Giving Six and Eight-Pence (a Noble) as a Reward

Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2015 06:38 am
C.S. Forester has Hornblower receive in the post multiple sums of six and eight-pence and three and four-pence, apparently as tokens of esteem or as rewards for his exploits (Flying Colours, chap. 17). I can discover that 6/8, a third of a pound or 80 pence, was once a gold coin called a Noble but these would have been very rare and valuable by Hornblower's time. The sum was also a common fee for a lawyer and possibly for other professional services and fines.

Is there any record of a custom of giving 6/8 or 3/4 in this context? Any citations would be welcome.
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Tes yeux noirs
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2015 08:41 am
The word "noble" could just denote a sum of money amounting to six shillings and eightpence composed of any mix of coins, not necessarily a rare one-noble coin, just as a guinea did not necessarily (or even very often) mean a guinea coin, often just the sum of one pound and one shilling. It was very common to give fractions of one pound as gifts or rewards.

Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2015 12:58 am
@Tes yeux noirs,
Thanks for your response. I should have been clear that the text I'm interested in mentions only "innumerable six and eightpences and three and fourpences" and I discovered the term "noble" only after my own research. Clearly you're correct about mixes of coins being used. I'd really appreciate finding any reference to a custom of giving amounts of a third or a sixth of a pound in the context of a reward for success.
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2015 05:54 am
The problem with a particular sum being traditionally offered is inflation. Back in Hornblower's time a noble was a lot of money, now you wouldn't be able to get a cup of coffee with it.

This is a link to seaman's annual salaries during the Napoleonic wars. (The money has been converted to decimal just to confuse things.)

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