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Woodbridge Halfpenny D&H15

On the front side is a portrait of Thomas Sikford (Thomas Sekford 1515-1587). Circle legend: "THO: SEKFORD ESQ FOUNDED WOODBRIDGE ALMSHOUSES 1587".

The reverse side shows the coat of arms of the Sickford family. Circle legend: "AT WHOSE EXPENSE COUNTY MAPS WERE FIRST ENGRAVED 1574." Inside the beaded circle is the motto in Latin: “ORATIONES. ET. ELEEMOS. ASCENDVMT . IN . MEMORIAM. CORAM. DEO”, a phrase from the Acts of the Apostles (10.4): “Your prayers and your alms have come to a memorial before God.”
Edge inscription: “PUBLISHED BY R. LODER 1796 . X.” Engraver - Arnold (Arnold), manufacturer - Latvich (Lutwyche).

The Thomas Sickford token was commissioned by Robert Loder, a publisher, printer and bookseller in Woodbridge, and the author of Statues and Ordinances of Sekford's Almshouses, published by him in 1792.

William Cecil presiding over the Court of Wards and Liveries

The engraver Arnold took the image of the portrait to create the stamp from a painting showing a meeting of the Court of Guardianship and Livery, where Thomas Sickford had the honor of presiding (second from right to William Cecil, seated in the center). The image turned out to be somewhat distorted: the ears are too small, the nose is thick, and the hat seems to be floating above the head.

Thomas Seckford by S. Lowell, published by Robert Loder,
after J. Johnson line engraving, published 1792

Thomas Sickford was born in 1515 at Woodbridge, Suffolk and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. His fellow student was William Cecil Lord Burghley (William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley 1520-1598), who became his friend for life. When Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne in 1558, Lord Burghley became Secretary of State and her closest adviser. A month later, Sickford was appointed Master of the Court of Inquiries, a kind of civil court that tried the cases of the poor. A few years later he was appointed Surveyor to the Ward and Livery Court. He was considered one of the most able lawyers in all of England. He also received £100 a year for accompanying the Queen. During the Queen's travels across the country, one of the Masters of the Court of Inquiries was always present with her. There were only two such Masters, so Sickford, must have spent considerable time in the Queen's presence. He held this post for 27 years.

Sickford was a large landowner. He owned Sikford Hall, which served as the main residence, estates in Clerkenwell and Ipswich. He set up an almshouse at Woodbridge for thirteen people on a small allowance of £2 or £3 a year. Each of the residents of the almshouse wore a silver badge in the form of the coat of arms of Sikford with the motto, which served as the prototype for the image of the reverse. This orphanage still exists today.

Lord Burghley commissioned Sickford to create a geographical atlas of all the counties of England. Using his own funds, Sickford hired the explorer Christopher Saxton for the task. The first card was issued in 1574, and the entire project was completed by 1579, as indicated by the circular legend on the reverse. The coat of arms of Sickford was featured on these maps, along with the coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth I.

One can only guess why he did not marry until 1567, when he was already 52 years old and most likely had no children. His only wife was Elizabeth Bowes, née Harlow, who had been a widow for only five months before her marriage to Sickford. It is known that she was the third wife of Sir Martin Bowes (Martin Bowes 1500-1566), who died in August 1566. Martin Bowes was Lord Mayor of London in 1545, having been a goldsmith by profession and sub-treasurer of the Royal Mint under Henry VIII and Edward VI, and then became goldsmith to Queen Elizabeth I. He was also President and then Comptroller of Christ's Hospital. Elizabeth Bowes died in 1586 and was buried at Clerkenwell. Thomas Sickford died in 1588 and is buried at Woodbridge.