Token of Robert Smith of the Kings Arms, Chatham

Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By SA2.0
Object type: Token
Period: Post Medieval
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 26/03/2024
Location: Queenhithe, London


On the obverse, the legend reads ROBERT SMITH AT YE OLD, around the Kings Arms. It continues on the reverse, IN CHATHAM 1671 around HIS / HALF / PENNY / R.I.S.

Robert served in the navy and married Mary Phinnes in 1640. The “R.I.S.” on the reverse suggests that he remarried at some point. He died in 1672, one year after this token was issued.1

Chatham was the site of a Royal Navy Dockyard and the local brewers, Best of Chatham, received regular commissions for beer from the Admiralty2. There is a story of a Captain Robert Smith searching “the smiths houses and other suspicious places for embezzled ironwork at Chatham3 and with our Robert Smith being a navy man, this could be him but as it’s a relatively common name, it might well not be.

Unfortunately, the Kings Arms was ravaged by a fire in the 1990s and was eventually demolished in 2002.

The site is currently being redeveloped into a block of luxury apartments.


  1. A Token in Time, by Catharina Clement, November 2012
  2. Best Brewery Chatham
  3. The history of CHATHAM DOCKYARD By James D Crawshaw Chapter 9, 1999