Lancashire (114C*, unlisted), Rumworth, Thomas Leigh, Halfpenny, 1670


17th century token



Thomas Leigh

Halfpenny, 1670

Obv:  THOMAS LEIGH IN RVMOVTH      =        L / T M

Rev:  HIS HALFE PENY 1670                    =        three madder bags


BW Devonshire 171, Norweb 9306.

Fair.  The only known specimen.

Ex Carthew, Nott and Norweb collections.

This specimen has been a puzzle for over 150 years.  Boyne (1858) listed it under Exmouth, Devon.  This listing was later reproduced in Williamson (1889) by the sub-editor for Devon, Henry Gill, with the comment "I can get no tidings about this token".  At some point it came into the possession of Col. R.J. Carthew, who attributed it to "Rymouth" in Dorset, a choice followed (on the ticket, at least), by its subsequent owner, Ralph Nott.  The main problem with this attribution is that there is no such place.  Nott published a note in the 1955 Numismatic Circular asking for ideas, commenting that it was of a type issued in Yorkshire, Lancashire and some of the midland counties, but did not suggest another location.  He did mention, though, that the late Sir John Hanham, a prominent Dorset collector, was certain that it did not come from Dorset.

The Nott collection was bought by the Norwebs, and in Vol VIII of the Norweb sylloge it is suggested that it might belong to Rumworth in Lancashire, noting that a Thomas Leigh was baptised there.  A Thomas Leigh from Rumworth - not necessarily the same man - also built Deane Church School.

The place name on the token is not clear, but the most likely readings seem to be RVMOVTH or RYMOVTH.  If the former is correct, then Rumworth would appear to have the best claim as the location, since frequently the spellings on tokens are closer to the actual pronunciation rather than what later became the conventional form of place names.

Norweb considers that the device on the reverse represents either three madder bags or three woolpacks.  Madder is a plant used for dyeing, and there were dyers in the Rumworth area, so it is very possible that the former is the correct interpretation.  However, there is plenty of opportunity for further research here.