Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Coins and Banknotes

Coinage in the 18th Century


Although banknotes existed in the 18th Century (see below), most transactions involved coins. Given that the smallest fixed value note was £20 during most of the century and given that most people earned less than that in a year, this was not altogether surprising.

CoinValueColloquial/Slang name
Farthing1/4 pence
Halfpenny1/2 penceha'pence
Penny1 pencecopper
Twopence2 pencetuppence
Threepence3 pencethruppence
Groat4 pence
Sixpence6 pencetanner, bender
Shilling12 pencebob, hog
Florin2 shillings
Half-crown2 1/2 shillings
Crown5 shillingsbull, coachwheel
Guinea21 shillings

Note: the guinea ceased to be minted in 1813; the sovereign (20 shillings) was not minted until 1817.


On 27th July 1694, the Bank of England opened its doors. The Bank, established by an Act of Parliament and a Royal Charter, was authorised to issue bank notes as legal tender. Notes could be redeemed by the bearer at the bank for the appropriate amount of gold or coinage.

Initially there was no fixed value for a banknote which was handwritten by the cashier for the amount in pounds, shillings and pence.

In 1725 the first fixed value notes were produced in denominations of £20, £30, £40, £50 and £100.

About 1730 new denominations of £60, £70, £80, £90, £200, £300, £400, £500 and £1,000.

In the middle of the century £10, £15 and £20 appeared but it was not until 1793 that the £5 was produced and £2 and £1 not until 1797.

Throughout the century banknotes were the preserve of the rich.

Head Cashiers of the Bank of England in the 18th Century

Head Cashier was a valuable position and was held throughout the century mostly by three men: Thomas Madockes (39 years), Daniel Race (36 years)and Abraham Newland (22 years), with some assistance from James Collier, Elias Simes and Charles Jewson. Newland carried the position into the next century for another seven years.

  • 1699-1739 Thomas Madockes
  • 1739-1751 James Collier and Daniel Race
  • 1751-1759 Daniel Race and Elias Simes
  • 1759-1775 Daniel Race
  • 1775-1777 Charles Jewson
  • 1778-1807 Abraham Newland