Venice
October 1656

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1930

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267-278

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'Venice: October 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 267-278. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89824 Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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October 1656

Oct. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
368. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The reports circulated at Madrid about a marriage between Anjou and the Infanta have arrived here; but they are unsubstantial and I do not find anything whatever to bear them out so that unless the departure from Spain of Liona is disclosed soon the most sensible view is that the peace negotiations may progress successfully. The English envoy is very perplexed at these transactions and although the government has from the first taken the necessary precautions with Cromwell, suspicion and mistrust still find a place.
Compiegnè, the 3rd October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
369. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the capture the English fleet has been seen no more in these seas satisfied with the rich booty which may well recompense it for the injurious idleness of the whole of the late campaign. Criticism is expressed very freely here because they neither foresaw nor provided for the event, because they say it would have been easy, with so much time, to have issued orders for the ships not to leave their haven or at least that they should follow another route. The most lugubrious predictions are also made about the other fleet of New Spain, since it is expected that the English, strengthened with these very forces and rendered more audacious than ever by the happy issue of this most important affair, will soon be proceeding to those shores, at once formidable in numbers and stimulated by the example of their late success. Nevertheless his Majesty has been in no wise dismayed by this most distressing blow, receiving all that happens from the hand of God, as he says, and affording a marvellous example of resignation to the Divine Will.
The Genoese have felt this blow more than any other nation, some of the merchants being at the last gasp while others have already succumbed.
Madrid, the 4th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
370. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament meets intermittently but they have not yet taken in hand the most thorny affairs and those which are likely to cause disturbances and differences; the things dealt with so far are not of great importance and do not merit much attention. They spent two days in choosing various committees which have to meet after dinner each day and attend to the affairs for which they are constituted. These consist in providing for the regulation of disorders which they seem to have discovered in various internal affairs, to set them straight and put them on a durable basis.
In reply to the remonstrance of parliament on the exclusion of members the Protector defended his action by showing that in the Instrument of Government the approval of the members elected was referred to him and his Council and before the assembly met he did not think fit to admit the 120 for certain grave reasons. Various remarks were made about this in parliament, and when they came to vote the majority was in favour of his Highness to whose Council were referred the confirmation and every other particular in this matter. One of the members opposed declaring that the liberty of parliament, to which all authority pertains, would no longer be of any account, and it will no longer be able to enjoy those privileges which rightly belong to it since it has dissipated its own powers and thrown away those rights which legitimately belong to it. He left the meeting followed by some others, intending not to return again and declaring that he would have no part in such outrageous deliberations; (fn. 1) so before long there will be few who are not entirely at the service of the ruler.
No act of parliament is valid unless carried three times, and yesterday was the third reading of the declaration against the House of Stuart and its adherents, which they ordered to be printed and published. All of that race and all who favour that party are declared guilty of high treason and condemned to the extreme penalty without further trial. Orders have been issued to keep watch and draw some into the net.
To-morrow they are to take in hand the reform of the laws of this country and next week they will bring forward the affair of Spain. Both are matters of great consequence, but it is supposed that they will continue the war unless the Spaniards make liberal and advantageous proposals, which is unlikely.
People talk very freely and one who should know something about the disposition of parliament has said it, that in a few days Cromwell will be raised to the dignity of king, or that the succession will be established in his house. This may easily give rise to trouble and dissension in the army as many of its leaders aspire to this supreme dignity, and if such a decree allowed them no hope of this they might prefer the re-establishment of their natural prince rather than see this pre-eminent position given to a house of base origin and of no great merit. So far they have kept silence, cloaking their feelings by dissimulation out of self interest and from the hope of arriving themselves one day.
The day before yesterday parliament observed a special fast, spending the whole day in church at devotions to implore the aid of Heaven in their present affairs. To obtain this more easily they have fixed another to be observed universally on the 29th inst. in all three kingdoms, recommending all men to humble themselves before God so that their prayers may be heard.
The gentleman sent by his Highness to Holland stays on at the Hague. It is announced here that in spite of every effort he cannot obtain a reply from the States to the letter he presented in the name of his Highness. It is said that the Dutch treat this with scant regard and that copies of it have been seen in private hands, as evidence of their contempt. But the government here attributes the adjustment which has taken place between the Dutch and the king of Sweden to its influence with the former and claims for itself all the glory and praise. The treaty is signed and the king of Denmark, the city of Danzig and some other power are included. In consequence the States have ordered back 30 of their best ships which they had in the Baltic, leaving only 12 there, united with other 10 of Denmark in the neighbourhood of Danzig, with what intention is not yet clear. When these 30 ships have reached home the Dutch ambassador informs me they will be immediately commissioned for other affairs and that a good part will certainly be directed to the Mediterranean to clear that sea of the Barbary pirates, from which the most serene republic will also benefit. At this point the ambassador expressed the pleasure of the States at the glorious victory over the Ottoman power and their hope of further conquests, for which I thanked him suitably.
The envoy sent to Portugal never appears, so it is supposed that he has further commissions, an opinion this long delay serves to countenance, as with things as they are and the rupture with the Catholic it behoves the government to have someone at Lisbon to keep alive the correspondence and to cherish durable confidential relations.
In spite of the extraordinarily intimate relations between Sweden and this state and the close community in religion and interest Barchman, who remained here as commissioner for that monarch, has not yet been able to obtain his first audience to present his credentials, with all his importunity. The difficulty is common at this Court and vexatious to ministers, delaying not a little the business they have to transact.
A gentleman of the Prince of Churland has recently arrived in London. (fn. 2) He remains incognito and it is not known in what capacity he comes as so far he has sent no intimation either to the government or to the foreign ministers here. From the gentlemen in his train and his equipage which is said to have a number of pages and couriers, whose liveries are now being made, one may conclude that he will have the rank of ambassador. It is supposed that his mission is to obtain the return of ships captured, to establish trade and commerce with this nation, and, according to many, to offer this government a number of ships, of which his master has abundance and would like to turn them to advantage. I will keep on the watch and duly report to your Excellencies.
London, the 6th October, 1656.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
371. To the Resident in England.
Enclose a copy of the news from Constantinople. You will observe the resolutions of the Porte for the prosecution of the war, devoting all their energies to have the strongest armament for the coming campaign. We shall meet their designs with such reinforcements as are possible. This will serve solely for your information and to give you material to discuss when opportunity offers.
Ayes, 72. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Oct. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
372. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Cromwell's envoy has suddenly taken leave of the Court and is to start for London in a few days. Some attribute his departure to an order sent him by the Protector who wants to have him at hand now that parliament is about to assemble, because he should be concerned for his uncle's preservation. Others attribute this sudden move to difficulties in arranging the terms of the secret negotiations between France and England.
Compiegnè, the 10th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
373. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
To push forward with all speed the equipment of the ships which are to proceed to the Indies and also to escort the fleet of New Spain, the duke of Pignoranda, as President of the Council of the Indies, has offered to go in person to Cadiz. This journey is also to quiet the injurious comments made by the people, who with excessive licence condemn his want of care in the conduct of the recent unhappy disaster.
Madrid, the 11th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
374. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament has laboured all the week over the two points mentioned in my last. For the first for revising the laws, they have set up a magistracy which is to make enquiry and decide what is considered necessary. On the second, the relations with Spain, parliament has unanimously declared the war reasonable and called it national, owing to the protection afforded by that monarch to King Charles and his assistance to that cause. They promise to supply the Protector with means to continue it with vigour, and in the coming days they will consider the matter and decide what it is desirable to do to prosecute hostilites against the Spaniards. This decision has afforded his Highness great satisfaction, as he was somewhat afraid they might take the war ill seeing it was declared without their consent, that is contrary to the laws of England.
Yesterday after dinner his delight and that of the people also was much increased by the good news brought by a ship sent express by the generals of the English fleet before Cadiz. They relate that two frigates sailed away from that port and pushed out some leagues to sea, where they sighted other sail. Approaching these they found them to be seven Spanish ships bringing with them a Portuguese prize they had taken. Although much weaker in men and ships the captains of the frigates decided to engage the enemy. They attacked boldly and after the others had offered a brave resistance for six hours they had to yield to the English, who, in spite of their great inferiority, gained the victory and acquired great glory. One ship was burned being set fire to within, three were sunk, two were captured and the last and the Portuguese prize escaped into the Mediterranean. In the two captured they found great riches, not only in gold, but in goods of different kinds, the whole amounting to 8 millions, according to the letters of Generals Blake and Montagu. On these ships was embarked the Viceroy of Peru, who had finished his regency and after a long absence was returning to Spain with all his family. He, his wife and a baby in arms were blown up in the ship which caught fire. His eldest son and a sister, who was going to Spain to be married, were taken prisoner, and they are expected here shortly together with all the booty. These prisoners report that before they left Lima there was an earthquake, so violent that it ruined the whole city with all the mines and treasure kept by the Catholic in those parts, the loss amounting to about 100 millions, and 13,000 men who worked the mines there were buried alive.
The government has heard the news with peculiar satisfaction as it seriously reduces the strength of the Spaniards, hitting them in their most vital part, and so renders less difficult for the English the prosecution of their designs. Parliament also is the better pleased for its decision to continue the war and prosecute hostilities. Some argue that the news is baseless and has been invented to flatter the people and induce them to bow their backs to burdens they propose soon to lay on them in the shape of heavy taxes.
While they were becoming anxious here about the prolonged stay in Holland of the gentleman sent to the States, because of his difficulty in obtaining a reply to the letters sent in the Protector's name, he arrived back in London and he asserts that he has obtained from the States all the satisfaction desired. This seems to have rendered Cromwell even more exultant, for he seems at present to get whatever he wishes, having a parliament to his mind which satisfies him completely in every way.
After a brief indisposition Sir [John] Barchster, lieutenant of the Tower of London and a bitter enemy of the Catholics, has paid the debt of nature, succumbing to a malady that carried him off in a few days. (fn. 3) His Highness deeply regrets the loss, as Barchster was his creature and being a member of the present parliament, helped powerfully in getting him what he wanted. With this unexpected death the Protector becoming suspicious that the city might make some attempt on the Tower, as he had only recently taken over the custody and he thought upon this occasion it might be taken out of his hands, has placed guards about the city to secure himself and render vain any attempt until another has been chosen in place of the deceased. In all the provinces also troops are daily on the march, being somewhat apprehensive, although the contrary is published, of the preparations made by the king of Scotland in Flanders for an attack on this kingdom in the approaching winter. But this will not be so easy a task as he imagines and as those who favour his party desire.
London, the 13th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
375. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Jorch has left for Flanders. The king of England, his brother was waiting for him at Dunkirk. With a certain number of the nobility of England and the few troops he has been able to equip since the adjustment was made between him and the Spaniards, he hopes to make himself constantly more considerable to his enemies.
Paris, the 17th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
376. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Besides the decisions of parliament reported nothing of moment has occurred. It is at present engaged upon the best way of carrying on the war with Spain, as they decided to do with all their might, to show them the power of this valorous nation. They are encouraged by the late success and the considerable booty captured from the enemy's squadron returning from the West Indies, which is considered one of the most serious blows the Spanish monarchy has ever received and calculated to render it unequal to sustaining the shocks administered by the English.
They have decided to equip another fleet more numerous than the one now at sea, and have already begun to build. It will not be difficult or take long owing to the abundance of timber kept for such work and the number of men constantly employed upon it. But to build and equip the fleet and supply it with the soldiers, sailors and all the other things necessary for its maintenance, will require a very large sum of money, and parliament is devoting its attention to getting this first essential for the life and preservation of no matter what. It is said they propose to vote an extraordinary tax on all three kingdoms, from all ranks, which they say will bring in 2½ millions of their pounds, a very great sum, which would help considerably for the ships mentioned. But this tax might easily cause disturbances and undoubtedly it would give rise to a great deal of grumbling, especially as the people cherished the hope that the great capture of gold from the Spaniards might exempt them from this burden, which they expected before the news came. After it they thought that the booty would suffice for all the plans of the government, present and future, without burdening them further.
After the reading in parliament of the despatches of Generals Blake and Montagu upon the victory over the Spanish ships, a day of thanksgiving was set apart, the victory being attributed to God alone seeing the inferiority of their force to that of the Spaniards. This was celebrated the day before yesterday by all London and Westminster, which adjoins it. All the shops were closed and no work of any kind done, while they thanked the Almighty and implored His assistance for further successes.
But in spite of these public demonstrations, a full account separately printed and many particulars given in the ordinary Gazettes, many believe the news to be fabricated to further their cause and induce the people to contribute for the fleet by persuading them that it is not idle but performing very useful work. Such talk comes from prejudiced persons, who do not want this government to have such a success, but wish to see it reduced rather than exalted. Their sole argument is the non appearance in the Thames of the captured ships with the booty and prisoners. But a contrary wind accounts for this, which has prevented any sort of ship from approaching English ports or entering this river.
Unprejudiced men of more sober judgment do not doubt the success but believe it less striking than represented, feeling sure that when the booty arrives it will be much diminished from what is announced. That it is at least partly true all appearances indicate as they are preparing quarters for the prisoners of quality expected and especially for Don Francesco di Lopez, now Marquis of Baydex through his father's death. It is now stated that he is accompanied by a younger brother, Don Gioseppe de Zunega, by two sisters Donna Gioseppa and Donna Catalina, and a brother a year old, the report of whose death was false. Equally false is the report that the eldest daughter is a prisoner. She was going to Madrid to marry the son of the duke of Medina Celi, but being beside her father and mother she must have been burned with them. Don Diego de Villa Alva, governor of Havana, is also a prisoner, with a great number of other persons of rank and station.
All who foretold trouble and dissension at the opening of parliament now see that their imagination deceived them as everything is proceeding quietly with the utmost unanimity. The members in all their deliberations proceed in harmony with the Protector. To obtain more votes and to complete the assembly parliament has sent to all who absented themselves of their own accord without any particular reason, some of whom had even left the city, to return to the session under pain of 1,000l. So on Monday all the members were to be seen except those who were not approved by his Highness and the Council at the outset.
To show the strength of his regard for the king of Sweden and his earnest desire to continue united with him in religion and interest, the Protector on Monday ordered a review of all his regiments quartered about London. There are 20 of these, each composed of 10 companies of 120 men each. He selected one of the best of these to send to Sweden as a present to that king. In obedience to their master the companies have already begun their march to the coast to embark on the ships destined for them hoping for a prosperous wind for Sweden. Besides this he has given permission to levy three regiments for Sweden, and those who have undertaken the task are constantly beating the drum here. They have succeeded in getting a certain number, as all the vagabonds and men without employment hasten to enrol including some who have, in the hope of profit under the Swedish flag as they are promised two pays in advance down with other inducements to attract them, and so they will speedily fill up the ranks.
On Tuesday the burgesses of London turned out at a rendezvous to the number of 15 to 16,000 all under arms, for military exercises, as is their custom two or three times a year. They are all fine troops and promise excellent service and the greatest help to the side they decide to take.
One day recently in this stormy freezing weather occurred the phenomenon of three tides in one day in the river here. Ingenious minds and those who claim to know the secrets of the Heavens foretell great changes such as occurred after the same phenomenon occurred before. But there is no cause for fear as it was all perfectly natural as the wind was so strong that it held up the water in the river and prevented it flowing to the sea before the next tide came; it has thus excited ingenious minds to quite baseless speculations.
The person from Churland only has the character of envoy. He has not yet obtained his first audience, though he expects it at any moment, experiencing the dilatoriness which is usual and incurable at this Court.
London, the 20th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
377. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Everyone is raising troops in the country about the Rhine, and they are again beating the drum for the king of England, to provide him soon with a small corps for the prosecution of some design with ships, as he has wished for a long while, with the Spaniards.
Vienna, the 21st October, 1656.
[Italian.
Oct. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
378. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Cromwell's minister is about to depart for London. I am informed by a trustworthy authority that the chief reason for his journey is the negotiations between France and England and the removal of the duke of York to Flanders because his stay at this Court displeases Cromwell and makes him mistrustful. Next winter will bring big transactions between France and England, and not only they but with Portugal, Sweden and the empire as well, and in the coming campaign results will be seen to correspond.
Paris, the 24th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
379. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ease with which parliament agreed to prosecute the war with Spain is matched by its slowness in discussing the means for waging it. Every day the assembly debates this important matter, but so far nothing has been matured or decided, as they find all the proposals made difficult to carry out and the taxes proposed arouse the dislike of the people. So their debates drag on because they do not know which way to turn. Parliament would prefer not to burden the people in a way that would make them cry out, knowing how injurious to the government their grumbling would be. But in the end they will be obliged to impose this burden, so they certainly will not be able to escape an extraordinary tax. They propose to divide it into five subsidies which would realise the 2½ millions mentioned, collected in five instalments to avoid the murmuring that would be occasioned by collecting so considerable a sum all at once, and that it may be less felt. The people will have to bottle up their lamentations and refrain from rioting, blindly obeying the will of the autocrat.
Of all the acts passed by parliament so far they attach most importance to two, and they really are of consequence. The first is against the House of Stuart. It pronounces traitors all who profess a spark of sympathy for that side, and requires every subject to abjure that House and declare that he will never recognise King Charles or any of his race for what they really are. This is important and many will pretend to agree to avoid losing the property they hold, dissimulating their real feelings of loyalty to their natural prince. Others who hate the House will do it with all their heart. Others again, and Catholics in particular who have little left to lose, will prefer to be reduced to misery and to begging their bread rather than consent to take such an oath, and will take refuge in other lands, seeking a living in wandering about the world, in a wretched state little suited to their rank and condition.
The second is to protect his Highness and preserve internal peace. For this they have set up a tribunal to consist of 150 members, three chosen by each county, whose duty it will be to keep an eye on all intrigues and plots against the Protector and the state, the intention being to consolidate the government and make it durable and longlived.
The wind continues contrary for vessels approaching these shores, and even prevents the sailing of the barques which carry the letters, so violent has it been. It also delays the arrival of the Spanish prisoners and of the captured plate, which are expected as soon as the weather grows calm. Meanwhile they have already got ready the quarters for the persons of quality, and have arranged to convert the plate into money, consisting of crowns and half crowns. They propose to make these with a new device not used for the other coins previously issued under his Highness's rule. On one side are to be engraved the arms of the three kingdoms with those of the Protector in the middle, and on the other the figure of his Highness on horseback, the usual form with all the past kings. (fn. 4) This excites comment and some feel quite sure that parliament will not separate without adding a greater title to Cromwell. Appearances certainly indicate it, but until it happens there can be no certainty. Many considerations militate in favour of this step, but great obstacles render it difficult, and particularly this that if the Protector assumes royalty he will have to place the troops, of whom he is now the head, under the command of some one else, while now they are all under his control. Thus he would not feel himself secure as he does now that he holds the reins in his own hands. If once this proud courser were allowed to go free it would be a hard matter to recapture him and replace his bridle. So those who think most deeply believe that he will prefer to keep his present position without aiming at a higher one, which might unhorse him and lead to change and disorder. In any case with the title of Protector he does exactly what he wishes and has as much power as if he was raised to the rank of king or emperor.
Persisting in their intention to inflict the greatest possible injury on the dominions of the Catholic, and desiring to carry out their plans against Jamaica, in addition to the men and supplies sent, they are at present embarking three regiments of infantry in Ireland to be sent in that direction together with supplies of food and munitions of war to give additional strength to the English forces in those parts so that they need fear no shock from the enemy and so that encouraged by the quantity and quality of seasoned troops experienced in war they may be in a position to make some attempt of consequence.
To the fleet before Cadiz they are sending ships with supplies of every kind to furnish them with all they need, with instructions not to leave their post until further order and to keep watch on the whole coast of Spain, to harass as much as possible any ship that wishes to enter the ports of the Catholic's dominions and to attack and capture all craft that they happen to encounter.
The audiences of the commissioner of Sweden and of the envoy of Churland are still postponed, and they have to put up with the delay, which is truly vexing and most annoying.
London, the 27th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 28.
Senato,
Secreta,
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
380. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his letters of the 6th inst. With regard to what the Dutch ambassador said about the idea of the States to send a squadron from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, he should encourage the idea, pointing out the benefit that would result therefrom in general to all the nations and the great glory that the Lords States would obtain in particular in scattering men so hateful and pernicious to the princes of Europe.
Ayes, 108. Noes, 0. Neutral, 11.
[Italian.]
Oct. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
381. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
All the care of the Spanish ministers is devoted to finding money to set in motion the projects reported of the king of England, in connection with the intelligences he has had for so long a time in the country.
Vienna, the 28th October, 1656.
[Italian.]
Oct. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Zurigo.
Venetian
Archives.
382. Paolo Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Zurich, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Pel, the resident of England, called upon me here. He is the only foreign minister remaining. He was very courteous and complimentary, expressing the desire for good relations with the most serene republic and their wish to afford vigorous help in present circumstances if they were not turned aside by many most weighty interests of their own. I replied to the best of my ability.
Zurich, the 28th October, 1656.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Probably refers to the action of Sir George Booth, on 18 September o.s. Parl. History, Vol. xxi., page 26; Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., page 424.
2 Rudolph van Struch. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1656–7, page 300.
3 Barkstead survived until 1662 when he was executed as a regicide.
4 The actual coins of 1656 have the arms as described, but a head only, instead of a figure on horseback. Grueber: Handbook to the Coins of Great Britain and Ireland, page 127; Plate xxix.