Eight Gold Guineas and a Family Story

Ruth Colley

There is a story in my family about a bull which was sold for eight gold guineas which were then distributed to the farmer's eight sons and daughters, to be passed down through the male line of each future generation.

The farmer who sold the bull was James Swindlehurst who farmed at Gunnerthwaite Farm, Arkholme. He insisted on being paid for the bull in gold guineas although at the time these were no longer being minted and the purchaser had to search to find the payment in the form asked for. As far as I can discover gold guineas were no longer minted after 1816 and they gradually passed out of everyday use after that date. The date of the sale is uncertain but it must have been sometime after 1816 when gold guineas were becoming hard to find and must have been before James' death on 14 May 1851. James was born at Dolphinlee, Lancaster, in 1782 and on 10 October 1803 he married Jane Richardson (1783-1863). They farmed at Capernwray near Carnforth, then at Lanshaw, Clapham, just over the border into Yorkshire before moving back into Lancashire to Gunnerthwaite at Arkholme.

James and Jane had ten children -

(Marmaduke and Henry were twins). The first William died in infancy and Margaret died before the guineas were distributed so the remaining eight children each had one. I know what became of Henry's guinea as it is still in my branch of the family (Henry was my great grandfather) but I wonder what happened to the other seven and are they still being handed down from generation to generation? If anyone reading this is a descendant of any of the above sons and daughters then perhaps you still have one of the guineas in your family, especially if your surname is Swindlehurst, Canby or Baines.

Here is some further information about the eight guinea recipients -

I would be delighted to discover if the other 7 guineas are still with members of the family or were they perhaps spent many years ago by those who did not share my sense of family and tradition. If you are in possession of a Swindlehurst gold guinea, or you have any relevant information, please email me, so that I may extend the story.

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