Traders’ tokens of Lincolnshire

So, only two coins to cover ‘K’ this month but next time it is ‘L’, which will include our capital, Lincoln, and an absolute cornucopia of coins and traders.

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.

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February 2021

As Colin Smale continues to move through our county villages alphabetically, he now comes to the letter ‘K’. Only two villages that produced traders’ tokens come into play here: Kirton-in-Lindsey and Kyme (South Kyme).
Each village produced only one token, that of Eustace Hooker of Kirton and George Chapman of South Kyme.

Eustace Hooker of Kirton-in-Lindsey
It was once thought that Eustace Hooker was a Quaker but thanks to a letter from the vicar of Kirton-in-Lindsey dated 2nd February 1893 we now know that he was in fact a mercer and church warden there. His trader’s token, a halfpenny, was a pretty ordinary, unassuming coin with his name on one side and the place and date on the other but they are quite numerous, which means his business must have been quite profitable.

George Chapman of South Kyme
George Chapman’s coin however is a little more interesting. An extremely rare coin, it depicts a sheep on one side with the usual ‘His half peny’ on the other. Underneath this inscription you can see ‘GCK’. The GC is George Chapman and the K (which does look like an H on the coin pictured due to wear) is for Katherine, his wife.

The little village of South Kyme is 10 miles north-west of Boston and only half a mile long. Being a fair way inland I was intrigued to see on the map a ‘Ferry Lane’ and ‘Ferry Farm’ – that kind of thing is always worth a second look. The river that runs west is called the River Slea. Once known as ‘Kyme Eau’, it runs up to Ferry Farm, which sits at the end of Ferry Lane. It was once all navigable and had been for many centuries but stone to build Tattershall Castle is said to have been transported along this waterway, so clearly this village was not the sleepy backwater that it is today. Ferrybridge Farm was once known as Halfpenny Bridge (arrowed) which may have been the toll to cross over, hence the name.

Sheep were the backbone of early Lincolnshire, so George was certainly in the right business – but what business? As this trader’s coin depicts a sheep, you might reasonably have thought ‘butcher’ but digging further into the records we discover that he was in fact a ferryman. He not only owned the ferry but also the rights to fish that section of the river.

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