In the summer of 1646 the Royalist garrison of Dublin and its environs was sorely pressed and in urgent need of specie. James Butler, Duke of Ormonde, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Lieutenant-General of the King’s forces in Ireland, feared defection of some of his troops unless they were paid. With silver plate having long since been taken in for conversion to coin, he issued a Warrant in the King’s name on 29 July from Dublin Castle stipulating that gold of diverse and uncertain value was to be melted down and converted into ‘pledges’ of 8dwts 14grs and 4dwts 7grs for the relief of the distressed soldiers. This task was to be undertaken by Peter Vaneyndhoven and Gilbert Tongues, foundation members of the Dublin Goldsmiths’ Company founded by Royal Charter of 22 December 1637 and who had earlier been similarly commissioned by the Lord Justices following their Proclamation of 14 January 1642/3 to convert silver plate to the pledges once known as Lord Inchiquin’s money. They were to take twelve pence for every twenty shillings’ worth struck in payment for their labours. The bullion available would likely have comprised foreign coin in addition to plate. Queen Henrietta Maria had sent 10,000 pistoles in amount from France at the King’s behest. The French pistole was rated at 13s. 4d. and, with the circulation of French and Spanish gold (the 2 escudos was known as a pistole), it was not surprising that these pledges came to be known as double-pistoles and pistoles. Demand persisted and, on 1 February 1646/7, Ormonde issued another Warrant which called in rings, chains and broken gold for coining. These pledges were a coinage of necessity and represent the only gold coinage of Ireland. In addition to the coins hown on this page, ten other pistoles are known. Seven are in the National Museum of Ireland, one in the Ulster Museum, one in the American Numismatic Society collection and one formerly in the Gerard Brady collection (Whyte’s Auction, Dublin, 29 April 2000, lot 248, previously from the Bridgewater House collection, Sotheby Auction, 15-16 June 1972, lot 551 [present whereabouts unkown to the cataloguer]).
For further information see: ‘The only Gold Coins issued in Ireland 1646’, William O’Sullivan, BNJ XXXIII, 1964, pp.141-150; ‘A note on the Weight and Fineness of the Ormonde Pistole’, R.H.M. Dolley, BNJ XXXV, 1966, pp.152-4; ‘The extant Ormonde Pistoles and Double Pistoles of 1646’, W.A. Seaby and G. Brady, BNJ XLIII, 1973, pp.80-95 and pl. ii.