This Day in History: 1484-12-18

On 18th December 1484, a message from Thomas Wrangwysh, Mayor of York, addressed to the Earl of Lincoln, Lord President of the Council of the North, arrived at Sandal Castle. John Stafford and his son, Richard had been arrested (and confessed) on charges of counterfeiting French crowns and ‘uttering’ (passing) them within the city. Under a statute of Edward III, false coining was high treason punishable by a gruesome death. Wrangwysh requested the Earl ‘to show your commandment by our servant this bearer how I shall deal with the said John and with his son’. Lincoln requested Stafford to be sent to him to be examined with his son kept at York. However, York’s city council baulked at its authority being questioned and requested Stafford, ‘after your high pleasure and wisdom’ to be remitted to York ‘to be punished after his demerits, according to the rights of the said city’. Albeit Stafford’s (and son’s) fate is not known, it is likely his defence of finding coining irons in Derbyshire and counterfeiting foreign coins and not English ones was not a felony and would not become so until the reign of Henry VII!