Queen Elizabeth I English sixpence coin, Richmond Island, 1572

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Description

This sixpence coin, dated to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, was hidden by Walter Bagnall on Richmond Island before his death in 1631. The coin was stamped with the text "ELIZABETH.D.G.ANG.FR. ET.HI.REGINA," or "Elizabeth by the grace of God, Queen of England..." and "POSUI DEV. ADIVTOREM.MEV.," or "I have made God my helper."

Walter Bagnall was the first European settler on Richmond Island, near Cape Elizabeth, in 1628. He became wealthy by cheating the Wabanaki, specifically the female leader Warrabitta’s family, at his trading post. According to Massachusetts Governor Winthrop, "Bagnall...was a wicked fellow, and had much wronged the Indians."

Bagnall had violated his social responsibilities, and as a result, Warrabitta’s brother, Skitterygusset, killed Bagnall and burned down the trading post. This act was a redistribution of power and asserted Wabanaki jurisdiction of the area. It is thought that Bagnall hoarded and buried money just before his murder. A trove of coins and a signet ring were discovered on the site in 1855. The number of coins and their international span demonstrates the far reaches of the fur trade in Maine.


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