Clearing up a civil conflict!

AUCTIONEER Spink’s account of Scarborough’s siege coins (“Rare Coin at Auction”, March 28), betrayed a number of factual inaccuracies and common misunderstandings.

The first Civil War siege of Scarborough castle took place from February 18 to July 25 1645. It therefore lasted 22 weeks, not “12 months”. This misreading of dates has frequently occurred because of failure to understand that in the old Julian calendar the new year began on March 25, not January 1, so that February 18 was then written as in 1644 not in 1645. The Royalist commander of the castle was Sir Hugh Cholmley (not “Cholmondeley”). The Yorkshire Cholmleys had abbreviated their surname a century earlier.

The genuine, original Scarborough siege coins of 1645 (there are many forgeries and replicas) were cut on Cholmley’s orders from St Mary’s silver plate to pay his officers and garrison soldiers in the castle. They were cut crudely and stamped with an outline of the castle’s tower keep. Some fakes look more like Newark’s hall keep, are regular in shape and carry no face value. The one offered for sale by Spink is certainly authentic and only second in face value to the five shilling piece, cut from a piece of silver church cup and put up for auction in 2010.

Sir Matthew Boynton of Barmston did not “mastermind” Cholmley’s surrender: he just waited patiently for the garrison to run out of food and water!

Jack Binns

Chatsworth Gardens