The Richmond Shilling

The tradition whereby the Mayor of Richmond presents coins to the elderly residents of the town annually in December has its origins in the ancient charter of Elizabeth I in 1576. Christopher Clarkson the 19th century writer in his “History of Richmond” relates that the Audit Money was part of the Fee Farm Rent paid annually to the Crown, to the sum of £12-18s-0p. He goes on to state, “it is now paid by the Mayor for the time being to the acting Receiver General of Crown Rents, who by a grant from Queen Elizabeth I in her 1576 charter to the town, returns the same to him and he distributes it annually to poor tradesmen, decayed housekeepers and other indigenous persons of the town”.

The town council continue to pay annually to the Crown the Fee Farm Rent, but alas for many years now this has not been returned to the Mayor by the Crown Agents. The Audit Money is now provided by the Mayors Fund, and was until 1985 paid in the form of a 50p coin. In 1986 the new Richmond Shilling was first issued. The qualification for the receipt of the Audit Money has changed greatly since the days of Clarkson. Today any lady or gentleman over the age of 60 years, and resident within the town and parish of Richmond is entitled to collect his or her Audit Money from the Mayor.

The main attraction of the coin apart from its uniqueness is its modem form. In size and colour it is based on the old Florin (the old two shilling coin) with a high polish which greatly adds to its appearance. On one side are the arms of Richmond with the Latin inscription, “MATER OMNIUM RICHMONDARIUM” (The mother of all Richmond’s) ELIZABETH REGINA 1576. On the reverse is depicted a view of the Castle and the River Swale taken from a 17th century woodcut. Designed by the Town Clerk Alan M. Wilcox and produced by Birmingham Mint. During the building of HMS Richmond at the Swan Hunter Yard, a Richmond Shilling was places in the keel of the ship by the then Mayor Councillor Ella Devlin.

The interest in the coin was considerable; many requests were received from collectors, but until the Mayor decides otherwise the residential and age qualification will remain the only way to obtain a coin. Two of the coins, at the request of the British Museum, have been placed in the National Coin Collection in London.

In the year 2000 the coin was issued in gold form, and in Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee year it was again issued in gold form with the Queens head replacing the depiction of the Castle.

© Copyright of Alan M.Wilcox Richmond Town Clerk 1985-1997.