Thomas Stanley (Royal Mint)

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Steven van Herwijck medal of Thomas Stanley obverse.jpg
Steven van Herwijck medal of Thomas Stanley reverse.jpg
Portrait medal of Thomas Stanley (obverse and reverse) by Steven van Herwijck, 1562.

Thomas Stanley (died 15 December 1571) was a goldsmith and officer of the Royal Mint in Tudor England. Stanley rose to the rank of Under-Treasurer of the Mint at the Tower of London in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. [1]

Goldsmith metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals

A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Historically, goldsmiths also have made silverware, platters, goblets, decorative and serviceable utensils, ceremonial or religious items, and rarely using Kintsugi, but the rising prices of precious metals have curtailed the making of such items to a large degree.

Royal Mint minter of coins in the United Kingdom

The Royal Mint is a government-owned mint that produces coins for the United Kingdom. Operating under the name Royal Mint Ltd, the mint is a limited company that is wholly owned by Her Majesty's Treasury and is under an exclusive contract to supply all the nation's coinage. As well as minting circulating coins for use domestically and internationally, the mint also produces planchets, commemorative coins, various types of medals and precious metal bullion. The mint exports to an average of 60 countries a year, making up 70% of its total sales. Formed over 1,100 years ago, the mint was historically part of a series of mints that became centralised to produce coins for the Kingdom of England, all of Great Britain and eventually most of the British Empire. The original London mint from which the Royal Mint is the successor, was established in 886 AD and operated within the Tower of London for approximately 800 years before moving to what is now called Royal Mint Court where it remained until the 1960s. As Britain followed the rest of the world in decimalising its currency, the Mint moved from London to a new 38 acres (15 ha) plant in Llantrisant, Wales where it has remained since.

Tudor period historical era in England coinciding with the rule of the Tudor dynasty

The Tudor period is the period between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales and includes the Elizabethan period during the reign of Elizabeth I until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the House of Tudor in England whose first monarch was Henry VII. In terms of the entire span, the historian John Guy (1988) argues that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors" than at any time in a thousand years.



Thomas Stanley was the third son of Thomas Stanley, of Dalgarth, Cumberland, and his wife Margaret, daughter of John Fleming. He married Joyce, daughter of John Barrett, of Aveley, Essex, and widow of Sir James Wilford, soldier and politician. Their only daughter, Mary, married Sir Edward Herbert (c. 1542–1595), second son of the Earl of Pembroke. [2] [3] Her son William Herbert, 1st Baron Powis (1572–1655) was Lord High Steward to Elizabeth I and is a candidate for "Mr WH", the dedicatee of Shakespeare's sonnets.

Aveley town in Essex

Aveley is a small town within the Thurrock unitary authority in Essex, England, and forms one of its traditional Church of England parishes. It is a suburb of London located 16.3 miles (26.2 km) east of Charing Cross in London and within the eastern bounds of the M25 motorway.

Edward Herbert was an English politician, who was the second son of the Earl of Pembroke. In 1587, he purchased the lands of the abeyant barony of Powis from his distant relative, Edward, bastard son of the 3rd Baron Grey of Powis - the direct descendant of the last prince of Powys Wenwynwyn.

William Herbert, 1st Baron Powis Welsh politician

William Herbert, 1st Baron Powis was a Welsh politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1629.


Stanley was appointed as one of the Assay Masters of the Mint in March 1545, following a restructuring and expansion of the Royal Mint under Henry VIII associated with a major effort to prop up the economy by debasing the currency. [4] The policy of debasement was continued by Lord Protector Somerset early in the reign of Henry's son, Edward VI, but after Somerset's fall the Earl of Warwick implemented a plan to reform the currency in an attempt to control rampant inflation. [5] Stanley was one of a consortium of Mint officials appointed in 1551 to advise the government on new standards for the coinage. [6] Another general restructuring of the Mint in the spring of 1552 resulted in the appointment of Thomas Egerton as Under-Treasurer and Stanley's promotion to Comptroller. [7]

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

Debasement practice of lowering the value of currency; financial gain for the sovereign at the expense of citizens

Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins. A coin is said to be debased if the quantity of gold, silver, copper or nickel is reduced.

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset Nobleman

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, was Lord Protector of England during part of the Tudor period from 1547 until 1549 during the minority of his nephew, King Edward VI (1547–1553). Despite his popularity with the common people, his policies often angered the gentry and he was overthrown. He was the eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d. 1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.

Egerton was dismissed from office by Mary I's government in 1555, and from that time until 1571 control of the Tower Mint was essentially in the hands of Thomas Stanley. On the accession of Elizabeth he was confirmed as Comptroller of the Mint (August 1559) and he was formally appointed Under-Treasurer of the Mint on 14 July 1561, an office he held until his death. [8] [9] As head officer of the Tower Mint, Stanley supervised the great Elizabethan recoinage which was planned from the beginning of the reign and was carried out between December 1560 and October 1561. [10]

Mary I of England Queen of England and Ireland

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.

Disputes between Stanley and his fellow officers, Comptroller John Bull and assay-master William Humfrey, broke out in a series of accusations and cross-accusations over the next few years that escalated to a 1565 attempt by the two men to discredit Stanley by stealing money under his control. The plot was discovered and Bull confessed, but questions about Stanley's management of the Mint continued. His inability to properly account for his funds during the reign of Queen Mary lead to confiscation of his properties on 2 October 1571, and he died two months later, on 15 December 1571. [11]

William Humfrey (c.1515–1579) was an English goldsmith, mining promoter, and Assay Master at the Royal Mint during the reign of Elizabeth I.


  1. Challis (1992), p. 255
  2. Hawkins (1885), p. 106
  3. Burke (1836), p. 96
  4. Challis (1978), p. 89
  5. Challis (1978), pp. 104–105
  6. Challis (1978), p. 109
  7. Challis (1978), p. 111
  8. Challis (1978), p. 115
  9. Challis (1978 and 1992) gives his death date as 15 December 1571. Hawkins' (1885) assertion that "In 1573 he became Master of the Mint, and he seems to have had disputes about his accounts, and likewise with the goldsmiths. He died 18 December 1576" (p. 106), is not supported by current scholarship. The office of Under-Treasurer was replaced by the Master of the Mint following Stanley's death.
  10. Challis (1978), pp. 119-127
  11. Challis (1978), pp. 129-134.

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