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Dynasty: Stuarts
Ruler: James II in Ireland
Reigned: 1685 - 1688
Denomination: Brass 'Gun money' Shilling 'Large/thin' issue
Date of Issue: August 1689
Obverse: Bust of James left "IACOBVS • II • DIE • GRATIA"
Reverse: Cross-sceptres behind crown. "J R" in left/right field. "XII/Aug" in top/bottom field. "MAG • BR • FRA • ET • HIB • REX • 1689 •"
Weight: 5.2 gms
Diameter: 25.7 mm

JAMES II and Gun Money

James II, second son of Charles I, ruled between 1685 and 1688. The fact that he was Catholic brought him into conflict with Parliament and his subjects. The problem came to a head in April 1688, when he issued his Declaration of Indulgence. Public alarm increased when Queen Mary gave birth to a Roman Catholic son and heir, James Francis Edward, raising the prospect of a permanent Catholic dynasty.

On 30 June 1688, a group of seven Protestant nobles invited the Prince of Orange to come to England with an army. Believing that his own army would be adequate, James refused the assistance of Louis XIV, fearing that the English would oppose French intervention. However, he lost his nerve and finally fled to France in December 1688.

James wanted to get his crown back and so, with the assistance of French troops, James landed in Ireland in March 1689. The Irish Parliament did not follow the example of the English Parliament; it declared that James remained King and passed a massive bill of attainder against those who had rebelled against him. However he was ultimately defeated at the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690 James fled to France once more, departing from Kinsale, never to return to any of his former kingdoms.

Gun Money

Gun money was an issue of coins made by the forces of James II during the Williamite War in Ireland between 1689 and 1691. They were minted in base metal (copper, brass or pewter), and were designed to be redeemed for silver coins following a victory by James II and consequently bore the date in months to allow a gradual replacement. As James lost the war, that replacement never took place, although the coins were allowed to circulate at much reduced values before the copper coinage was resumed. They were mostly withdrawn from circulation in the early 18th century.

The name "gun money" stems from the idea that they were minted from melted down guns. However, many other brass objects, such as church bells, were also used.

There were two issues. The first "large" issue consisted of sixpences, shillings and half crowns (2 1/2 shillings). The second, "small" issue consisted of shillings, halfcrowns and crowns (5 shillings). Some of the second issue were overstruck on large issue pieces, with shillings struck over sixpences, half crowns on shillings and crowns on half crowns. The most notable feature of the coins is the date, because the month of striking was also included. This was so that after the war (in the event of James' victory), soldiers would be able to claim interest on their wages, which had been withheld from proper payment for so long.

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