Sir John Gilbert Yorke, Master of the Mint

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Sir John Gilbert Yorke, Master of the Mint

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Hardingstone Co., Northampton, England
Death: Died in England
Place of Burial: City of London, Greater London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir John Edmund Yorke of Gowthwaite and Catherine Yorke (Patterdale)
Husband of Ayme Bond and Lady Ann Yorke/Paget (Smyth)
Father of Margaret Yorke; Peter Yorke, of Gouthwaite; Anne Hilton; Sir Edmund Yorke (Smyth); Sir Edward Yorke and 9 others
Brother of Alice Yorke (Patterdale); Yorke and Christopher Yorke (Patterdale)

Occupation: Knighted 1549 "Master of theMint"
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Gilbert Yorke, Master of the Mint

Sir John York or Yorke (died 1569?) was an English merchant who became Master of the Mint.

He was third son of John Yorke, by his wife Katherine Patterdale or Patterdall. On 3 September 1535 he arrived at Calais from Antwerp with intelligence of a sermon preached against King Henry VIII, by a friar in Antwerp. In 1544 he was appointed assay master to the mint. In 1547 he was promoted to be Master of the Mint at Southwark, established in the former mansion of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.

In 1549 he was sheriff of London. In October of this year the quarrel had broken out between the Protector Somerset and John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Somerset as a defensive move had retired with King Edward VI to Hampton Court, and asked the City of London to furnish him with a thousand men for the royal protection. Warwick, in order to counteract him, moved into the city and stayed at York's house in Walbrook from 6 October 1549. The city came onto Warwick's side. On 8 October the confederate lords dined together at York's house, and on the following day the common council responded to their summons of aid by promising a contingent of soldiers to support them. As a reward for his services Edward VI visited York at his official residence in Southwark on 17 October, and, after dining there, knighted him. Somerset, having been confined in the Tower of London, was brought to York's house at Walbrook on 6 February following, and there released on his recognisances. Here the privy council again sat two days after, probably for security.

York appears to have enjoyed at this time the office of master of the king's woods. Edmund Bonner, bishop of London, was deprived of office on 1 October 1549, and the temporalities of the see passed to the crown. York thereupon began felling the bishop's woods. The privy council on 24 February 1550 issued an injunction against him, further prohibiting him from removing the woods already felled, which suggests suspicions of peculation. He apparently disobeyed, for a fresh prohibition was issued on 17 March. On the following 14 June the council again wrote to him, this time forbidding him to continue felling the king's woods near Deptford, the timber to be preserved for naval purposes. Meanwhile York was active in his duties at the mint, at a time when changes in the coinage followed each other in rapid succession.

During some time in the summer of 1550 York was employed in secret missions abroad. His first business was to smuggle over munitions of war from the Netherlands. To prevent information of this from reaching the Netherlands government, the privy council forbade official of Calais and Dover from searching his goods. In the following February (1551) he was commissioned to repay to the Fuggers the sum of 127,000 florins borrowed by the king in the previous June (1550). In the summer of 1551 he repaid for the king another sum of £23,279 borrowed from the Fuggers. By way of gratification he received a license to export eight hundred fodders of lead. He was also made under-treasurer of the Mint in the Tower in 1550, and promoted to be master in 1551. He had contrived to render himself acceptable to the two rival parties in the privy council, headed by Somerset and Warwick respectively. To Somerset he had advanced a sum of £2,500.

York enriched himself by foreign trading. He had acquired land in Yorkshire, and also at Woolwich. In May 1553 he formed one of the Russia Company incorporated under a charter of Edward VI. He retained the friendship of the Duke of Northumberland (as John Dudley now was), and he was prominent as a supporter of the claims of Lady Jane Grey. On 23 July 1553, after the collapse of the Grey conspiracy and two days later than the duke, York was put under arrest in his own house by the lord mayor. On 30 July the privy council issued a warrant for his committal to the Tower of London. An inventory of his goods was ordered, and they were seized to the queen's use. Sixty cloths which were being exported by him were stopped at Dover. On 31 July he was sent to the Tower, being confined in the Bell Tower. On 18 October he was released. The inhabitants of Whitby, tenants of the lands of Whitby Abbey which he had bought from the Duke of Northumberland, took occasion of his imprisonment to bring an action against him in the court of requests for excessive raising of their rents. On 24 October the court gave judgment against him. About the same time another action was brought against him in the same court by Avere or Alvered Uvedale, mineral lessee of the recently dissolved Byland Abbey, complaining that York having purchased the manor of Netherdale, Yorkshire, part of the land of the abbey in June 1553, had refused to allow the plaintiff to cut down timber for his mines, and had seized a large quantity of lead ore belonging to him. The issue of this case has not been preserved.

After his release, on 5 November, York attended at St Stephen's, Walbrook, the sermon of John Feckenham, Queen Mary's private chaplain and confessor. He was at this time an alderman of the city; but his place at the Mint had been filled, and he does not reappear in public life till after the accession of Elizabeth. On 5 October 1560, when a project of recoinage was under consideration, York wrote to William Cecil a letter of advice, winding up with a request for Cecil's interest in his favour. Among his recommendations was one for the employment of foreign refiners, as being of superior skill. It would appear from a letter from a Flemish company to Sir Thomas Gresham, written from Antwerp in this year, that York actually went to Flanders on this business, but he was not reinstated in office at the Mint. He died some time before the end of 1569. [edit] Family

York married Anne or Anna, daughter of Robert Smyth of London. According to the ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ of 1563–4, and Glover's ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ in 1584–5, Lady York afterwards married Robert Paget of London; but according to the ‘Visitation of London’ in 1560 she was the widow of one Pagett when she married York. Sir John York left ten sons, two of whom were knights, Sir Edmund and Sir Edward, a vice-admiral in the navy. Rowland York is said to have been another. He also left three daughters. The spelling of the name, both in the signature of his letter to Cecil and in the plea put in by him in his defence against the tenants of Whitby in the court of requests, is York.

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  • SUMMARY: The document below is the last will and testament, dated 7 December 1585, of Sir Edmund Yorke, fourth, but third surviving son of 'Sir John Yorke (d. 1569) and his wife, Anne Smyth (d.1575). For the will of Sir John Yorke (d.1569), see TNA PROB 11/51, ff.29-30. For the will of Anne (nee Smyth) Yorke, see TNA PROB 11/57, f. 386. For the Yorke pedigree, see Harwood, H.W. Forsyth, ed., The Genealogist, New Series, Vol. XX (London: George Bell, 1904), Pg. 24: Norcliffe, Charles Best, ed., The Visitation of Yorkshire in the Years 1563 and 1564 made by William Flower, Vol. XCI, (London: Harliean Society, 1881), p. 357: and Howard, Joseph Jackson, and George John Armytage, eds., The Visitation of London in the Year 1568 Taken by Robert Cooke (London: Harleian Society, 1869, p. 81, all available online. ....
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John Yorke Memorial

Birth: unknown Death: Jan. 18, 1569

Family links:

 Ann Smith Yorke (1526 - 1575)*

 Edmund Yorke (1545 - 1615)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: St Stephen Walbrook Churchyard London City of London Greater London, England

Created by: Todd Whitesides Record added: Apr 22, 2016 Find A Grave Memorial# 161488468

Family and Education

3rd s. of John York by Katherine Patterdale. m. Anne, da. of Robert Smyth of London, 11s. inc. Peter 4da. Kntd. Oct. 1549

Offices Held

Assay master, Tower I mint 1544-5; under-treasurer, Southwark mint June 1545-51, Tower I mint 1551-2; master of King’s woods in southern parts by Aug. 1547-d.; Admiralty official by Feb. 1550-?3; j. p. Mdx. 1547; sheriff, London and Mdx. 1549-50; commr. sewers, Essex and Mdx. 1554.


York’s family were merchants of the staple, trading in London and Calais, and maintaining connexions with their native city. By exploiting his position as a merchant trading abroad, York was able to render considerable service to the Crown by raising loans, manipulating the exchange, etc. His post in the mint may have been in recognition of these services, or he may have secured it through the patronage of the Earl of Warwick, with common interest in lands belonging to the former abbeys of Byland and Fountains. York undoubtedly supported the Henriclan position: in 1535 he condemned ‘the malicious intent of the Bishop of Rome’ and arrested a ‘lewd friar’ for delivering slanderous sermons. Certainly one who was a known follower of Warwick, who had been sheriff of London in 1549 and at whose house the Privy Council used to meet in the period preceding the arrest of the Duke of Somerset, would have held religious views acceptable to the protestant temper of the regime.

As a mint official both at Southwark and the Tower, York was allowed to provide bullion at prices higher than those generally in force, and was thus able to make a personal profit. In 1551 he and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton handled the beginning of the restoration of the coinage and many of the coins then issued were stamped with Y, one of York’s mint marks. His conduct in his other offices was of less importance. His zeal in cutting down trees as master of the King’s woods earned him more than one rebuke from the Privy Council and his office in the Admiralty is known only because in February 1550 he was ordered to sell a consignment of prize sugar. His public service to an end with the death of Edward VI, but he had already lost his mint office. His advice on foreign coins was when the coinage was again being restored, but his association with Northumberland’s trade. In 1555 he became one of the 24 assistant of the newly-formed company of unknown lands, under the governorship of Sebastian Cabot.

The reason for York’s seeking election to Parliament for the first time in t559 is unknown. Perhaps it was to lend support to the new protestant regime. Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, presumably nominated him at Boroughbridge, perhaps at the instance of Sir Robert Dudley, in whose service one of his sons was in 1569.

York next appears in Antwerp, in June 1560, buying gunpowder and saltpetre and earning the unfavourable attention of Sir Thomas Gresham, who was trying to monopolize the English trade in these commodities. In October of that year York proffered his advice on the projected re-coinage and on the manipulation of the exchanges to Sir William Cecil, but Cecil presumably felt that with Gresham’s services at his command he could ignore York. Concerning the remaining eight years of York’s life, little information survives. In January 1566, as a freeman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, he contributed £6 13s.4d. toward the building of the Royal Exchange.

York made his will in April 1561. He shared his lands, mainly in Yorkshire, among his sons. The East Riding property, at Heslerton, Peddelthorpe, Rudston, Sherburn and Sledmere went to younger sons, but the large estates concentrated in Craven and Nidderdale passed intact to his eldest surviving son Peter, A bequest of 1,000 marks was made to his daughter Jane, and the residue of his movable goods to his wife, the executrix. York died in January or February 1569 and was buried in the church of St. Stephen Walbrook, in which parish he had lived since 1546 when he had bought a house there from Sir Thomas Pope.

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Sir John Gilbert Yorke, Master of the Mint's Timeline

Hardingstone Co., Northampton, England
Age 1
Age 1
Gowthwaite, England
Age 14
Age 26
Cotton End, Hardingstone County, Northampton, England
April 1554
Age 30
Age 32
Age 41
City of London, Greater London, UK
Age 45