Several months ago whilst digging in the garden we came across a coin. We gave it a clean up as much as possible and low and behold to our surprise this coin must have lain in the ground for a mere 300 years plus. I then went on to do some digging myself but not in the garden on the internet.

Our little find turned out to be no other than a Scottish Bawbee. A coin used in Scotland up until the late 1600s. This little beauty as I so discovered is the currency used at the time of King Charles 1st and then King Charles 2nd who subsequently stopped the production of the Scottish Bawbee in his Reign. Edinburgh up until the reign of King Charles 2nd minted their own coins.

A bawbee was a Scottish halfpenny. The word means, properly, a debased copper coin, valued at six pence Scots (equal at the time to an English half-penny), issued from the reign of James V of Scotland to the reign of William II of Scotland. They were hammered until 1677, when they were produced upon screw presses

The bawbee was introduced by James V in 1538 valued at sixpence. These carry his ‘I5’ monogram flanking a crowned thistle, and a large saltire on the reverse with a central crown. There was also smaller half bawbee and quarter bawbee. Around the year 1544 his widow Mary of Guise minted bawbees at Stirling Castle, with the ‘MR’ cipher, and the cross potent with crosslets of Lorraine on the reverse. The first bawbees of Mary, Queen of Scots issued by the mint at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh carried the cinquefoil emblems of Regent Arran.[1]

The issue of King Charles II was a coin of copper with the famed reverse inscription nemo me impune lacessit (no one provokes me with impunity) although, the last word at this time on the coin is spelled “Lacesset”. This motto is still in use today on the edge of the circulating Scottish one Pound Sterling coins. The motto is around a crowned Thistle followed by date. This is the coin mentioned above that was valued at six pence Scots and half an English penny

This intrigued me even further to investigate the area I live in around the time of both King Charles 1st and 2nd and the Estates in this locale. Baberton House is the local Estate and Whitelaw farm is and was the surrounding land used by the then owners of the Estate.

Baberton House was designed and built in 1623 by the architect Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton (d.1634), King’s Master of Works. Murray built the house for himself.

Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton, (d.1634), was a Scottish master wright and architect. He served as the King’s Master of Works under James VI, and Charles I. He was one of the first men in Scotland to be called an architect.[1]

His father James Murray (d.1615) was a master wright and was appointed Overseer of the King’s Works in Scotland in 1601. The younger James was appointed Overseer in 1605, when his father resigned the post, and two years later was appointed principal Master of Works in Scotland, succeeding David Cunninghame of Robertland.[2]

Murray was granted land near Juniper Green, outside Edinburgh, in 1612. Between 1622 and 1623 he designed and built Baberton House as his home here.[2] The innovative symmetrical u-plan house still stands, although it was extended in the 18th century, and now serves as offices. Murrays initials, together with those of his wife, Katherine Weir, appear on the house.[3]

Murray drew up plans for Parliament House in Edinburgh in 1633, and the building was constructed to his design over the following years.[2] As Master of Works he was also in charge of works at Linlithgow Palace, the reconstruction of Holyrood Palace prior to the coronation of Charles I, and additions to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle.

On 28 September 1608, Murray chased Finlay Taylor, a baillie of the Canongate, with a drawn sword in the Abbey Close near Holyroodhouse.[4] In 1633, at the coronation of Charles I, Murray was knighted. He died in December of the following year.

Which led me to thinking is it possible then that this wee Bawbee which is dated from the1600s in fact a coin from the Big House as it would have been referred to then?


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