Saturday, April 21, 2018

Simon Hancock (2nd from left) with some members of the P&M Committee
At our meeting of Friday, April 20th, our speaker Simon Hancock gave a fascinating talk on the ‘Pembroke Mint’- a little known aspect of Pembroke’s past. He told us that coinage was introduced by the Anglo Saxons:  the Welsh princes did not mint coins. Continued by the Normans, it was during the reign of Henry I that silver pennies were minted in Pembroke itself.  In the Middle Ages coins were struck by hand – each one individually which meant that no two were identical. This gave opportunities for the criminal practice of clipping coins for the silver – an offence which deserved (in the medieval mind) savage punishment in the form of castration or the cutting off of the right hand.  Clipped coins devalued the coinage and devalued confidence: such an offence against the currency was regarded as equivalent to an offence against the king, treason no less.  In France there are accounts of people being boiled alive for such a crime.  
The first person known to have struck coins in the Pembroke Mint was a man named Gillopatric.  He is mentioned in a set of accounts known as the Pipe Rolls, an invaluable document which records amounts of money paid into the royal treasury and gives real insight into twelfth century life.  It would seem that Gillopatric had transgressed but somehow managed to get off pretty lightly with a hefty fine!