History of Money, 1504 –– 1681


Henry the VII Issues Shillings

The English shilling has been a unit of account until Henry the VII issues shilling coins.


Henry VIII gives in to usury

King Henry VIII comes to power and relaxes the laws regarding usury. The money changers gold and silver coins became plentiful.


Copernicus, The first economist?

The great astronomer Nicholas Copernicus writes in his "Treatise on Debasement"" that it is the total number of coins in circulation not the weight of the metal they contain that determines the level of prices and the buying power of currency.


Incas have no money

Pizarro goes to Peru and conqueres the Incas. He finds that they have no system of money. Their rigid system of government eliminated the need for money. Pizarro eliminated the Incas.


The money changers have a fit

Queen Mary I takes the thrown in England. A staunch Catholic, she tightened the usury laws and the money changers withdrew their gold and sliver coins from circulation and caused the economy to collapse.


Queen Elizabeth I takes control of English money

Queen Elizabeth I succeeds Queen Mary I and decides to issue her own gold and silver coins through the public treasury. This was successful and the economy flourished.


England invents the Poor Law

England introduces a poor law. (i.e. a law about the poor, England already had it's share of not very clever laws).


The stage is set for the worlds destruction

The first central bank is established in Amsterdam.


The bankers fund a revolution, it won't be their last

Oliver Cromwell is financed by the bankers and foments a revolution in England. After much bloodshed, Cromwell purges the parliament, overthrows King Charles I and puts him to death in 1649.


The first check doesn't bounce

The earliest cheque is issued in England for 400 pounds. It orders London goldsmiths scriveners Morris and Clayton to pay Mr. Delboe.

Abbott, Clayton and Morris weren't goldsmiths but scriveners, paralegals who drew up the multiple copies of legal documents which parties to contracts had to sign. Buyers and sellers (especially of land) and their lawyers, would gather in the scriveners' office to sign the contracts. The buyers would bring their money to the signing, which the sellers would ask the scriveners to safeguard. Proceeds from the sale of sheep and cattle driven to market in London would also be left with the scriveners, rather than making the hazardous journey back to the country estates, and landowners would draw on their accounts to rent accommodation and hire staff when they came to London (as Members of Parliament). Goldsmith bankers functioned largely as pawnbrokers issuing receipts in lieu of cash and they financed commerce through bills of exchange. Clayton and Morris largely reinvented the 4th century BC Athenian concept of deposit banking with cedit transferable by cheque. [1] (hat tip Graham H)



New England ceases to use wampum as legal tender but it exists in other parts of America for another 200 years.

[1] http://www.cambridge.org/tv/academic/subjects/history/british-history-after-1450/sir-robert-clayton-and-origins-english-deposit-banking-16581685

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