1) This was a small sum of money, said to have been so called originally because it was intended for a charitable or religious purpose. However, by the Tudor period it had come to be associated principally with bargains, especially as ‘earnest’ money, paid over at a new tenancy agreement or when a servant or workman was first hired.

In 1531, Christopher Scawceby sought to take possession of a public house called the Bull, in Beverley, but his ownership was disputed by John Raffelles and the case was heard at the court of Star Chamber. Much of the evidence had to do with a goddes penney allegedly paid to Scawceby without the landlord’s knowledge. In 1633, Abraham Shaw of Northowram was to hire all workmen and pay them their Godspenies only of his proper cost. Pepys was certainly familiar with the term, noting in his diary that ‘at the making all contracts and bargains they give so much, which they call God’s penny’. The same term was used for the small rebate given when cattle were purchased. In 1914, Mrs Jagger said it was considered unlucky in Honley not to have a coin returned as part of a sale, although she described it as God’s silver or luck penny.

dates 1531 1633 1914

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