O’Brien Coin Guide: Maltravers ‘Patent’ Farthings (1634-36) for Charles I


In 1634 another farthing patent was issued, to Henry Howard, (Lord Maltravers) and Sir Francis Crane, their issues being known as Maltravers Farthings. Howard had married Lady Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox in 1626, so this patent was ‘passed on’ to yet another member of the royal family. The other familiar face was that of Sir Francis Crane – who had previously ‘partnered’ Lady Frances Stewart, Dowager Duchess of Richmond & Lennox in the production of the Richmond farthings.

  • Crane was also involved in the delicate marriage negotiations between the 2nd Duke of Lennox’s niece, Elizabeth Stuart, and the earl of Arundel’s heir, Henry Frederick Howard, Lord Maltravers, at the end of 1625.
  • In addition, Crane was also known to Charles I, since he was a supplier of very expensive tapestries and a major creditor – hence Charles could put business opportunities Crane’s way and extend his own period of credit at a time when the royal coffers were short of cash.

During this time there were vast numbers of forged farthings in circulation, the situation became unacceptable as the poor felt conned and unfairly treated by the authorities – which was true! It seems incredible that forgers would make money out of such a small denomination, but contemporary counterfeits are numerous and collectors of this series need to be very careful when buying.

The new Maltravers farthings differed in the following ways :-

  • The obverse shows two sceptres through a crown, and the legend CAROLVS DG MAG BRCharles, by the grace of God, of Great Britain
  • The reverse shows a crowned harp and the continuing inscription FRAN ET HIB REXFrance and Ireland, King.
  • These issues have inner circles on both sides of the coin, between the legend and the design element.
  • Four main die variations exist.

In summary, Maltravers farthings feature a double arch on the crowns. Earlier issues had only a single arch connecting the first and final cross with the center. The double arch, which is also found on one Richmond variety called a transitional issue, connects the second and fourth crosses with the center in a smaller arch below the larger arch. This distinctive design id found on both the obverse and reverse crowns. Additionally, Maltravers round issues have a further distinction in that they have an outer as well as an inner circle of beads, so that the legend is between two circles of beads. All earlier issues, as well as the Maltravers ovals, only have an outer beaded ring.

As per the Lennox and Richmond farthing before them, the normal round Maltravers pieces are supplemented by oval counterparts that were struck originally for use in Ireland.

Maltravers ‘Patent’ Farthings (1634-36) 

Maltravers Type 1 Farthing

Maltravers Type 1 Farthings

  • Maltravers Type 1 :
  • Similar sceptres and harp layout to the Richmonds but CARO now reads CAROLVS and BRIT and FRAN are substituted for BRI and FRA.
    • There is an inner beaded circle on both sides.
    • Privy mark on obverse only at 12.00 o’clock, can be a double rose or woolpack.
    • They have 6 and 7 strings respectively.
    • Die axis upright.
      • Several forgeries exist, especially where the privy mark = bell.
Maltravers Type 2 Farthing

Maltravers Type 2 Farthing

  • Maltravers Type 2 :
  • Similar to Type 1 but (same) privy mark now on both sides.
    • At 12.00 o’clock on obv. and 10.00 o’clock on rev.
    • Privy marks include: rose, woolpack, bell, lis (large), lis (small), or martlet.
    • Die axis is variable.
    • Harp strings range from five to eight.
      • Numerous counterfeits exist, some of good quality.
Maltravers Type 3 Farthing

Maltravers Type 3 Farthing

  • Maltravers Type 3 :
  • Similar style but now different privy marks on each side.
    • These can be – woolpack/rose, martlet/bell, woolpack/portcullis, lis/portcullis, harp/bell, or harp/billet.
    • Except for woolpack/rose (which may be counterfeit) all have unrotated die axis.
    • Five to seven harp string variations occur.
Maltravers Type 4 Oval Farthing

Maltravers Type 4 Oval Farthing

  • Maltravers Type 4 :
  • Legends begin at 7.00 o’clock.
    • No inner circle. Lis, large is the only privy mark.
    • It is found between the obv. sceptres and at the end of the reverse legend.
    • Seven and eight string harp variations.
    • Die axis un-rotated.

Privy (private) marks recorded on the James I & Charles I ‘patent’ farthings

In line with the previous patent farthings, the Maltravers Farthings included a series of Privy Marks which were an additional device to prevent / deter counterfeiting.

In line with the previous patent farthings, the Maltravers Farthings included a series of Privy Marks which were an additional device to prevent / deter counterfeiting.

Who was Henry Howard ?

Henry Frederick Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel PC (1608–1652) was an English nobleman, chiefly remembered for his role in the development of the rule against perpetuities. Arundel was the second son of Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel and Lady Alethea Talbot, later 13th Baroness Furnivall. After his father’s death in 1646 he became Earl of Arundel and the titular head of the Howard family.

  • Before ascending to the peerage, Lord Arundel had served as Member of Parliament for Arundel in the Parliament of England from 1628 until 1629, and again in 1640.
    • He also represented Callan in the Parliament of Ireland in 1634.
  • He had been due to inherit his mothers peerage (Baron Furnivall), but he pre-deceased her and upon her death in 1654 it was inherited by his eldest son Thomas.
  • Lord Arundel married Lady Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox, on 7 March 1626.
    • They had nine sons and three daughters
Henry Frederick Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel

Henry Frederick Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel

Who was Francis Crane ?

Little is known of Crane’s origins, though the union of his sisters with minor Cornish gentlemen lends some credence to an undocumented claim that he came from Camborne in Cornwall. In the opening years of the seventeenth century he was a servant of Sir Thomas Smith, a clerk of the Privy Council and clerk of the parliaments, who presumably encouraged Crane to obtain in 1606 the second reversion of the latter office.

  • Following Smith’s death three years later, Crane allegedly contracted to marry his widow, from whom he received £4,000 when she broke off the engagement.
  • By 1611 he was conducting private business for the 2nd duke of Lennox who, as a royal cousin and favoured courtier, may have influenced Crane’s appointment that year as clerk of Prince Henry’s Council.
  • Crane’s financial acumen was already apparent, and in March 1612 he sold for £1,000 a Yorkshire estate purchased from Lennox only two months earlier for £400.
  • His clerkship ended with Prince Henry’s death in the following November, and in May 1613 he surrendered his reversionary clerkship.

When the duchy of Cornwall’s administration was reconstituted in 1616-17, Crane secured the post of auditor-general, with a broad oversight of all Prince Charles’s finances. His new status was confirmed by a knighthood in September 1617.

Although Crane maintained his links to Lennox, who in about 1618 helped him with the financial provision for his marriage settlement, his career was increasingly shaped by his royal service. His proposal in 1619 to establish a tapestry factory at Mortlake depended on Crown backing, and was almost certainly a royal initiative, intended to emulate the works founded in 1607 by Henri IV of France.

  • Crane’s continuing favour with Charles was confirmed by his promotion in early 1623 to the Prince’s Council
  • He was returned to the 1624 Parliament as MP for Launceston as the Council’s nominee.
  • In the Commons Crane was mainly associated with Crown and duchy business.

Prince Charles’s accession to the throne in 1625 brought a general enhancement of Crane’s position. In May he was granted an annuity of £2,000 for ten years, half of which was to serve as a part-payment for existing tapestries, with the remainder intended to encourage future work. Two months later the king also provided for repayment of a loan to the Crown which Crane had been required to make in 1624.

  • At about the same time, he obtained a patent for making farthing tokens, which he held jointly with the dowager Duchess of Lennox, widow of his old patron, though enforcement of this monopoly proved troublesome.

The late 1620s saw Crane’s career reach its peak. Mortlake was now producing the highest-quality tapestries in Europe, and purchasers included Buckingham and lord keeper Williams. In the same year he again raised a loan for the Crown, this time amounting to £7,500, for which he received as security for two years the honour of Grafton in Northamptonshire. Although he seems already to have owned property in the county, where he had been a magistrate since 1625, this new grant, which was swiftly followed by the stewardship of the honour and full possession of Stoke Bruerne Park, provided Crane with a significant estate which he was keen to develop.

  • Over the next few years he converted his house at Stoke into an Italian-style villa with pavilions linked to the main block by curved colonnades, the first of its kind in England.
    • The stylistic character of the pavilions supports the tradition that another Arundel client, the king’s surveyor Inigo Jones, advised on the project. Crane reportedly also borrowed Cleyn from Mortlake to decorate the interiors.

In 1630 Dru Burton, Crane’s deputy as duchy auditor-general, approached the government with allegations that royal projects and subsidies at Mortlake had resulted in undisclosed profits totalling as much as £12,255. Crane promptly dismissed Burton, and though there was apparently some substance to these claims, the Crown showed reluctance to act on his report.

Nevertheless, Crane’s luck was turning. In the same year, the king delayed redemption of the Grafton mortgage, choosing instead to extend the grant. Crane offered to purchase some of the lands concerned and open a new tapestry works at Grafton, but Charles, having accepted an additional £5,000 from him, then withdrew from the sale and converted the money into an additional loan.

  • Although the sum now at issue, £12,500, was remarkably similar to the alleged Mortlake surplus, there is no firm evidence that the government was seeking indirectly to penalize Crane.
  • In early 1636 the king owed £2,872 for tapestries, which may explain why Crane apparently had no difficulty in February in renewing his farthing token patent, this time in partnership with Lord Maltravers, who had taken over the duchess of Lennox’s interest.

Although still vigorous mentally, Crane had for some time been suffering from the stone, and in March he travelled to Paris for surgery. The operation on 18 Apr. achieved its immediate objective, the removal of a rough stone the size of a hen’s egg. However, the wound turned gangrenous and Crane died on 26 June.

  • By his will, drawn up on 27 Aug. 1635, he bequeathed £500 to help repair St. Paul’s cathedral.
  • He also provided an annuity of £200 for his recently founded almshouses for poor Garter knights at Windsor Castle, a project arising from an earlier bequest made by his brother-in-law Peter Le Maire, and now entrusted to Arundel and Maltravers.
  • In a codicil drafted three days before his death, Crane advised his wife to settle at Woodrising, where he requested burial, and to allow his executor and principal heir, his brother Richard, to dispose of some of the remaining Grafton lands, which now represented a much smaller estate than his Norfolk properties.
  • In the event Mary Crane preferred to remain at Grafton. Richard attempted to take over at Mortlake, but sold out to the king in 1637, and failed to wind up Crane’s affairs before his own death in 1645.
  • Crane’s estates thereafter descended to a nephew and niece, his sisters’ children, both of whom married into the Crane family of Loughton, Buckinghamshire.
  • The Windsor almshouses were demolished in 1863, and of Stoke Park only the pavilions now survive.

Sir Francis Crane (1579-1636), by Sir Anthony Van Dyck

Sir Francis Crane (1579-1636), by Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Three portraits of Crane still exist: a contemporary drawing by Lucas Vorsterman, an engraving from a painting by George Jameson and, most appropriately, a likeness in tapestry, supposedly designed by Van Dyck. (above)


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