THE TALLIES, A TANGLED TALE and
THE BEGINNING AND THE ENDING
two essays by David Astle
Copyright 1997 by David Astle©
All rights reserved.
These essays or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the Author.
David Astle
P.O. Box 282
Station "P"
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S8
Canada
THE TALLIES, A TANGLED TALE
and THE BEGINNING AND THE ENDING
Two Essays by
David Astle

1.  A brief study of the Tally Stick as instrument of State Finance and Account as without cumulative debt, in former times.
2.  A glimpse at the activities of the Money Changers during the so-called Middle Ages, and at the Acts of the English Parliament which they had influenced into being in the 17th Century, and by which they brought about the misappropriation to themselves of the essence of Sovereign Power :  the prerogative of money creation.

Including a copy of the Charter of
“ THE BANK OF ENGLAND ”
(A virtually suppressed document)
“ For money has been the ruin of many
and has misled the minds of Kings.”
Ecclesiasticus 8, Verse 2

The Tallies, a Tangled Tale

ESSAY No. 1

A BRIEF STUDY OF THE “ TALLY STICK ”AS INSTRUMENT IN EARLIER DAYS, OF STATE OF FINANCE AND ACCOUNT; ALSO MENTIONING ITS USE IN PRIVATE AFFAIRS.

September 15, 1997
By David Astle



The origins of the Tally Stick as an instrument of State Finance and Accounting are probably buried in the deep recesses of man’s history.  The origins of the word “Tally” go back also to very ancient days.  According to Webster under the heading “Tally”, it derives from Latin, and he gives :  “A.F. “Tallie";  Fr.-Anglo-Latin;  tallia;  Fr.L.:talea (a stick);  see Tailor;  of Tail, a limitation;  Taille, Taillage.

“ 1.  Formerly, a piece of wood in which notches were cut as marks of number.  It was customary for traders after notching a stick to show the number or quantity of goods delivered, to split it lengthwise through the notches, so the parts exactly corresponded, the seller keeping one stick, and the purchaser the other.  In the English Exchequer were tallies of loan, one part called the counterstock, or countertally, being kept in the Exchequer, the other, the stock or tally being given to the creditor in lieu of an obligation for money lent to the Government.  Certain tallies were used in the Exchequer as late as 1827, but all were destroyed by Act of Parliament, 1827.”

Although it appears that the system of record keeping and also as adjunct to State finance by the use of tallies, so far as the King’s Exchequer went, entered Britain in the reign of Henry I, there cannot be any doubt that it had previously been in use on the continent, both in Normandie, Anjou, Guienne, and probably in all the Plantagenet Domains and other States in Europe at that time.[1]  That it was definitely known to have been in Sicily, suggests that it had been known to the Saracens.  That this instrument was also known as relating to State finance in China is suggested by the book by Ta Nien Weng, entitled :  “Ku Ping to K’ao” on the subject of the emission of tallies as a means whereby a General in the field might finance himself and his army.

Returning to Norman days in Britain it would be an absurdity to imagine that a wilful and ruthless ruler such as William II (Rufus), who did not hesitate to punish his kinsman, Richard de Ou, for treason against the throne, by having his eyes put out, and his testicles cut off,[2] would not avail himself of such a simple and costless method of finance as that to which the tally loaned itself.  It is almost certain that knowledge of the intrinsically valueless moneys of former times, still existed,[3] and that money, to function as such, did not depend on the material on which its numbers were recorded.[4]  The King’s advisors, learned in the ways of money, while able to gain audience with the King before the great Nobility,[5] lived in a certain measure of fear, and would support the best interests of the King for the greater part.

“ The tallies proper in use at the Exchequer were a primitive form of chirograph or indented writing, recommended by their superior durability, from being composed of seasoned wood instead of parchment or paper, an advantage fully borne out by the perfect condition of such as have survived, on which every mark made by the knife stands out as clean and true as on the day when it was cut by the Chamberlain’s Sergeant more than 600 years ago.”[6]

Thus, this matter of the tallies, though obscured in the relatively recent pages of history may very well be considered to be of more importance towards understanding of the structure of State Finance in Olden Times in Britain without cumulative debt to private persons, particularly from Henry I onwards, than the historians seem to have realized, or wish to realize.  If gold, silver, or base metal coinage (potin, lead, copper, billon, etc.), was that which appeared to be the monetary circulation, whether emitted from the Royal mints, the principal mint being in the Tower of London, or emitted by the great nobility or by the Ecclesiastical Lords, the Tally Stick, particularly in the case of the King’s Exchequer, was the heart and soul of the Exchequer.  The tally stick assisted in a very efficient system of accounting, and also via a “Promise to Pay” at a certain date being recorded thereon, there cannot be any doubt that it constituted a negotiable instrument.  In exactly the same way as the banker’s paper notes until recently were inscribed with the legend :  “Promise to pay to the bearer on demand”, it is possible the tally stick could also be inscribed with a “Promise to Pay” without a definite date of redemption, or definite description of how the amount indicated was to be paid, although, it is true, there is no sure knowledge of this happening in those days.  The tally system was also the heart and soul of the Manorial accounts, and such accounts were largely kept by its use.[7]  In this case the tallies were known as “Dicae”, and much private business was conducted by their use, particularly loans to private individuals etc., by the money lenders, as the tally of loan of 30s by Jocsy to Godesire in the Public Records Office will show.

In Madox :  “The History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England”, published in 1711, only 19 years after the foundation of “The Bank of England”, so-called, though therefore possibly suffering some influence from that event, and the forces that gave rise to it, there are quite a few references to the tallies functioning in one capacity or another; one such instance being as follows :

“ Phillip de Willeby, a baron of the Exchequer, came before the Barons there, and acknowledged that he had received certain treasure trove at Melton, Leicestershire :  to wit :  silver plate, clippings of old money, which he sold for xvlxxd halfpenny, which sum he paid at the Exchequer by tally now produced.”[8]

That the Sheriff (in medieval times) was obliged to render his accounts at the Exchequer “in money or in tallies” at Michaelmas, when he was summoned to the Exchequer,[9] need not necessarily imply that the tallies surrendered had to be those that he had received at the Easter Summons to the Exchequer, against his proffer of 50% of the total due for the year as made then.  His actions would be very much linked to the needs and consequently the wishes of the Money Lenders who, no doubt, would not be far behind him.

In regards to the tally as an important negotiable instrument, there is no doubt whatsoever.  While most records of their use have either been destroyed, or just have disappeared, or, indeed were never kept as was the case with the records of the Bank of England for its[10] first hundred years, sufficient remains to make this point clear.  Black’s Dictionary of Law states of the tallies :  “ By the custom of London, sealed tallies were effectual as a deed.  Liber Albus 191a.  They are admissible by the French and Italian codes as evidence between traders.  It is said they were negotiable.  See Penny encyclopedia, and Hall’s ‘Antiquities of the Exchequer’, p.118.”

Reference to payment by tally exists in “The Dialogues”:  Richard FitzNigel :  1.6, p.193; 1178 A.D.:[11]  “ The King’s yachtmaster was paid 1s. per diem by tally issued by the chamberlains.”  Little, if any, study seems to be available on the full functions of the tally stick in relations to State finance (without cumulative debt) in the many hundreds of years of its use in England prior to its final ending in 1834.  So far as Library of Congress is concerned, unbelievably, nothing seems to be available on the subject of the tallies other than the book written in Chinese previously mentioned in this essay.

As a consequence the “Economists” may have very good reason to be evasive on the subject of the tally stick, or to ignore its previous existence.  This attitude of course would be most desirable for what, from the 17th Century onwards, was a growing group of persons described as “Bankers”.  The possibility of the State financing itself without cumulative debt would not fit in with the system it is clear they had in mind, in a world which they could see could come to be, under which King and State, imagining itself to be tied hand and foot by debt held by themselves, became their willing servant, and would not act in any way without their will and permission.

Earlier economists such as Madox (1711), Davenant (1771), Adam Smith (1776) in their works were semi-independent in thought, though possibly with the exception of Adam Smith, and probably thought of themselves as loyal members of their race and class.  However necessarily they had to be influenced by the stream of events following the rise of the goldsmiths in London throughout the Tudor period and into the 17th Century culminating in the establishment of the so-called “Bank of England”.  Such gentlemen as the Earl of Angleseas,[12] and a little later, Bishop Berkeley,[13] were aware of the true significance of these events, but of course, they were not “Economists” and they remained unheeded.

According to Richard FitzNigel in “The Dialogues”(1178 A.D.):  “the old name for the Exchequer was ‘the tallies’"[14] which would further suggest that the tallies were the heart and soul of the Exchequer itself.  It could also be that one of the functions of the Exchequer was, besides the issuing of tallies for one purpose or transaction or another, the expansion or contraction of the money supply by further issue or by redemption as against payment of taxes of those Exchequer tallies that were negotiable and that were in circulation.  The Exchequer was the place of the filing of the counterfoils and as such it functioned as the King’s memory.  It is true, tallies were not money in the sense suggested by coinage, whether gold or silver or whatever ;  but in the sense that they could be written promises of money :  the device promulgated by the Ruler to facilitate exchanges, from the time of the negotiable tally being struck and its purpose and value being recorded thereon, it could be expansion of the money supply equally with its worth in minted coinage such as the people thought of as money.  Promise of money, which perhaps would be part of the inscription on the tally stick, can be much more than coinage, and the only limit it knew would be the amount of the numbers as inscribed by the tally writer thereon ;  therefore, the negotiable tally was money in its true character :  somewhat of an abstraction.

On page 241 of his “Dictionary of Political Economy”(1893), R.H.I. Palgrave states :  “One of the oldest prerogatives of the Crown, not only in England, but in most European countries, was the right to demand supplies and services at the lowest prices, which were actually fixed by the Royal officers.  Payment was not made as a rule in money, but in tallies (q.v.) which entitled the recipients to deduct the specified sums from their future taxes...”  Let us have no doubt that Palgrave had carefully researched this, Oh-so-controversial matter !  What made the tally what it was, obviously, was what was written thereon.  If it was a simple receipt for goods or services, or whatever, then such a receipt it was.  If it was a “promise to pay” at such and such a time and place, then over the given time of such promise, it could, and did, circulate as money.  As shown above for that period of time, it was a creation of money.  It would be an absurdity to propose that those who had tendered for the King’s business and were consequently accepted for the honour of purveyance, could or would wait until that amount of tax was due (if it ever was !).  Such tallies would be discounted in the existing “Money Market” if necessary.  Which is certainly suggested by the following quotation from Madox in which he deals with a period when the Jews were under oppression :[15]  ...“And the sheriff was ordered to bring before the Barons on the said day, all the chirographs and tallies made to the Jews for debts that could be found in the chirographers chests,” and which is further suggested by the Latin inscription on an Exchequer tally as held in the Public Records Office, which records that “ Thomas Godesire owes to Joscy, of Kent, the Jew, 30s., namely, a half at the feast of St. Michael in the year of grace, 1229, and a half at the feast of St. Martin next following, in accordance with the chirograph-Surety, Andrew Mikelgate.”[16]  This tally, one of the most ancient existing, may have found its way into the Exchequer via the Exchequer of the Jews as existed at that time.

Proceeding on into the 17th Century, substantially more information exists therein of the tally as being at times a creation by the Will of the King, that is to say, of the State, to satisfy the needs of the State for money.

As a result of the confusion in the existing system of the affairs of the City of London, that was being brought about during the 16th, and 17th Centuries by the sub-rosa (and perhaps criminal) practices of the goldsmiths of circulating (false) receipts for valuables such as precious metal money, gold and silver bullion, etc., said to be deposited with them for safe keeping, throwing into uncertainty all matters of Finance, State or otherwise, in 1665, Pepys, at the Admiralty, bewailed “the horrible crowd, and the lamentable moan of the poor seamen that lay starving ... for the lack of money.”[17]

The Crown sought salvation from this situation by increasing the use of the tally.  The “tally of loan”, long since developed from the tally of receipt, was more and more issued against loans to the Exchequer in anticipation of revenues, or simply in payment of debts.[18]  As being impossible to counterfeit, it was regarded by the Exchequer as perfect for short term borrowing until the Exchequer Bill of the late 17th Century was developed for this purpose ;  at which time paper was becoming relatively cheap, satisfactory for the purpose, and also plentiful.

After the death of Cromwell, and the return of the Stuarts in the person of Charles II, tallies began to be assigned to particular sources of revenue and by the Act of 1660 (12. Car. IIc.9), they bore interest.  By 1663 (17. Car. IIc.9.) such tallies were to be parallel with an order of loan, and redemption was made in a sequential manner, and they were made negotiable.[19]  Such orders later became known as “Fiduciary Orders”, and were not issued against money deposited, but simply in payment of debts, i.e. they became an intrinsically valueless money :  State created and issued.  They were issued in round numbers such as £100, £1000, etc., and might have circulated as Cromwell’s “Bills of Public Faith”, or as the privately created paper money of the “Bank of England” at a later time.[20]

However, it is probable that the same forces that destroyed Cromwell and his money, peeping out from behind the goldsmiths, set about destroying any money system which might continue to maintain the independence and integrity of the English Exchequer.  Despite efforts to prevent it, the various departments of Government (Navy, Ordnance, Household, etc.) issued their own tallies, and now, orders or Bills.  As far as tallies were concerned, it appears that they always had so done (see King’s yachtmaster was paid 1s. per diem by tally made by the Chamberlains).[21]  Some of these monetary instruments passed at heavy discounts.  Obviously the parallel flood of goldsmith’s notes (privately created money !) entering the circulation had caused dramatic expansion of the “Whole Measure of Value”, and therefore less value to chose instruments which previously had been circulating.

In the earlier part of Andreades “History of the Bank of England” are found several references to the circulating tally as still being important instrument of State Finance in England.  For instance, at the time of the disbanding of Cromwell’s army by Charles II after his accession, the bankers (and goldsmiths) agreed to raise the required sum to pay off the troops against “a transfer of the credits for the payment of the first taxes voted by Parliament, and Tallies on those parts of the budget which were the least heavily burdened.”[22]

Tallies are once again mentioned in the concern at the existing state of affairs expressed by the author of the pamphlet “The New Fashioned Goldsmiths":  “Charles being in want of money, the bankers took 10% of him barefacedly, and by private contracts on many bills, orders, and tallies, and debts of that King, they got 20, sometimes 30 per cent, to the great dishonour of Government.  This great gain induced the goldsmiths to become more and more lenders to the King, to anticipate all the revenues, to take every grant of Parliament into pawn as soon as it was given ;  also to outvie each other in buying and taking to pawn bills, orders, and tallies”.[23]  Later, shortly after the foundation of the Bank of England and it was starting to be a working institution, in 1696 a recoinage was instituted that produced a crisis in commercial affairs so that, according to Davenant :  “all great dealings were transacted by tallies, bank bills, and goldsmith’s notes”[24] ... John Lubock, in his preface to Hall’s “Antiquities of the Exchequer” mentions a tally in his possession representing £24.000 advanced to the Crown by the East India Company.

In the pamphlet by Michael Godfrey, Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England at its foundation, as written shortly before his death and (obviously) pointing out the success of “The Bank”, he mentions that the bank “accepted tallies at par so that they soon rose to a premium whereas until 1694 even the most secure of these tallies which had but a short time to run, such as those on the land tax, had been at a discount of from 1½ to 2 per cent, while tallies which offered less security were discounted at a loss of 15 to 30 per cent, over and above the interest.”[25]

“ In the provisions of the Act of February 3rd (8 & 9 William In c20) in 1697 and by which the Bank of England, now established for three years, was to be granted a monopoly, the Bank was to add £1.001.171 to its capital and subscriptions might be paid four fifths in Exchequer Tallies and one fifth in bank notes ... “bank notes to the amount of £200.000 and tallies to the amount of £800.000 were withdrawn from circulation, and hence the value of the remainder rose so that by the end of the year the notes were at par, and the interest bearing tallies at a premium.”[26]  Which clearly shows that up to that point in time, the humble tally was still very much a major force in the finance of the State and hence in the great commercial affairs of the Nation.[27]  That the withdrawal from circulation of tallies in the amount of £800.000 should have such a striking effect on the value of those monetary instruments still remaining in circulation is complete vindication of the tally as having been one of the essential components of the operations of the Exchequer directed towards the financing of the Kings of England and at the same time a vital factor in such money market as then existed ;  particularly in the case of “great dealings.”

Despite the undermining of the independence and integrity of the Exchequer by the (criminal) activities of the goldsmiths of London in respect to their circulation of receipts for valuables only reputed to be “on deposit” for safe keeping (and without reputable witness or contract at the time of their acceptance), such practices having been tolerated definitely throughout the Tudor period[28] and in increasing degree into the 17th Century, etc., nevertheless, in 1697, and with the foundation of the Bank of England already three years behind it, the tally stick obviously was still a force very much to be reckoned with in the vital affairs of the State and its Commerce and Trade.  It still represented an essential part of the “Whole Measure of Value” as according to the sum total of the amounts as indicated on all tallies in circulation.

That some kind of a conspiracy by those forces controlling the recently established “Bank of England” was working to drive down the tally stick at that time, is certainly suggested by the remarks of a Benjamin Bragg in 1707 in his pamphlet directed against the renewal of the Charter of the Bank of England : ...“But their patrons cry they will discount your tallies on demand ... enquire but at the exchange what a help this is to the credit of the Nation that the Bank will discount your best Tallies at par, when upon the exchange you may currently receive from private persons a premium for the same Tallies”.[29]

At this point it might be interesting to note, while in no way offering any serious study in depth, that several relatively modern Economic Historians have added a little to the much obscured matter of the true functions and possibilities of the tally stick.  One such Economic Historian is H. Heaton in his “Economic History of Europe”, p. 377 (1936).  Writing of what he does not seem to see to be the bare-faced criminality of the practice of the goldsmiths of the 17th Century particularly, taking in bullion or money “On Deposit” as for safe keeping and issuing receipts against it to the amount of ten times or more the arbitrary value of such “Deposits”, he relates :  “On the basis of this reserve, the goldsmiths began to make loans to traders or to the Government, and to discount foreign and domestic bills.  These loans might be made in coin, or in his own bank notes ;  they were usually made for a comparatively short term by discounting a bill of exchange, which might mature in a few weeks, or an Exchequer tally, which was a Government ‘promise to pay’ with interest in the near future, a sum of money borrowed by the Exchequer in anticipation of taxes.  The security of a bill or tally was normally good, and each was a readily negotiable instrument that could be turned into cash if ‘Depositors’ suddenly wanted their money back.”... Heaton is obviously not discussing the rights and wrongs of the goldsmith’s fraudulent practices.  Why should he when it seems that most practitioners of this inexact “Science”of Political Economy (so-called), largely receive their degrees and their honours and their comfortable livings insomuch as they support the Status Quo deriving from the policies of those who, three hundred years ago, brought down Kingship from its true eminence together with its Exchequer ?


However, it is high time to describe the Tally Stick itself and its physical characteristics.  The Exchequer tally itself was represented by a piece of hazel, willow, or boxwood, such as would split easily.  Such piece of wood was cut roughly to the shape of a thick knife blade.  The edges were notched in such a manner as to represent the amount of money acknowledged as payment made to the Crown in the case of the Exchequer tally of receipt ;  or payment to be made by the Crown in the case of a tally of loan such as would be the tally issued against purveyance, etc.  Higher denominations were indicated by deep notches on one side of the unsplit tally stick, and lesser denominations were indicated by smaller notches on the other side of the same stick.  The details of the transaction involved were written on either side after such sides had been smoothed, and the piece of wood was then split through the notches by means of a cut parallel to the sides on which such record was written.

The longer part of the split tally was known as the counterfoil or countertally, and was the part retained by the Exchequer.  The payee, that is to say whoever was owed the amount recorded on each of the flat sides, received the other part known as the “tally”.  A small hole was bored in the thick end of the counterfoil (or countertally) which was retained by the Exchequer, and it was threaded onto the suitable rod as would be kept in the “Tally Court”.[30]  Such arrangement functioned as a most efficient filing system, though no exact record seems to exist as to how it was done so that a particular counterfoil could be located promptly, and at any time.  If either party disputed the payment, or genuineness of the tally, the matter was settled by matching the two parts together.  Hence counterfeiting, the ruin of States, was impossible.  A particular instance of such a check being promptly and efficiently made, is recorded in Madox, Vol. I, p. 265 :  “As in the reign of K. Edward II in the case of Geoffrey de Weston, who paid money ‘in camera regis’ and received two tallies testifying to his payment, but these tallies being lost, he vouched the countertallies which were produced by the clerk of the King’s chamber...”

The above is a brief and simply put description of the tally stick.  What follows as from the Dialogus de Scaccario is much more in detail though perhaps harder to follow :

“ The tally was a stick of hazel wood, measuring in length the distance between the tip of the forefinger and the outstretched thumb (Dialogus I.5 pp.181 f.) — about eight inches.  It was bored at one end so that it could be filed on a rod.  The sum paid was denoted by incisions on the two edges of it.  A thousand pounds was marked by cutting out the thickness of the palm of the hand, a hundred by the breadth of the thumb, a score by the breadth of the little finger, one pound by that of a swelling barleycorn, a shilling somewhat less, ‘but so that the cut took out a piece of the wood and left a little furrow’.  Pence were marked by simple incisions without cutting out any wood.

... If a thousand pounds were cut, no other mark was made on the same edge, unless the half, five hundred pounds, in which case half the wood was cut away from the incision :  you cut the breadth required for a thousand but only remove half the wood, making the cut lower down on the tally, ‘the same rule holds if there are a hundred pounds to be marked and there is no thousand, or if there are a score of pounds, or a score of shillings which we call one pound.  If there are many thousands or hundreds of scores of pounds to be cut, the same principle is observed, namely, on the more open part of the tally, that is the edge that is before you after the note has been made, the greater number is cut, and on the other edge the smaller’.  A mark of silver was indicated by the number of shillings and pence.  A mark of gold was cut like a pound, but in the middle of the tally, not near the ends as were pounds.  A gold coin, presumably a Bezant, was cut like a silver penny, but not obliquely, but as by a straight cut.  Thus the distinction of gold and silver was marked by the place and the form of the cut” (Dialogus I.5 p.182).

Such is the description of the tally given in the Dialogus.  It may be verified and elucidated by existing specimens of the 13th Century (in the Public Records Office).  If you hold a tally in your hand with the thick part and the bored hole to the left, and with the note recording the name of the person to whom the business relates and the cause of the payment towards you, then you will find the cuts for the largest denominations will be cut on that edge.  The lower denominations are all cut on the upper edge, with the pennies nearest the right hand end.  The thousand is distinguished by a curved incision ;  the other cuts are serrated.

When the sums paid had been cut on the two edges of the stick, and the name had been recorded, it was split nearly to the bottom, so that one part contained a stump or handle and the other only a flat strip.  In the case of a Sheriff satisfying his accounts at the Easter summons to the Exchequer “in money or in tallies”, the smaller part was retained by the Sheriff and was the “tally”and the larger part which was retained by the Exchequer was the “countertally"[31] or recantum (Dialogus I.5 p.178).  The two parts were also called the stock (stipes) and the foil (folium), and later on we find the stock known as the “scachia”or “chacia”from the old French word “eschace”, a stick.  If money was loaned to the Bank of England down to a hundred years ago, tallies were cut for the amount, and the Bank kept the foil and the lender received the stock ;  thus the lender held “Bank stock” to the amount recorded on it[32] and hence the origin of “Stocks and Shares”.

Returning again to the actual functions and purpose of the tally stick, it is clear that the tally of loan was a very substantial part of State finance, and despite paucity of records in relation to such matters, it circulated in those times as part of the “Whole Measure of Value” and obviously there had to be an extensive money market existing at all times in which tallies could be discounted and exchanged into the circulating money as struck in the King’s Mint, or otherwise ;  more suitable for day to day expenses of a family, estate, or business, etc.  An outstanding instance being the result of the imprestment by the King of the citizens of London of cc marks as against the cost of walling their city.[33]  The citizens would doubtfully have the power to issue tallies on the strength of their own credit, whereas the King could do so and did.  As the walling of a city the size of London was a major item of construction giving occupation to a great deal of labour for a long time, and was therefore very much a State enterprise, a tally would be struck in payment of the imprest, or more likely, parts thereof.  Such tallies would enter into the flow of money via tallies or otherwise in the existing money market or individual contractors might be paid by tally, thus dividing the total amount involved into much smaller and more negotiable amounts.  “In the second year of K. Richard I, William Puintell, Constable of the Tower of London, accounted for moneys which he had received out of the King’s Treasury, for certain works to be done at the Tower”, and “In the 9th year of K. Henry III, William Mareschal, Earl of Pembroke accounted for divers Imprests, to wit, for money imprested to him at sundry times out of the King’s Treasury, out of the Quinzime and out of the Mint”.  These sentences as quoted from Madox Vol-I, pp. 387-392 would suggest the involvement of the Mint in these Imprests, but the fact that State salaries were paid by tally would certainly suggest that contracts on State property such as the wall of the City of London, and repairs to the Tower of London, etc., would be met as much as possible by this method of finance.  In later years, at the time of the establishment of the so-called Bank of England, despite the confusion set up by the depredations of the goldsmiths from early Tudor times on, there were at least £17.000.000 of tallies in circulation :  a fantastic sum in those days considering that the total cost of the operation of the Kingdom in those days would be no more than between £2.000.000 and £3.000.000 per annum.[34]  There should be no doubt of the efficacy of the tally in an earlier day when the King’s word and rule were unchallenged absolutes.

And so, to bring this tale to its sad ending, the tally, in its earlier days one with the castle and the keep, with Ivanhoe and Rebecca, and perhaps strangely coincidental, the establishment of the first four Cantons of Switzerland following on after the darkening days of October 1290, finally was phased out so that little memory remains, and that there is not even a mention in the Encyclopedia Brittanica !  This ancient system of accounting and finance by which the Kings of England maintained themselves and the State as without cumulative debt, was finally swept away by a Parliament that had long since lost sight of its own true meaning, and of money creation as being the very essence of the sovereignty of the State, and the fundamental prop upholding Kingship and therefore themselves ;  for to what else would they owe the honours, ranks, and titles that they sought ?

Thus the tally stick, source of the independence of the Kings of England and the integrity of their Exchequer, lasted in full strength from 1100 to 1485, the date of the battle of Bosworth field and the accession of Henry VII, the first of the Tudors.  From 1485 until 1694 it continued in declining strength due to the competition arising from the increasing circulation of goldsmith’s receipts, genuine or otherwise, and on the later date the establishment of “The Bank of England” and it still continued to circulate as adjunct to some degree of Royal independence until 1783 when the use of the tallies was abolished by Act of Parliament.

The tallies, functioning in modified form in the last hundred years of their use, were lengthened from their very practical length of 4 to 8 inches in the Middle Ages, to three to four feet in their later days ;  probably to render them something awkward and outdated, if not absurd when compared with the paper instruments then circulating.  In the year 1827, the whole system, such as remained, was abolished.  According to Palgrave :  “Dictionary of Political Economy”[35]:  “ In the course of George III’s reign, many of the old offices were gradually swept away until in 1833 the ancient account and receipt departments of the Exchequer were entirely abolished (3 & 4 Will. IV. c.99;  and 4 Will. IV. C.15), the office of the King’s remembrancer being the sole relic today of the early system, for the work of the Exchequer is now undertaken by the modern departments of the Paymaster General and the Treasury, while the Bank of England has taken the place of the old Exchequer of receipt.”

In 1834 the neglected piles of broken tally sticks were ordered to be used as firewood for the furnaces in the House of Commons.  The fiercely burning tallies set the House of Parliament on fire as if in final gesture condemning this folly which left the finances of England and its Kings, virtually at the mercy of the so-called “Bank of England”, a privately owned institution, not necessarily controlled by loyal Englishmen, and certainly not by the Crown.

The flames were a forewarning of the dark years ahead for that sceptred isle, from whence so many of the ancestors of today’s Americans derive their origins.  Merrie England, as it had been known in the days of the medieval tallies, faded into an almost forgotten dream.





The End




BIBLIOGRAPHY
The Tallies, A Tangled Tale



A. Andreades :  History of the Bank of England.
Aristotle :  The Politics.
_________The Ethics.
Bishop Berkley :  The Queries.
Benjamin Bragg :  A short view of the apparent Dangers and Mischiefs from the Bank of England.
Charles Davenant :  Discourses on the Public Revenues and Trade of England.
Alexander Del Mar :  A History of Monetary Systems.
_________________A History of Monetary Crimes.
Richard FitzNigel :  Dialogues de Scaccario.
John Guiseppe :  The Bank of England.
Hubert Hall :  Antiquities and Curiosities of the Exchequer.
D. MacPherson :  Annals of Commerce.
Thomas Madox :  History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England.
Prof. Victor Morgan (& W.A. Thomas)  :  The Stock Exchange.
R.H.I. Palgrave :  A Dictionary of Political Economy.
R.L. Poole :  The Exchequer in the 12th Century.
Joachim Prinz :  Popes of the Ghetto.




1 Alexander Del Mar :  “History of Monetary Systems”, p.233.

2 T. Madox :  “History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England”, Vol.I; p.8.

3 Alexander Del Mar :  “History of Monetary Systems”, p.216.

4 Aristotle :  “The Politics"; 1.9.;  “The Ethics"; V.5.

5 Joachim Prinz :  “Popes of the Ghetto”, p.30.

6 Hubert Hall :  Antiquities of the Exchequer; p.118.  Hall probably is referring to one of the 13th Century Exchequer tallies found about his time of writing in the chapel of the Pyx in Westminster Abbey.

7 R.H.I. Palgrave :  “Dictionary of Political Economy"; Vol. I, p.576.

8 T. Madox :  “History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England";  Vol.I, p.42.

9 R.H.I. Palgrave :  Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol.I, p.780.

10 A. Andreades :  History of the Bank of England; p.xxviii.

11 R.L. Poole :  The Exchequer in the 12th Century. Also the King’s jester was a salaried position, and his payment was by tally.  In fact all who served the King were paid by tally.  The King’s yachtmaster would be a person of high rank and importance.  With 1s. per diem (£18.00 per year) he would have been able to maintain a fine home and support both wife and family with servants !

12 Alexander Del Mar :  History of Monetary Crimes; p.26.

13 George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne :  Particularly distinguished for his statement in “The Queries”(1735):  “ Whether it be not a might privilege for a private person to create a hundred pounds with a dash of his pen,” and “Whether it be not evident that we may maintain a much greater outward and inward commerce and be five times richer than we are, and our bills abroad be of far greater credit, though we had not one ounce of gold or silver in the whole island.”

14 R.L. Poole :  The Exchequer of the 12th Century;  p.33.

15 Thomas Madox :  History and Antiquities of the Kings of England, Vol. 1, p. 230.

16 Hubert Hall :  Antiquities of the Exchequer, p. 222.

17 Prof. Victor Morgan, & W.A. Thomas :  “The Stock Exchange"; p.18.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Richard FitzNigel :  “The Dialogues”I.6. p. 193. 1178 A.D.

22 A. Andreades :  “History of the Bank of England”, p. 33.

23 D. MacPherson :  “Annals of Commerce"; p. 428.

24 Charles Davenant :  “Discourses on the public Revenues and Trade of England”, Vol.II, p. 161.

25 A. Andréadès :  “ History of the Bank of England "; p. 88.

26 Ibid., p. III.

27 At the time of the foundation of the Bank of England it is estimated there were about £17.000.000 in circulation by way of tallies, an unbelievable sum in those days when a labourer’s wages might be a penny a day.

28 John Guiseppe :  “The Bank of England"; p. 6.

29 Benjamin Bragg :  “A Short View of the apparent Dangers and Mischiefs from the Bank of England”.  The Black Raven, Paternoster Row; 1707.

30 See T. Madox from a pell of the receipt of 9 Henry III :  “For rodds for the Tallies"; xxiv. 14, p. 742.

31 R.H.I. Palgrave :  Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol. I, p.780.

32 R.L. Poole :  The Exchequer in the 12th Century, pp. 86-91.

33 T. Madox :  The History and Antiquities of the Exchequer of the Kings of England, Vol.I, p. 388.

34 A. Andreades :  History of the Bank of England; p. 99.

35 R.H.I. Palgrave :  Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol.I, p.781, 1893.