The first sixpences were minted in 1551, during the reign of Edward VI. They came about due to the debasement of silver coinage in the 1540s. In particular the silver testoon, which fell in value from 12d to 6d.
Sixpences were minted during the reign of every British monarch after Edward VI, with the exception of Queen Mary, as well as during the Commonwealth. There has been a vast number of variations and alterations over the years.
The sixpence remained popular until it was taken out of circulation with the introduction of decimalisation.