Sir Thomas Gresham Founder Royal Exchange 1519 1557 English merchant goodlier frame financier King Edward VI Profile portrait tr

- Image ID: B7PTDY
19th era / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: B7PTDY
Sir Thomas Gresham (c. 1519 – 21 November 1579) was an English merchant and financier who worked for King Edward VI of England and for Edward's half-sister Queen Elizabeth I of England. In 1565 Gresham made a proposal to the court of aldermen of London to build at his own expense a bourse or exchange — what became the Royal Exchange, modelled on the Antwerp bourse — on condition that they purchased for this purpose a piece of suitable ground. In this proposal he seems to have had an eye to his own interest as well as to the general good of the merchants, for by a yearly rental of 700 obtained for the shops in the upper part of the building he received a sufficient return for his trouble and expense. The foundation of the Royal Exchange is the background of Thomas Heywood's play: If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody part 2, in which a Lord extols the quality of the building when asked if he has ever seen "a goodlier frame": "Not in my life; yet I have been in Venice, In the Rialto there, called Saint Mark's; 'Tis but a bauble, if compared to this. The nearest, that which most resembles this, Is the great Burse in Antwerp, yet no comparable Either in height or wildeness, the fair cellarage, Or goodly shops above. Oh my Lord Mayor, This Gresham hath much graced your city, London; His fame will long outlive him.

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