Anne of England Queen
Queen Anne Regulates the Exchange of Foreign Coins in the American Colonies
QUEEN ANNE. An Act for Ascertaining the Rates of Foreign Coins in Her Majesties Plantations in America, [April 1, 1708]. 3 pp., 6.75" x 10". One one-inch tear near upper margin with minimal effect on text on pp. 2-3; small holes from previous binding; otherwise very good.
“Whereas for Remedying the Inconveniences which had arisen from the different Rates at which the same Species of Foreign Silver Coins did Pass in her Majesties several Colonies and Plantations in America, her most Excellent Majesty has thought fit by her Royal Proclamation, bearing Date the Eighteenth Day of June, One thousand seven hundred and four, and in the Third Year of her Reign, to Settle and Ascertain the Currency of Foreign Coins in her said Colonies and Plantations.... notwithstanding the said Proclamation, the same indited practices... are still Carried on within some of the said Colonies or Plantations...if any Person within any of the said Colonies or Plantations, as well those under Proprietors and Charters, as under her Majesties immediate Commission and Government, shall after the First Day of May, which shall be in the Year of our Lord, One thousand seven hundred and nine...Take or Pay any of the several Species of Foreign Silver Coins mentioned...at any greater or higher Rate than at which the same is thereby Regulated, Settled and Allowed...shall suffer Six Months Imprisonment, without Bail...And shall likewise Forfeit the Sum of Ten Pounds for every such Offence....”
In November 1703, the Privy Council referred to the Lord Treasurer a petition from the Board of Trade to settle the rates of foreign coins in America. In May 1704, the Lord Treasurer submitted a report from the Offices of the Mint with a table of the weights and values of foreign coins then current in the Plantations. In June 1704, Queen Anne issued a proclamation declaring the value of foreign coins to be observed in all transactions in British colonies and plantations in the Americas.
The colonial governor of Massachusetts Bay in 1704, issued a follow-up proclamation, declaring that “no money shall pass by Tale but what is of one weight, according to her Majestyes Proclamation and the Laws of this Province; That all other light money and Plate of Sterling Alloy shall pass and be good in payments by the ounce Troy pro rato, until the End of the Session of this Court in May next, when further Consideration shall be had thereof.”
In his study of the money of the American colonies, Philip Mossman observes, “Since this regulation was initiated by the English Board of Trade the motive must be suspect. Rather than inspired by altruism toward the colonists, the authors were much more concerned that there be a stable currency to pay the English merchants.” Only Barbados and Maryland complied with the 1704 Proclamation, while the other colonies virtually ignored it.
This insubordination by her American colonies led Parliament to pass and Queen Anne to approve this Act nearly four years later to add the punishment of imprisonment and fines to those who violated or disregarded the earlier proclamation.
Queen Anne (1665-1714) was born in London to James, the Duke of York, while his older brother was King as Charles II. Because of her father’s suspected Roman Catholicism, Charles II decreed that Anne and her older sister Mary be raised as a Protestant. She married Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708) in 1683. On the death of her uncle in 1685, her father became James II, but he was deposed three years later in the Glorious Revolution, which placed William of Orange and his wife Mary, Anne’s older sister, on the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Mary died of smallpox in 1694, and William continued to reign alone. Although she was pregnant seventeen times in as many years, she miscarried or gave birth to stillborn children twelve times, and four of her five living children died before they reached the age of two. Only Prince William (1689-1700) survived infancy, and he did not reach adulthood. When King William III died in 1702, Anne became Queen. On May 1, 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were united into a single kingdom called Great Britain. When her husband Prince George died in October 1708, Queen Anne was distraught but recovered to maintain control in the face of intense competition between Tories and Whigs in Parliament and the ministry. When she died, her Protestant Hanoverian second cousin became King George I according to the Act of Settlement of 1701.
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