One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small sum paid as an initial instalment on striking a bargain, especially on concluding a purchase or the hiring of a servant. Compare "arles-penny", earnest penny. Now English regional (Yorkshire) and historical.
2A penny or small sum given in charity. Now rare.
Middle English; earliest use found in Ayenbite of Inwyt. From the genitive of god + penny, so called on account of being originally devoted to some religious or charitable purpose.
God's penny/ˌɡɒdz ˈpɛni/
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