The Coinage of Newark 1645- 46

Newark declaring to be ‘for the King’ at the start of the Civil War, the siege at Newark was a very significant a point in the lose of the civil war for Charles I.

By late 1645 the Royalist cause was almost  a breaking point. On the 14th June 1645 the King’s army had suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Parliament’s ‘New Model Army’ at Naseby. In the following months, one by one the Royalist garrisons were besieged, surrendered or overwhelmed. But the King remained defiant. Newark was a strategic ‘north Midlands’ town, which inevitably attracted the attention of Parliamentary forces. On hearing the news, while he was at Newark in October 1645, that the King’s nephew Prince Rupert had surrendered the town of Bristol. King Charles summoned Rupert to Newark to explain himself. There was a confrontation at the Governor’s house in Newark’s market square and the Prince left with 300 of his most loyal supporters – and never fought in the war again.

Parliament attacked Newark in November 1645 and the King fled to the relative safety of Oxford – the makeshift Royalist capital. On 26th November the Scots Army under General Alexander Leslie advanced on Newark and sealed off the approaches to the town from the north and west. At the same time the Parliamentary forces garrisoned their soldiers in the villages to the south and east of Newark. The encirclement was effective but slow.

At this time, Lord John Belasyse, whom the King had installed as Governor of Newark, took the opportunity to provision the town, and in addition, to overcome the shortage of coinage he minted siege pieces from silver plate. Some donated by wealthy citizens and, some from the silver plate from the Castle itself. Dated either 1645 or 1646 they appear in the following denominations: sixpence, ninepence, shilling and halfcrown. All show a crown on the obverse with C&R to either side, and the mark of value underneath (V1, 1X, X11 and XXX). The crown can be of two types i.e. a normal arched crown or a crude flat shaped crown. The reverse shows the legend and date in three lines: i.e. OBS: / NEWARKE OR NEWARKE/1645 or 1646. In 1646 towards the end of the siege, gilt plate was used. These coins rarely turn up but when they do they are well treasured. Particularly sought after with ‘plate lines’ and/or hallmarks on them from the original plate. These coins were made in the familiarly unique diamond shape. All are rare, and especially so in good condition.

In March and April 1646 the Parliamentary commanders realised that they needed to increase the size of the siege forces to achieve good results, and eventually they pushed slowly further towards the town’s centre.

General Poyntz, the Parliamentary commander had a strategy which was clearly to bombard the town into submission. As malnutrition and disease plagued the defenders, matters became grim. At the same time a forlorn King Charles decided to ride north and surrender himself to the mercies of the Scottish Army.

Eventually, on 6th May 1646, the King ordered Newark’s Governor Belasyse to surrender. With the fall of Newark the English Civil war was effectively at an end.