How is your mental maths? When doing your household budgeting, can you quickly and easily add together pounds and pence (or dollars and cents)? In this modern day and age, the task is relatively easy – especially when using calculators or spreadsheets.
But what if you had to balance your books using pounds, shillings and pence without modern technology? As every-good English Tudor scribe knew, there was
– 240 pennies in every pound
– 12 pennies in every shilling
– 20 shillings in every pound
Then, of course, there’s also half-pennies, half-groats, groat, half angels and angels.
Look at the image above. Would you be able to quickly run down this page mentally summing it up correctly to get the total at the bottom?
Our invisible but ever present Tudor scribe within Great Dunmow couldn’t either! Every few pages within Great Dunmow’s churchwardens’ accounts there are very faint seemingly unintelligible scratchings on the page. These are our Tudor scribe’s ‘workings-out’ of his sums – rough calculations before he wrote down his totals.
You may have to zoom in at a high percentage to see the markings – but they are there and they are definitely accountancy ‘workings-out’!
Henry VIII Testoon (shilling) from 1544-1547
Great Dunmow’s original churchwarden accounts (1526-1621) are in Essex Record Office (E.R.O.), Chelmsford, Essex, D/P 11/5/1. All digital images of the accounts within this blog appear by courtesy of Essex Record Office and may not be reproduced. Examining these records from this Essex parish gives the modern reader a remarkable view into the lives and times of some of Henry VIII’s subjects and provides an interpretation into the local history of Tudor Great Dunmow.
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You may also be interested in the following
– Transcripts of Great Dunmow’s Churchwardens’ accounts – 1526-1621
– Medieval Catholic Ritual Year
– Tudor local history
– Building a medieval church steeple
– Henry VIII’s Lay Subsidy 1523-1524
– Images of Medieval Funerals
– The dialect of Medieval Essex
© Essex Voices Past 2013.