During the reign of Charles I, (1625–1649), farthings continued to be produced under the king’s licence. Towards the end of the reign of James I, in 1623 Ludovic, Duke of Lennox acquired the additional title of the Duke of Richmond, but died a few months later without an heir. The farthing patent passed to his widow, Frances Stewart, Dowager Duchess of Richmond & Lennox – who had as partner in it, Sir Francis Crane. This patent was confirmed to them on the 30th of May, 1625, by Charles I. upon his accession. Thus, the first ‘farthing’ issues of Charles I are consequently called Richmonds.
- The obverse shows two sceptres through a crown, and the legend CARO DG MAG BRIT — Charles, by the grace of God, of Great Britain
- The reverse shows a crowned harp and the continuing inscription FRA ET HIB REX — France and Ireland, King.
Like its predecessors, the Richmond Farthing has several variations – in this instance, there are 6 major varieties, plus 1 minor variation (Type 1b) and 2 transitional ‘mule’ variety that incoporate the following :-
- Transitional 2/3 variety – a mule from Type 2 and Type 3 dies
- Transitional 3/4 variety – a mule from Type 3 and Type 4 dies
The Richmond ‘Patent’ Farthings (1625-34)
- Richmond Type 1a : Obverse has a re-cut James dies (CARO over IACO). Obverse crown has 5 circlet jewels, reverse has 9. Eagle-headed harp (sometimes hook-fronted) with 5 or 6 strings. Recorded privy marks are :- coronet and crescent with mullet. Pm at 12.00 o’clock, on obverse only. Die axis may be rotated or upright
- Richmond Type 1b : CARO over IACO. 9 circlet jewels either side. Eagle-headed harp with 5 or 6 strings. Recorded privy marks – dagger and mascle. Obverse pm at 12.00 o’clock. Die axis upright.
- Richmond Type 2 : The most numerous of the RFT types with production spanning 6-7 years. 9/9 jewels,. 5 to 7 strings. Die axis variable – sometimes for the same privy mark. Eagle headed harp – sometimes hook-fronted. Privy marks :- lombardic A (with & without pellet), annulet with pellet within, bell, castle, cinquefoil, crescent, cross with pellets in angles, cross calvary, cross patée, cross patée fitchée, cross patonce, cross patonce in saltire, cross saltire, dagger, ermine, estoile, eye, fish hook, fleece (slot), fusil, halberd, harp, heart, horseshoe, key (vertical), leaf, lion passant, lis, martlet, mascle, nautilus, pike-head, rose, shield, star, stirrup, thistlehead, tower, trefoil, tun and woolpack
- Richmond Type 3 : Similar to type 2, but for apostrophe stop punctuation. Only two privy marks known – lion rampant and trefoil. The former has 6 harp strings, the latter 5 – on a hook-fronted harp. Die axis still rotated. The obverse circlet jewels on the trefoil coin are carelessly cut and can appear to number only eight.
- Richmond Type 4 : New crowns with 5 circlet jewels either side, the central one being a diamond. The eagle headed harp has been discontinued and replaced by one ornamented with 7 beads. Only one privy mark used – a double rose. Die axis unrotated. One version reads BRIT; the other BRI. All have six strings.
- Richmond Type 5 : Another new design, still with 5/5 jewels, but the central one is now usually oblong. The harp has changed to a scroll-front design, again with 6 strings. Double rose remains the only privy mark. Die axis upright. No BRIT option. One rare version reads FR’A.
- Richmond Type 6 : The rose privy mark is retained, as is the scroll-fronted harp. This is found with 5, 6 or 7 strings. Die axis is variable. The distinctive difference to type 5 is that both crowns now have seven round jewels.
- This type marked the end of the Richmond round issues which were to be superseded by the Maltravers range. As a result of their abrupt ending several strips of type 6 Richmonds were never punched or cut out after striking.
- These elusive left-overs survive as individual square pieces, and are also known to exist in strips of between two and nine coins.
- Studies have been carried out related to the various die combinations extant in those finished pieces which were in circulation.
Privy (private) marks recorded on the James I & Charles I ‘patent’ farthings
Who was Frances, Duchess of Richmond ?
Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond & Lennox (1647–1702) was a prominent member of the Court of the Restoration and famous for refusing to become a mistress of Charles II of England. She was the daughter of Walter Stewart, or Stuart, a physician in Queen Henrietta Maria’s court, and a distant relative of the royal family. She was born on 8 July 1647 in exile in Paris, but was sent to England in 1663 (after the Restoration) by Charles I’s widow Henrietta Maria to act as maid of honour at Charles II’s wedding and subsequently as lady-in-waiting to his new bride, Catherine of Braganza.
- The great diarist Samuel Pepys recorded that she was the greatest beauty he ever saw.
- She had numerous suitors, including the Duke of Buckingham and Francis Digby, son of the Earl of Bristol, whose unrequited love for her was celebrated by Dryden.
- Her beauty appeared to her contemporaries to be equalled only by her childish silliness
She eventually married the Duke of Richmond, also a member of the Stuart family, in March 1667. It is possible she had to elope to do so, after being discovered with him by a rival for the king’s affections, Lady Castlemaine. The now Duchess of Richmond, however, soon returned to court, where she remained for many years; and although she was disfigured by smallpox in 1669, she retained her hold on the king’s affections. It is certain, at least, that Charles went on to post the Duke to Scotland and then to Denmark as ambassador, where he died in 1672.
Following the war with the Dutch, Charles had a commemorative medal cast, in which her face was used as a model for Britannia; this subsequently became customary for medals, coins and statues.
- She continued to appear on some of the copper coinage of the UK until the decimalization of the currency in 1971
- She also appears on the fifty pence piece