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A George II silver Alms Badge for the Joseph Banks Almshouses at Revesby Abbey.


A George II cast silver Almshouse Badge with the arms granted to the Banks family of Beck Hall, Yorkshire and Revesby Abbey Lincolnshire, marked by Edward Vincent, London 1728.

This Badge was one of ten made by Vincent in 1728/9 for Joseph Banks (1695-1741) in accordance with the wshes of his father’s will. Joseph Banks senior, 1665-1727, had amassed a considerable fortune, rising from Sheffield attorney to become agent to the Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire estates of the Dukes of Leeds, Norfolk, and Newcastle. He was elected M.P. for Great Grimsby in 1715. Amongst his numerous acquisitions of property, he bought the Revesby Abbey estate from the Howard family for his eldest son in 1711, paying £14,000. He was granted arms in 1719 after providing the College of Herald’s with a false pedigree showing descent from the Banks family of Bank Newton in Yorkshire. In his will [PROB 11/614/427. Proved December 1727], he left £50 annually to provide for ten impoverished farmers:
AND LASTLY I hereby Declare my Intention to be that as soon as I can conveniently get Brick and other Materials ready I Design to build an Hospital or Alms House for Ten poor decayed Farmers who are come to poverty by loss of Cattle or other Inevitable accidents and not by Idleness Drunkedness or other Extravagance and each of them to have £5 a year a peice yearly a good Room to dwell in to be paid monthly by equal portions and none to be admitted till Sixty Years of Age and the Widdowes to such Farmers as before described to be equally entitled to this Charity and to be put in and out for Misdemeanours at the Discretion of the Heyre of my Family owner of Reavesby so as there be no vacancys above Six Weeks after the death or removal of any. And the said Alms house to be built on Reavesby Green and the Heir of my Family to keep in his hand fifteen shillings of the said £5 yearly and buy them therewith Fewell against Winter I mean of such of them as take not care of Fewell for themselves And at first and every seven years after I order Ten new Blew Gowns to be made and Badges of Silver with my Arms on it to be sett on the Right Arm of every Gown only to be worn going to Church on Sundays and Christmas Day or any publick Feast or Rejoyceings appointed by Law which I expect they all Doe and sitt together in a Pew I or my Heyrs appoint and that they demean themselves decently as good Christians and I charge all my estate at Reavesby for ever with the said yearly payments amounting to Fifty Pounds a year in all besides Gowns every seven years but the same Badges to put on the new Gowns But if my son fail supplying Vacancys in the said Hospital within Six Weeks as aforesaid Then I appoint and authorise the Parsons of Kirkby Super Baine and Marham le Fenn and the Vicar of East Kirby and their Successors for ever to present a fit person to such Vacancy qualified as aforesaid who shall have the said Five Pounds a Year and a Room and Gown for his life as the rest have but be removed for plain Misdemeanours as Drunkedness or other Disorders contentions lyeing out of his or her Room above a night in a month not keeping his or her Room clean decent and in good order and for not assisting any of the other Ten when they are sick or under weaknesses or other Infirmityes And I order a Guinea every year to be paid for reading this Clause of my Will in the Parish Churches of Kirkby Baines Marham and East Kirkby aforesaid by the Rector and Vicar respectively to preserve the memory of this Charity and that it may not be lost and misapply’d as many are which shall be read the first year by the Parson of Kirkby Baine and he to have the said One Guinea and the next year by the Parson of Marham and he to have the One Guinea and the third by the Vicar of East Kirkby and he to have the Guinea and so successively for ever And I would have such of the Ten Poor as are able to Labour about home for their better Maintenance And Except such of them as are so able each to help Heyr of my Family fourteen Days every Hay time to get his Hay for the use of the Hall and Parke for ever IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Twenty Seventh Day of July Anno. Dom 1726 and in the 12th Year of King George’s Reigne.’
The cost of erecting the almshouses, completed in 1729, survives amongst the Bank archives:
‘An account of the expence of building the ten almshouses at
Revesby, finished March 1729.
£ s. d.
For 940 foot of timber used in this worke, measured and delivered by Wm. Banks . . . . . . 47
Per Simon Flint, carpenter, his bill for work done as carpenter . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
To Mich: Gibbons, bricklayer, for 116 rood and halfe of brick worke at 3s. 6d.
And for laying 10 floors 30 yards each at l|d.
Bricks used in the walls reckoning 1100 to the rood is 27,600 at 16s. per m.
Bricks in each floor 900, ten floors 8,900 . .
To Mr. Young for 23 chalder of lime delivered at £1.4.0
For 63 hundred of reed at 4s. per hundred . . 2 hundred and halfe farmarling at £1.6.0 . .
To Holgarth, thatcher, for thatching the whole rushrope etc. as by bill
Ten locks and ten pair hinges and staples at 4s. 6d each door Nailes of all kinds
Tom Kirkham, glaceing the windows Smiths worke, done by John Nelson . .
To carriage of all the timber bricks sand and other materials, being a summers work for 2 draughts attended by 3 or 4 labourers
To levelling the ground. .
To Mr. Ball, cutting the inscription
To leading the thatch, being 32 load at 5s. per load. .
16 April 1729.
We whose names are hereto subscribed being concerned in
provideing and paying for the severall matterials and workmanship, of and about building the ten almes houses in Revesby, do hereby testifie, that the whole expence thereof amounted to Three hundred fifty pounds two shillings and four pence, as near as we can compute and adjust the same, as by the particulars on other side. Witnesse
our hands, Hen. Browne Wm. Banks.
[see: The Lincoln Record Society, VOLUME 45, The Letters and Papers of the Banks Family of Revesby Abbey 1704— 1760. Edited by J. W. F. HILL LL.M., Litt.D., F.S.A. Published 1952]. Sadly this volume has no details of the purchase of the badges from Edward Vincent [or the retailer to whom he supplied them].
The alsmhouses remain but were rebuilt by the then owner of the Revesby estate, J. Banks-Stanhope, in 1962. They were further restored in 1987. The current descendants of the Banks family, owners of the estate and trustees of the almshouses are the Wiggins-Davies family.
A very full account of the Banks family can be found online:

Of the ten Badges made in 1728, five others survive:
One in the British museum collection acquired in 1925 from W.L. Marks, museum number 1925,0214.1. This badge featured in the BBC series ‘A History of the World‘, which focussed on Joseph Banks’ great grandson, the botanist Sir Joseph Banks.
Four others were acquired by the Heslam Trust with the aid of a Victoria and Albert Museum Grant, 1982 | UG 82/53-56. [See ]

Silver badges survive in fairly large numbers for schools, watermen, waits and a variety of officials from the late 17th century onwards. Most of the many almshouses required the inhabitants to wear a distinctive badge which usually incorporated the coat-of-arms of the founder. At Thame in Oxfordshire, for example, the almsmen and almswomen were to wear ‘a black ‘frize’ gown each year, at ‘Allhollentide’ (Oct 31st), and at Christmas every fourth year, a red ‘frize’ gown for Sunday best, complete with silver badge worn on the left arm bearing the arms of Lord Williams‘. The earliest surviving silver almshouse badges from the late 17th and early 18th century are formed from repoussé sheet metal [see, for example, an unmarked 17th century Badge, lot 643 in the Holder Collection sold at Woolley and Wallis 25th October 2016, with the arms of the Verney family of Middle Claydon; another hallmarked by Francis Singleton, London 1682, with the crest of James Bertie, Earl of Abingdon, sold Chiswick auctions, lot 333, 23rd October 2019; several badges survive by Benjamin Pyne, London 1708, chased with the arms and initials of Emery Hill who founded almshouses in Rochester Row, London, in 1708]. The Banks badges are particularly unusual for their robust gauge and date.

The maker, Edward Vincent, supplied domestic silver of good quality but little is known of his background and life. Two of the finest pieces bearing Vincent’s mark were also made for lawyers: one, of the same year as this badge, being a seal salver made for Sir Robert Eyre; and another salver of 1729 for the Speaker of the House of Commons, Arthur Onslow, who had entered the Middle Temple in 1707 and was called to the Bench of the Inn in 1728. He presented the salver to the Middle Temple and it remains in their collection.

The first mark entered at the Goldsmiths’ Company that can definitely be attributed to an Edward Vincent is Grimwade 649, entered as a largeworker on 25th June 1739 as of Dean Street, Fetter Lane. The mark, Grimwade 648, which is struck on this badge is assumed to be an earlier mark used by Edward Vincent entered in the first surviving largeworkers’ register but the page with surnames beginning ‘V’ having been lost. There are also other marks, Grimwade 2983, found struck on a cup of 1714, and another, Grimwade 3852, found on a pair of candlesticks of 1705, which Grimwade and others have surmised to be Vincent’s marks. According to Grimwade, of the three possible entries in the Goldsmiths’ Company registers of apprenticeship bindings, that of Edward Vincent, son of William Vincent of Hendon, Middlesex, yeoman, to Robert Cooper of Arundel street, Strand, on the 20th December 1699 [free of the company on 23rd July 1712] is the most likely. Grimwade based that assertion on the comparison of signatures, and the quality of the silver marked by Robert Cooper and, subsequently, of Vincent. Grimwade further notes that an Edward Vincent signed the 1716 petition against foreigners working as journeymen silversmiths. Moreover, an Edward Vincent, goldsmith, of the Strand, was bankrupt in 1722, and an Edward Vincent, ‘working goldsmith’ of Dean Street, Fetter Lane, was a prisoner for debt in the Fleet prison in May 1743. The scholar, John Culme has pointed out that another silversmith who marked high quality silver, John White, was also an apprentice to Robert Cooper and had an association with Vincent in the making of two seal salvers of 1728 [Sotheby’s London, ‘Treasures’, 5/07/2017, lot 23]. Certainly, both silversmiths made use of the engraver Charles Gardner.

Undoubtedly. The life and work of Edward Vincent needs further detailed study if the questions surrounding him are to be resolved. It seems likely, in fact, that there may have been more than one Goldsmith of that name. Dr. Timothy Schroder, in his catalogue of the gold and silver in the Ashmolean museum, refers to the work of a previous curator at the museum, Gerald Taylor, who compiled a list of possible Vincent-marked pieces, based on Grimwade’s marks, spanning the years 1705-1766. The length of career suggested by Taylor renders the probability that there was more than one Goldsmith called ‘Edward Vincent’ even more likely.

One of the apprenticeships of an ‘Edward Vincent’ to a goldsmith, which might well account for the later Edward Vincent known to be working from Dean Street, Fetter Lane, is that of 1711 when Edward Vincent, son of Robert Vincent, Stationer, was apprenticed to William Parker, goldsmith of the City of London, in consideration of £100. Robert Vincent was a wealthy Stationer who, in 1727 was at the Crown and Sceptre, ‘over against Fetter-lane near St. Dunstan’s Church in Fleet street.’ Robert Vincent’s elder son, Robert [junior] inherited his father’s business in 1737 and, when he died in 1764, he left a small annuity to his brother Edward of £40 per annum.
If this Edward Vincent was the silversmith who worked from Dean street, Fetter Lane [not far from the premises of Robert Vincent, elder and junior], and registered a mark in 1739, then he had become a prisoner for debt in the Fleet prison by May 1743, when he is listed as petitioning for relief under the Act for Insolvent Debtors: ‘Edward Vincent, late of Dean street Fetter-lane, in the parish of St. Andrew Holbourn, Working Goldsmith.’ He is recorded as being released from the Fleet prison in September 1743. His state of impoverishment might account for the annuity left by his brother in 1764 if the family link is correct. The likelihood that he was, in fact, the son of Robert Vincent is increased when reference is made to the will of Robert Vincent senior – who refers to two children of his son Edward: namely Samuel and Sarah. The registers of St. Bride Fleet Street show the christening of a Sarah Vincent, daughter of Edward and Sarah Vincent ‘of Wine Office Court‘ on the 9th March 1726; and the christening of Samuel, son of the same parents on 24th March 1725. Next door to Edward Vincent of Wine Office Court, according to the Land Tax records for Farringdon Without in the years 1726 and 1727, was Charles Gardner. The registers of St. Bride further show the marriage of Edward Vincent, aged 27 of the parish, a bachelor, to Sarah Kentish of the same parish, spinster, aged 21. Sarah Kentish’s father, Samuel, had died in 1717, and her mother, Sarah Kentish, died in 1729. In the will she left an annuity for the specific benefit of her daughter and declared that Sarah’s husband, Edward, ‘hath been to me as son very undutiful and to her as husband very inhuman deceitful and barbarous.’ It is not known what became of Samuel Vincent – although a Samuel Vincent was apprenticed to a Stationer in 1740. However, the daughter, Sarah, died a spinster in Greenwich in 1774. [See Nat. Arch. Prob 11/1014/190 for the will of Sarah Kentish].


SKU: O5191 Category:



Very good overall with minor knock to edge and some scratching to surface at the base and side. The other surviving examples have the same surface markings which were probably caused through use.


Length – 10.70cm., Width – 8.80 cm.; Weight – 157.50 gms.

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