obverse and reverse of a copper alloy coin
Obverse and reverse of a Lennox farthing

On May 19th 1613, King James I of England granted a royal patent to Lord John Harrington to produce small copper alloy farthing tokens. When Lord Harrington died, the patent passed to Ludovic Stewart, Duke of Lennox. Stewart produced his own farthings called Lennox farthings from June 28th 1614 until his death in 1624.

Similar to Lord John Harrington, the Duke of Lennox issued five different types of farthings while he was the patent holder. Like the Harrington farthings, Lennox farthings also have a crown and two crossed scepters on the obverse and a crowned harp on the reverse. They differ from Harrington farthings in the placement of the legend on the obverse side. On both Harrington and Lennox farthings, the legend on the obverse reads “IACO DG MAG BRIT” (meaning “James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain”). On Harrington farthings, the lettering IACO is placed such that the cross on top of the crown points between the A and C. On Lennox farthings, the lettering is offset and starts at the top, slightly to the right, or at the bottom.

The farthing pictured here is the only Lennox farthing in the Jamestown collection. The period of time when Lennox farthings were produced and used in England (1614-1624) was a time of growth at Jamestown. At the time, Virginia experienced an expanding population, the rise of the tobacco-based economy, and an increasingly busy port. However, the little coinage dating to this period that has been found at Jamestown suggests the use of goods rather than coinage in the market economy. 

On its obverse side, the cross on top of the crown points to a Tudor rose symbol which denotes the end and beginning of the phrase. The letter I is slightly offset to the right. The symbol, called a privy mark, was changed regularly on the farthings to confuse counterfeiters. The reverse side of this farthing is quite worn, making it difficult to determine which type of Lennox farthing this is but it is most likely a Type 2 or 3, dating it to c. 1616-1623. This Lennox farthing was found in a pit feature that was used for mixing mortar, possibly for use in the construction of Governor Argall’s addition in 1617.