About the object

A silver sixpence

This tiny coin, worn almost smooth, is engraved with the name ‘Wm Fromont’. ‘William’ has been shortened to ‘Wm’ to fit the limited space. Despite the wear to the coin, there are enough clues – such as the harp on one side and the remnants of a royal bust on the other – to identify the coin as a sixpence from the reign of William III (1689–1702).

An attempted claim

This token was left with a child called William Fromont, from Burnham-on-Sea in Essex. He was admitted on 5 April 1757 and renamed Grey Lambert by the Hospital. Sadly he died a few days later. In 1772, Thomas Babbington, Master of the Workhouse at Clerkenwell, approached the Hospital to claim the boy, saying that he was a family friend. The Governors searched for William’s record and a token matching Babbington’s description, but they couldn’t be found. The tokens were wrapped in admissions papers and stored in date order, and Babbington had given the wrong date for the boy’s admission. This meant the Hospital couldn’t locate his records. They may also have been suspicious about Babbington’s claimed connection with the child’s family.