20th February 1547. Sinecure.

One of the many rewards of being a Courtier was to receive one or more sinecures. One such was that of Mastership of the Bristol Mint as acquired by embezzler, Member of Parliament, conspirator and High Sheriff of Wiltshire, William Sharington (?1495-1553), who was knighted at the Coronation of Edward VI Today in 1547. He eventually owned 14 Manors.(1) 

Some coins of Bristol include gold sovereigns of Henry VIII which bear mint mark ‘WS’ in a monogram.


Testoons of the reign of Henry VIII found near Doncaster.

It was in 1546 that Sharington was made Under Treasurer (Master of the Mint) which had been established in Bristol Castle, for which he was paid 200 marks p.a.

It was the only Mint outside The Tower of London and the only one outside London to mint gold coins. However he succumbed to devious practices; in 1548 he was making coins too light and minting more than was ordered.

Sharington was also involved in a plot with Thomas, Lord Seymour to overthrow the Protector-ship, in the minority of Edward VI, of Seymour’s brother Edward, 1st Duke of Somerset and capture the King, with Sharington supplying the money.

In January 1549 both were arrested; Sharington confessed, had his land attainted, blamed Seymour who was charged with High Treason and beheaded. Sharington was pardoned, fined £12,867 and received back his estates.

In July 1553 Queens Lady Jane Grey and Mary signed Bills for the new Sheriff of Wilts; ‘in the room of Sir William Sharington knight deceased’.

Sharington was portrayed by Hans Holbein, the Younger. ‘William Sharington drawing in black and coloured chalk on pink-primed paper’. It was acquired by Charles II in 1675 for the Royal Collection at Windsor.


When Lacock Abbey, Wilts., was dissolved it was sold for £783 to… William Sharington.

(1) The Mint also produced coin for Ireland.  He died 6th July 1553.

Ref: wikipedia.org/Pic Image of Portrait.

Ref: timelineauctions.com/Images of coins.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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