Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Old British Currency

For a long time, I was surprised to see information about antique British money in UK genealogy books. Then I discovered poor law and hearth tax records.  Before or after the changes in the relief regulations in 1834, your ancestors will appear in parish rate books either as a poor person who received the amount of money listed or as a rich person who was assessed money to pay relief.

The old pound had the value of one pound of sterling silver and was divided into 20 shillings or 240 pennies. At one time, the old penny weighed 240th of a pound.  Each shilling had 12 pennies. The symbols for each were: £ for the pound, s for the shilling and d for the penny.
In old literature, we see references to other values such as crowns, florins, and guineas. They equaled five shillings, two shillings and one pound plus one shilling (£1 1s), respectively.

I think it is best to learn how small combinations were written because that is what you will find in parish rate books.
£12 10s 6d was the notation for twelve pounds, 10 shillings and 6 pennies. It was commonly written as £12-10-6.

10s-6d was also written 10/6 and pronounced ‘10 and 6.’
10/ meant ten shillings (half a pound).

On 15 February 1971, British money went to the decimal system and one pound was divided into 100 pennies or pence. The shillings were retired.
Online you can find more information at:


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