New Hampshire Glossary: Pistereens and Johannes

In the colonial days of Bedford New Hampshire, a man by the name of Matthew Patten kept a diary of every day goings-on, between the years of 1744 and 1788.  After his death, this diary remained in the possession of his daughters, Sarah and Polly Patten, who then gave it to Dr. Peter P. Woodbury about the year 1850. Eventually the diary was published by the town.

In this “Day Book,” Matthew mentions items that we are not familiar with today…

29th rec'd 2 Dollars and a pistereen from Henry Ferguson being the tax on his land in Bedford for both years the Quantity being 65-1/2 acres

Feb 5th, Lydia Murdough brot us 10 L of Butter and I pd her for it & 27 L she brot us on the first of January amounting at 1/2 a pistereen pr L to 8-6-6 Mass money and I bot a pudding pann from her at 1/2 a pistereen and Discounted 6s/old Tenor with her

June 11 and john paid me a pistereen

20th I sent a pistereen to Matthew Littles by jonas and got two pound of Shugar….

May 2d went to Col Goffes and Settled the affair of Alexr Parker of Litchfield and John Moor of L;Derry and recd a johanna from sd Moor pd him 10-5-0 O:T

June 2nd, got 4 bushel of Corn from James Underwood and gave him a johanna

18th, got 4 bushel of Indian Corn from Willm Paterson and Left a johanna with his wife and had it ground at Capt. Chamberlin

The context of these references make it obvious that Mathew is referring to money.  And indeed a pistereen (or pistareen) is a silver coin, minted in Spain, while a johannes or johanna is a portugese or English gold coin. Sometimes the name johannes was shortened to Joe or Jo.


The photograph above is of a johannes coin.

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