Thomas Gresham

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Thomas Gresham, 1544
Thomas Gresham, Portrait of Anthonis Mor (ca.1554)

Sir Thomas Gresham (* 1519 in London ; † November 21, 1579 ibid) was co-owner of the largest English trading house of his era and since 1551 financial agent of the English government and royal advisor.


He was the son of wealthy businessman born Sir Richard Gresham, who already on significant public office, such as the board of the Worshipful Company of Mercers (Society of cloth merchant) and the governor of the London title Guild of Merchant Adventurers disposal. Richard Gresham, who came from Norfolk , had been ennobled by Henry VIII for his services . After studying at the University of Cambridge and his father's death in 1548, Thomas became the co-owner of the dominant trading house of the Elizabethan era .

Because of this experience, the British government chose him as its financial agent. In this function he primarily negotiated bonds in Amsterdam and Antwerp with major German investors from Augsburg ( Fugger and Schetz) and Nuremberg ( Lazarus Tucher ) . As this loan were paid on time payments, contrary to expectations, its financial policy strengthened the international creditworthiness of England . As early as 1559 he was knighted as a Knight Bachelor ("Sir").

Therefore, Gresham rose to advisor to King Edward VI. and finally the Queen Elizabeth I on. But it was not just his trading skills that made him indispensable at court. His personal charm, friendship with the royal advisor William Cecil and his talent in bringing personal gifts to the monarchs and their surroundings also consolidated his position.

Gresham founded the Royal Exchange in 1565 , which began trading six years later.

He formulated Gresham's law , so named only 300 years after him , which determined that good money was displaced by bad money in the presence of differently valued coinage metals with a legally determined exchange ratio.

Gresham also appeared as a patron of the arts and sciences and as a promoter of social institutions. As a 45-year-old, he ordered the establishment of the college named after him in his will .

Aging prematurely due to the grueling negotiations and the early loss of his only son, he withdrew from government business in 1574 after one leg was paralyzed.


Web links

Commons : Thomas Gresham  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Arthur Shaw: The Knights of England. Volume 2, Sherratt and Hughes, London 1906, p. 70.