World Coins

Seven Bishops medal offered in auction

Archbishop of Canterbury William Sancroft and seven bishops who followed his lead, were imprisoned by King James II, and are the subject of this silver medal.

Images courtesy of Nomos Ag.

hen someone is sent to jail it’s usually for something they did, a crime they committed, a particular action.

In the case of William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1677 to 1690, King James II imprisoned him in the Tower of London for something he wouldn’t do: read the king’s “Declaration of Indulgence” that exempted Catholics and dissenters from penal statutes, according to Christopher Eimer in British Commemorative Medals and Their Values. For this he was charged with seditious libel.

A 1688 medal honoring the archbishop, and seven other dissenters also imprisoned, is cataloged as Eimer 288 in the book. A cast example, Eimer 288a, realized a hammer price of 150 Swiss francs ($156 U.S.) in Nomos’ Obolos auction Aug. 21.

The silver medal weighs 28.7 grams and measures 50 millimeters.

The obverse depicts Archbishop Sancroft, and the seven supporting bishops appear on the reverse: Bishops Henry Compton (middle, London); proceeding clockwise around: Francis Turner (upper right, Ely), Thomas Ken (Bath), Sir John Trelawney (Bristol), Thomas White (Peterborough), John Lake (Chichester), and William Lloyd (St. Asaph).

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