Lincolnshire traders’ tokens

Featured in:
June 2021

It seems that Louth’s origins began at least in the Saxon period, around the 600s, when it was but a small village. There is talk among local historians that Louth may have once been the site of a Roman fort but hard evidence for that has yet to be confirmed. When the Danes invaded in the 9th century they sacked Louth monastery. Louth streets ending in ‘gate’ such as Eastgate, Ludgate and Northgate are Danish in origin – ‘gata’ meaning street.

Commerce for Louth is recorded in the Domesday Book (1086) which mentions three markets: Louth, Threekingham and Partney. It appears there were no actual shops, all buying and selling was through the local market.

So in these few fragments of recorded history we pick up the thread of Louth’s commercial embryonic beginnings.

Louth had 17 traders who issued tokens. The very first was a farthing by John Chapman, ‘ironmonger’, in 1658. Like so many of these old coins, the only example I have seen of his is in such a poor condition, I have passed it by in favour of two much clearer coins, a farthing of Thomas Daveson and another farthing of Charles Greene. If you happen to come across one of these traders’ tokens in your ‘button tin’ from Louth or anywhere in Lincolnshire, I would be very interested in seeing it.

The strange, elongated pyramidal object in the centre of Thomas Daveson’s coin of 1666 is in fact a ‘sugar loaf’. That little icon indicates that Thomas was a mercer. Mercers quite often traded in other items besides cloth and fine linen.

That sugar loaf provides us with the only clue as to what this trader’s shop supplied. There are, as is often the case, no other records to give us the fuller information we would love to read. Thomas Daveson was a church warden at Louth in 1680 and 1692. Thomas signed the protestant return at Walkergate, Louth. He was married to Elizabeth and they had four children.

Charles Greene’s token shows a rather fine looking chair. Like you I would jump to the conclusion he was a carpenter. We are wrong again! County records of his marriage and property dealings describe him as an ‘ironmonger’. He paid £1 for his admission to the freedom in Louth in 1663 and was church warden in 1671.

So why a chair? This is one of those things that have been lost in the swirls of history.

My thanks to Mr M O’Bee of New Waltham Grimsby and The Spalding Gentlemen’s Society who allowed me to photograph these coins for this series.

Never miss a copy!

Big savings when you take out a subscription.

VOTING NOW OPEN for the Taste of Excellence Food and Drink Awards 2021! Categories:Restaurant of the YearWhere do you head for that special celebration and outstanding fine dining?Best Dining Pub of the YearWhere can you rely on a friendly welcome, some fantastic food, great drinks and that sense of a business in the heart of the community?Tea or Coffee Shop of the YearFrom a leisurely morning pick-me-up, a chatty meet-up with friends or light lunch to an afternoon tea treat, these businesses with their innovative services have kept spirits high.Hotel of the YearWhere have you wallowed in luxury and comfort for your holiday, wedding or special occasion?Bed & Breakfast of the YearWe are looking for charming and hospitable hosts whose premises offer outstanding levels of comfort and breakfast choices.Self Catering Establishment of the YearWhere have you found a home from home which is your secret escape in Lincolnshire?Producer of the YearTell us your favourite ingredient, product or brand which is ‘Made in Lincolnshire’.Drinks Product of the YearTea, coffee or an artisan tipple – sales have soared recently. Which is your local favourite?Best Cakes or Bakes of the YearCake makers and bakers have been an inspiration.Best Sweet Treat of the YearWhether yours be chocolate, fudge, marshmallows or jams we need your nominations.Best Independent Farm or Local Shop of the YearLocally yours, these businesses have continued providing innovative services and quality products on your doorstep.Best Newcomer of the YearWho or which new business has made their mark and overcome the challenges in recent times.We need your nominations - To vote go to ... See MoreSee Less

24 hours ago  ·