My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wyoming, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Collector, the Coin and My Ancestry

When the email appeared with the title, Robinson Elsdale - silver birth coin, I was very hesitate to open it, because I didn't know somebody from plumpudding. But, I knew the name of Robinson, and since I was curious, I googled what I could with the four words I had available.

Okay, the message was very interesting, the writer is a coin dealer in England and he bought a "Five Shilling piece of William III dated 1696, engraved to record the birth of Robinson Elsdale (the son of the famous Robinson Elsdale  of Surfleet who died a few months after his son of the same name was born March 1783  [and younger brother to Samuel and your ‘Mary’ – so uncle to John Molson])" He went on to say, he "came across your ancestry pages on the internet whilst trying to find out about him (he was ordained and became headmaster of Manchester Grammar School) and thought you might be interested to have the image."

A quick review of my genealogy matched what he told me, and with more information, including his full name, I googled more. Yes, indeed, he is a very well-known coin collector/dealer, and soon I'm quite interested in knowing more and could I post his two images.

An immediate response came, and since it was interesting, I've decided to share it. "The coin is dated 1696 - You can just about see the date to the left on the reverse (the engraving side above the ‘R’) the crown on the shield splits it.  Yes, the coin had been in circulation for nearly a hundred years – which is why it is quite a worn piece (Not uncommon – I can remember Victorian coins in my change as a schoolboy in the 1960s).  Not old by English standards.  Our first coins were issued in around 40 BC. This coin of William III is the sort of coin that circulated in America before you revolted – and of course this English king named Williamsburg.  The first US coins were only issued in the 1790s." "The reason there is an anchor on it is because Robinson Elsdale (senior) was in the navy and a sea captain.  The coin was obviously engraved for him (senior) as a keepsake for the birth of his son of the same name – and he died a few months after (That really threw me having a Robinson Elsdale dying in 1783 and a Robinson Elsdale being born in 1783 !!!)"

"In the late 18th. century it was all the fashion to engrave coins as keepsakes and love tokens.  Most commonly to give to one’s sweetheart  especially by sailors who might spend months away from their love – but also as memento mori and birth tokens.  They are tremendously popular at the moment because of the ancestry bit, unfortunately whereas thirty years ago they were very cheap to buy, now they are not."


All of us who blog or have our ancestry online are used to having people write us about all kinds of things. Anything from wanting information, giving information, asking miscellaneous questions, and now, I have a coin dealer giving me some information that ties into my genealogy tree. My fourth great-grand aunt was married to the father whose name is on this coin, and she was the mother of the son who probably received this coin.