage since the curren <608v> cy of Notes, that is since 1660 hath been upon the decrease.

Here he sets down only the coynage of silver whereas that of Gold ought also to be considered, & in ye first twenty years he tells us that 400000li per an was coyned in silver alone wheras this|a||t| summ was the whole coynage of both gold & silver together; & the main periods & causes of the increase & decrease of the coynage he considers not. For the coynage was very great in the reign of K. Cha\r/les the 1st, then very small untill the enacting of the coynage d|D|uty, afterwards very great against untill the late war with France & by that war became very small untill the enacting of the coynage Dut\(except the recoynage)/ for the last ten years. |And these vicinities of ye coynage shew that its increase & decrease has depended upon other causes then the growth of paper credit {illeg}|

The Gold & silver coyned between the death of K. Charles ye first & the return of K. Charles ye second was & afterwards recoyned was about a million, that is about 88000li per an, wch makes in the first 813 years \of that period/ about 733300li. Subduct this from the gold & silver monies coyned from the last of March 1638 to May 1657 wch according to one of ye a|A|ccounts mentioned by Mr |P.| Polixfin was 7733521li. 13s. 4d12, & there will remain about seven millions coyned from ye last of March 1638 to ye death of K. Charles the first, which was about six hundred & forty six thousand pounds per an. For in this Kings reign Gold & Silver flowed into or Mint from Spain for provisions wch we supplied them with untill peace was concluded between Spain & Holland anno 1648. But afterwards the coynage abated & became but the 8th or 10th part of what it had been before: so that in the next 18 years from the death of K. Charles ye 1st t{illeg}|i|ll the making of the Coynage Act there was coyned in both gold & silver (including the money for Dunkirk) but 1228917. 12. 4 recconing Guineas at 21s 6d, which coynage was but about sixty eight thousand pounds per an. But since the making of that Act the coynage has been exceedingly augmented constantly great & upon the encrease untill the French war put a stop to it. For in the first nine years of that Act that is from Decemb. 31 1666 to Decemb 31 1675 it was after the rate of 250000li per ann & in the next nine years it was after the rate of 500000li per ann & in the next four years vizt to Decemb. 31 1688 it was after the rate of 680000li per an taking one year with another. Whence it follows

First that the Coynage Act has been of vast advantage to the nation.

Secondly that the coyn notwithstanding the clipping melting & exporting thereof & the disadvantageous trade with India France & the Northern Crowns, the rebuilding of London & the luxury of <609r> the English did notably increase till the beginning of the late French war, & was more upon the encrease at the beginning of that war then at any other time since the raign of Charles ye1st

Thirdly that therefore Paper credit till the beginning of that was did the nation more service by promoting trade then disservice by promoting luxury. And by consequence the check put to the coynage in the beginning of that war must rather be ascribed to that war then to paper credit. For paper credit works gradually & slowly but that check was on a sudden The coynage of gold fell \then/ in two years time from six hundred thousand to fifty thousand pounds per an & that of silver \from one year/ from 96000li to 2000li. And this 2000li was not imported by ye Merchant but bought by the Master & Worker. For silver began the{nc} to go out of the nation faster then the Merchant brought it in & still continues to do so by the ill effects wch that war has had upon or trade.

Mr Lowndes reccons that in the reigns of Q. Elizabeth K. Iames & K. Charles ye 1st there were coyned 15110 millions of silver monies: whereof all the crowns & all the money smaller then sixpences are long since lost gone & also all the half crowns of Q. Elizabeth. And no doubt many of the shillings & sixpences of Q. Elizabeth & half crowns shillings & sixpences of K. Iames & K. Charles 1st were also lost before the reconage {sic} of ye hammered money. This loss Mr Lowndes computes at above ten millions but by subducting the 935 millions wch remained at ye recoynage it appears to be but about 525 millions. It happened by ye wearing away & losing of all the small money, by Seaman Merchants & Travellers carrying pocket money along with them in their voyages & leaving it abroad, but melting down the largest & weightiest pieces for goldsmiths uses or to be recoyned or of later years to be exported by the East-India company, by burying summs of money or accidntally losing many pieces & in these last 10 lately by exporting some of it for defraying such charges as the French was occasioned. Let us suppose that of these 525 millions three fourth parts were lost before the war & one fourth part or about 113 million in the first seven years of the war, & this 113 million added to the 814 & 913 millions will make about 9712 millions of sterling silver in all the hammered monies genui{illeg}|n|e & counterfeit remaining in the nation in the year 1689 according to ye in{illeg}trinsic value thereof & about 1023 millions in the tale of all the genuine part of those hammered silver monies

Vntill the end of the year 1689 silver bullion came to the Mint in good plenty & ye whole coynage of milled silver money amount to <609v> 3690051li. 18s. 00d of wch if we suppose about a fift part to have been then wasted partly by seamen merchants & travellers carrying pocket money beyond sea & partly by culling out the weightiest pieces for the use of Goldsmiths or to be recoyned or exported to India (for the milled money being weighty was much fitter for the {illeg} Cullers use then the old worn hammered money) there will remain about three millions wch with ye 9712 millions of hammered money makes about 1212 millions of silver money (good & bad) not in tale but according to ye standard weight & intrinsic value thereof in or near the year end of the year 1689 when I reccon we had most silver money in ye nation.

But in the late recoynage there has been almost 6900000li of milled money made out of hammered money & plate & by the proportion of the old milled money to ye new at present in payments (wch proportion I have not much observed but lately found the old in a certain parcel an eighth part of the whole) if the old be recconed at seven or eight hundred thousand pounds & the wast of all the milled moeny by exportation since the year 1696 at as much or perhaps at a million, there will remain now in the nation about 634 millions. Deduct the 634 millions from the 1212 millions & the whole loss of silver monies since the year 1689 will remain about 534 millions

But all this was not lost to the nation some part of it was turned into gold. The gold coyn Guineas coyned till Decem 31 1689 amounted to 6843056. 11. 9 recconing a Guinea at 21s 6d. If the weighty Guineas culled out & sent back to ye Mint be recconned about 18 of ye whole there will remain about six millions one million\eight part/ of wch (or not much less) may be supposed at that time current abroad in Holland & other neighbouring parts of Europe. The remaining 514 millions added to the 1212 millions of silver monies makes the whole cash of England at yt|ye| beginning of ye late French war when we were richest to be 1734 millions in intrinsic value besides broad gold coyned before the death K. Charles ye 1st, & some few Pistolls.

From Decemb. 31 1689 to Decemb. 31 1699 there has been coyned in Gold 2059384. 06. 07. If an eighth part thereof be subducted as weighty guineas culled out & sent back to the Mint & to the remainder be added the French & Spanish Pistols & ye Guineas abroad which returned\came/ hither |from abroad| {t|w|}hen Guineas were at 30s a piece & afterwards at 22s (considering that abo & all wch (considering that above a million has been coyned here out of forreign Gold monies & that Pistolls are here at a higher rate\value/ then Guineas) <610r> I'le reccon at about a million & an half, the whole increase of or Gold since Dec 31 1689 will be about 314 millions. And this added to the 514 millions in Guineas recconed before will make about 812 millions in Guineas \& Pistols/ in England at prsent. Add this to the 634 millions of silver & it makes 1514 millions of Gold & Silver milled monies now in England. Which deducted from the 1734 millions wch we had in 1689 leaves a loss of 212 millions of Gold & Silver together made\befallen us/ since that year. \Had we lost ten millions since we {w}ere richest (as Mr P reccons) — 212 millions./ So that|en| instead of gaining 5 or 6 thousand hundred thousand pounds per an as we did before ye war, we have lost between 2 & 3 hundred thousand pounds \per an/ during the war, & this by the decay of Trade, losses of or Merchants, charges of naval stores & other expenses abroad during the war & since \the war/ by ye two East-India Companies contending to replenish ye nation wth Indian Goods & break one another. But as for paper credit, that was so far from hurting us that the want of it during the recoinage brought us into the greatest difficulties. It was then found by experience that the want of it made the Interest of money very high wch was very chargeable to the government \in borrowing/ & put a|ye| great|est| damp upon trade and at this credit recovered, interest fell & trade revived. And if interest be not yet low enough for the advantage of trade \& the/ designe of setting the poor on work & encouragement of all such business as is profitable to the nation (as \diver/ understanding men think it is not) the only proper way to lower it is more paper credit till by trading & business we can get more money. To lower it by Act of Parliament is a violent method, & force is apt to put trade & business out of humour. The law should rather follow & comply with the free & voluntary course of interest then attempt to force it. Let it be considered therefore what \rate of/ Interest is best for the nation & let there be so much credit (& no more) as brings down money to that interest. For this is the due proportion of credit to make the nation flourish.

We have recconed or losses in silver alone to be \almost six millions wch is/ much greater then that in \both/ gold & silver together, the Gold encreasing while the silver was exported. And this certainly proceeded from some other cause then paper credit. In the 18 years before the enacting of the Coynage Duty there was much more silver coyned then gold. In the first nine years of that Act there were coyned in gold monies 1154487li. 8s. 10d (recconing a Guinea at 1li. 1s. 6d) & in silver monies 1105103. 4. 4 wch is very nearly an equality. In the next nine years there were coyned in Gold monies 3055473li. 5s. 8d & in silver 1647517li. 8s. 8d wch is almost two \of gold/ to one of gold\silver/. In the next five years there were coyned in gold monies 2414239li. 4s. 5d & in silver 578021li. 2s. 6d wch is above four \of gold/ to one of gold.\silver./ And in these last 10 years there has been coyned little or no forreign silver, & above two millions of gold besides <610v> the Guineas & Pistolls wch came from abroad{.}{,} while much of or silver has been exported. If this descrease of the coynage of silver & running of or cash into Gold be recconed the effect of paper credit or of Luxury or ye late French war, the cause of the distemper {illeg}\seems to be/ mistaken. Those causes might diminish or riches in general but not alter the propertion of gold to silver. This alteration proceeds rather from the cheapness of gold in China & Iapan, gold being there almost twice as cheap as with us so that or Merchants make a considerable advantage by purchasing Iapan gold of the Dutch & of late a greater (above {{illeg}|60|} per cent \or above/) by purchasing China gold of the natives.

And if this be the case there is no remedy \A check upon paper credit will not help us/. Our silver must\will/ go to China & Iapan till gold is cheaper\dearer/ there or cheaper with us, a|A|nd \indeed/ its or interest to encourage this trade with Chine much more then that wth India\let it go thither{sic}/. F China is inclined to take off or manufactures wch India is not \& therefore is fitter to be tended with,/ & the trade for their gold (wch seems now commencing) must greatly increase or coyne, being as profitable to the nation as to ye merchant himself if\provided/ we bring home the gold we purchase \there (as we have now begun to do)/ & lay it not out in India. And tho this trade should diminish or silver yet if it leave us but silver enough for market money & workmens wages the gold will serve for all other uses.

We are\Paper credit is/ therefore instead of re not to {rej}ect \{illeg}check|be| rejected as ye cause of/paper credit {illeg} the |be|cause of the decrease of or silver|.| but rather to preserve it {deal} it Tis a good Tis rather to be valued as a good remedy of or late loss & want of silver|present|\against or want of what we \have/ lost or of what may be further usefull to use/, & good Physitians reject not good remedies because they may kill but study how to apply them with safety & success. T It\Credit being a sort of riches/ inclines a nation to luxury {illeg} in {illeg} {illeg} in forreign commodies {sic}\an expensive luxury as riches generally do/ & so far is \of/ a poison|ous| \nature/ but let this \ill/ quality be chekt & {illeg} by {wch} good \Orders &/ laws well executed & then it becomes a \very safe &/ soveraign remedy. And to find out \& offer propose/ such |Orders| the \the/ business of {time &}|& laws is| the {illeg}\perpetual/ buisiness of the Coucil {sic} of Trade of wch Mr P is |a most able member &| therefore I leave to to their wisdom. And to yors. I submit the recconings set down above to be corrected as you & Mr P. shall think {new} fit.

I would propose therefore 1 that ye two East India c|C|ompanies be no more united nor the \whole/ trade of any more given to one company but divided between them both, the {illeg}|old| Company to trade to East India properly so called as far as Molucca the other to {illeg} Molucca & all\for Molucca to/ China & all places \to all paces from ye cape of good Hope to India as far as Pegu or Malacca/ the new to China & all places beyond Pegu\ or Mo {sic}Molacca{sic}/. For this \will/ put an end to ye |{illeg}| contention between ye two Companies wch does us so much hurt & & make them both more governable then a singple c|C|ompany can be. Foir the {illeg}|A| single Company might be sufficient while ye trade was in its infancy yet but now it is grown {illeg} so great it makes a single c|C|ompany too potent so that\for the/ |[|& their interest in Parliament too great for good laws strong|]||governmt| so yt good laws against their interest ca scarce get through a Parliamt|.| wch Divide them {&} that you may govern them & \then you may/ encourage or discourage ye trade of wch company you please, as you shall find it for ye advantage of ye Nation|,| &\for/ this will make them both {illeg} consult the nations interest as well as their own to gain ye favour <611r> of the governmt.

Paper Credit is a present remedy against poverty & like the best remedies in Phyick works strongly & has a poisnous quality. For it inclines the nation to an expensive luxury in forreign commodities. But good Physitians reject not strong remedies because they may kill but study how to apply them with safety & success. To correct\Let/ that luxury|io||us| \expense/ {illeg}|b|e corrected & then by good Orders & laws well executed & then credit becomes a very safe & soveraign remedy. But To find out & propose such orders & laws is not to be done the perpetuall business of the council of Trade of wch Mr P. is a most able member & therefore I leave it to their wisdom. And to yors I submit the recconings set down above to be corrected as you & Mr P. shall think \fit/, I being in some things not sufficiently informed of|in| matter of fact.

© 2018 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

Privacy Statement

  • University of Oxford
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • JISC