Farthing token of the Ship Carpenters’ Arms, Rotherhithe

Photo: Surrey County Council CC By SA2.0
Denomination: Farthing
Period: Post-Medieval
Date found: 23/05/2022
Location: Rotherhithe, London


A farting token dated to about 1650 – 1674. The obverse reads SHIP CARPENTERS AR and the reverse AT R(EDRIF)F WALE. It is a Find of Note of County Importance.

Rotherhithe and Redriff

Rotherhithe comprises the peninsula half encircled by the Thames between Bermondsey in Surrey and Deptford in Kent.

London in 1741-45 by John Rocque

Rotherhithe and Redriff have been used interchangeably for the region on the south bank of the Thames in the East of London .As shown on this map of London from 1745 the place name is given as “Rotherhithe or Redriff”. This would continue with maps made in the 19th century.

There are the usual various spellings of both names but they come from two different sources. Redriff comes from a “red reef” of sandstone beside the Thames. The “hithe” part of Rotherhithe is found in several place names and means “a small port”. “Rother” could mean cattle.

A little side note is that Rotherhithe was the home town of Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels published in 1726. In some early editions Gulliver’s home is given as Redriff before he begins his travels and Rotherhithe when he returns.

Docks at Rotherhithe

The docks existed from the start of the 16th century and in 1612 a charter was granted to shipwrights, caulkers, ship carpenters and those who exercised any trade in the making of ships. in 1670 – 1690, just after this token was issued, Rotherhithe was described as “a hamlet where there is and long hath been a dock and arsenal where ships are laid up, built and repaired“.

Pubs of Rotherhithe

The Rotherhithe 1825 Petty Sessions records some 70 pubs many with names connected with the docks and shipbuilding. There are four called Ship, a Ship and Whale, a Jolly Caulker and a Jolly Sailor.