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Lord Mayor of London, and to live younger son, he followed the com-
in the City's history as one of its mon practice of younger sons in
greatest benefactors. But that talo times when there were few other
is too full of anachronisms and im- professions to choose from, and be-
probabilities for any part of it, not came a merchant. Of his early life
confirmed by authentic records, to nothing is recorded. We first hear
be believed in; and the authentic of him in the year 1393, when he
records are so few that we can get must have been nearly forty; but
but. & slight knowledge of Whit- as he was then a member of the
tington's real history.

Mercers' Company, and alderman
That a cat had something to do and sheriff of the City of London,
with the making of his fortune is we have good ground for assuming
not easily to be denied. The legend that he had been a prosperous
is traced back to within a genera- merchant during many previous
tion of his lifetime, and to authori- years. Perhaps, as the story-books
ties that could hardly have been assert, he ran away to London, and
either ignorant or untruthful. It then became rich through the acci-
is probable, moreover, that he owed dental value of his cat; but in that
something to the influence and as- case the wealth thus derived can
sistance of Fitzwarren, whose daugh- only have been a trifling sum, to be
ter he did really marry. But that used well and greatly augmented
he began life as a beggar-boy and by his own industry. It is more
scullion is certainly a fable. He probable, however-and we do him
was the youngest son of Sir William the greater honour in making this
Whittington, a descendant of an assumption — that he rose solely
ancient Warwickshire family, and through his own talent and appli-
proprietor of the manors of Paunt- cation. He must have had somo
ley, in Gloucestershiro, and Solers slight patrimony of his own, and
Hope, in Hereford, who died in 1360. much more must have come to him
The family possessions passed to by his marriage_with Alice, the
William, the firstborn, and, on his daughter of Sir Hugh Fitzwarren
early death, to Robert, the second of Torrington, owner of much pro-
son, High Sheriff of Gloucester in perty in Devonshire, Gloucester-
1402, and again in 1407, and an- shire, and other counties. We have
cestor of the Whittingtons of Hams- no solid ground for supposing that
well, existing to this day. This Fitzwarren himself ever meddled
Robert must have been a wealthy with trade, but his influence would
man. On one occasion he was be of use to young Whittington at
riding with his son Guy in the his beginning of commercial life.
neighbourhood of Hereford, when That the beginning was compara-
about thirty followers of one Richard tively humble may be inferred from
Oldcastle, who had doubtless been the fact that the lad took to mer-
aggrieved at some of the High cery instead of engaging in the
Sheriff's proceeedings, waylaid and wholesale wool or wine trades that
took them prisoners, only to be re- were followed in the different ports
leased on their entering into a bond by such men as the De la Poles of
to pay 6ool. by way of ransom, and Hull. • The mercers, as a metro-
to take no procedings against Old- politan guild,' we are told,' may be
castle for his lawless conduct. In traced back to A.D. 1172; but it was
1416, however, Robert Whittington not until the fifteenth century that
obtained authority from Parliament they took their station among the
to consider this forced engagement as merchants, and from being mere
null and void; and it is likely that retailers became the first City com-
he got back his money and procured pany. Towards the close of the
the punishment of his enemy. fourteenth century the mercers mo-

Richard Whittington seems to nopolized the silk trade, woollen have been only a few years old at stuffs having, prior to that period, the time of his father's death; and constituted their staple business, he was not yet a man in 1373, and up to which time they had only when he lost his mother. Being a partially been incorporated.' Whit

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tington, in his younger days, had to an alderman living at the house in stand at the door of Westminster Mark Lane, which we have pictured Hall, or in Cheapside, or Cornhill, from fa sketch taken before it was offering coats, caps, and other arti- pulled down. On the 21st of Sepcles of haberdashery, &c., to passers

tember in this year, moreover, he by, just as, a generation later, old was elected sheriff; and in 1397 & Dan Lidgate's hero, London Lack- writ was issued in the name of penny, found the tradesmen doing Richard II. appointing him to act when he came to try his luck in as mayor and escheator in the place London. He went first to West- of Adam Baune, who had gone the minster, but there, instead of get- way of all flesh. In the following ting any help, he was pushed about year he was elected mayor-the title and robbed of his hood.

Lord Mayor seems not to have been

introduced till a later period-in Within this hall neither rich nor yet poor Would do for me aught, although I should die;

his own right; and he held the Which ruing, I gat me out of the door,

office again in 1406, and again in Where Flemings began on me for to cry, 1419, on which last occasion the “ Master, what will ye copen or buy?

Mercers' Company attended the Fine felt hats? or spectacles to read?

cavalcade with eight new banners, Lay down your silver, and here you may speed."

eight trumpeters, four pipers, and * Then into London I did me hie,-

seven nakerers,' nakers being wind Of all the land it beareth the prize. "Hot peascods !" one began to cry;

instruments of some sort now for"Strawberry ripe, and cherries in the rise !" gotten, that in the battle,' accordOne bade me come near and buy some spice.

ing to Chaucer, blowen bloody Pepper and saffron they gan me bede,

sounds.' But for lack of money I might not speed.

The mercers of London had good • Then to the Cheap I gan me drawen,

reason to be proud of their repreWhere there much people I saw for to stand. sentative. Just at this time, as we One offered me velvet, silk, and lawn;

have seen, their calling was gaining Another he taketh me by the hand,

much fresh dignity; and it cannot “Here is Paris thread, the finest in the land !"

be doubted that Whittington's zeal I never was used to such things indeed; And wanting money, I might not speed.

and influence greatly conduced to

this. • Then went I forth by London Stone,

In 1400 we find his name And throughout all Candlewick Street;

among the list of great merchants Drapers much cloth me offered anon.

and others excused from attendance Then comes me one crying, “ Hot sheep's feet!' upon Henry IV. in his Scottish One cried “Mackerel !" -" Oyster green!" wars; and henceforth he seems another gan me greet.

to have been a special favourite One bade me buy a hood to cover my head;

with the king. In 1402 he received But for want of money I might not be sped.

215l. 138. 4d. for ten cloths of gold • Then into Combill anon I rode,

and other merchandize provided for Where there was much stolen gear among. I saw where hung mine ownö hood,

the marriage of Blanche, Henry's That I had lost among the throng.

eldest daughter, with the King of To buy my own hood I thought it wrong.

the Romans; and in 1406 he furI knew it as well as I did my creed,

nished pearls and cloth of gold But for lack of money I could not speed. worth 2481. 1os. 6d., to be used at • Then hied I me to Billingsgate;

the wedding of the king's other And one cried, “ Ho! now go we hence;" daughter, Philippa. In the same I prayed a bargeman, for God's sake,

year he lent 1,000l. to King Henry That he would spare me my expense.

on the security of the subsidies on " Thou goest not here," quoth he, “under

wool, hides, and woolfels, a transtwo pence;

action exactly similar to the many I list not yet bestow any alms' deed." Thus lacking money I could not speed.'

in which we saw Sir William de la

Pole engaged two generations carIn that busy, money-making little lier. Two other London merchants, world of London Whittington grew John Norbury and John Hende, rich and influential. By 1393 he

appear at this time to have been was a master mercer, with five ap- richer even than Whittington, as on prentices under him, and in the this occasion they each lent 2,000l. same year, if not before, he was to the king. Hende was Mayor of In 1413


London in 1391, and again in 1404, a prudent, wise, and devout man,' and his name is several times met he is reported to have said not long with in conjunction with Whitting before his death, “shall be to cast ton's. The king's debts were paid before and make sure the state and in 1410, and in 1411 we find that the end of this short life with Whittington was employed to pay deeds of mercy and pity, and spe100 marks for expenses incurred on cially to provide for those miserable account of the coming of French persons whom the penury of poverty ambassadors to Dover, and their insulteth, and to whom the power conveyance thence to the king's of seeking the necessaries of life by presence at Gloucester.

art or bodily labour is interdicted.' he lent another sum of 1,000l. to And this was certainly the rule of Henry IV., the money being re- his own life. In the year 1400 he turned in a fortnight; and it is obtained leave to rebuild the Church certain that he often rendered simi- of St. Michael Paternoster, and found lar service both to this monarch there a college, 'consisting of four and to his son. For maintaining fellows, clerks, conducts, and chothe siege of Harfleur in 1415 he lent risters, who were governed by a 700!. to Henry V., to be repaid out master, on whom he bestowed the of the customs on wool collected in rights and profits of the church, in London, Boston, and Hull; and addition to his salary of ten marks. another loan of 2,000 marks made To the chaplains he gave eleven in 1416 was discharged two years marks each, to the first clerk eight, later. There is a tradition, hardly to the second clerk seven and a to be credited, that Whittington in- half, and to the choristers five curred much greater obligations on marks a year each. Besides this he Henry's account, and volunteered built the chapel annexed to Guildan acquittance in the most chival- hall, made contributions to the rous way possible. During his last adornment of Gloucester Cathedral, mayoralty, in 1419, we are told, he and endowed many other churches. invited the king and queen to a Four hundred years before John sumptuous entertainment at Guild- Howard appeared as the prisoner's hall,

on the occasion of his receiving friend Whittington began to rebuild knighthood; and among the rari- Newgate Prison, hitherto a most ties prepared to give splendour to ugly and loathsome prison, so conthe festival was a marvellous fire of tagious of air that it caused the precious and sweet-smelling woods, death of many men;' and, dying mixed with cinnamon and other before the work was done, he left costly spices. While the king was money that it might be duly compraising the novelty, Whittington pleted. St. Bartholomew's Hospital, went to a closet and drew thence in Smithfield, was also repaired by bonds to the extent of 60,000l., his instructions; and Whittington's which during the French wars had Almshouses, near Highgate, are to been issued by the sovereign, and this day standing monuments of the which he had diligently bought up generosity of this worthy and from the various merchants and notable merchant, the which, acmoney-lenders to whom they had cording to the testimony of his exbeen given; and this whole bundle ecutors, 'while he lived, had right he threw into the flames as the liberal and large hands to the most expensive fuel of all. 'Never needy and poor people.'. In other had prince such a subject! Henry ways he cared for the neediest among exclaimed, as soon as he understood his fellow-men. 'One of the last the generosity of the act. “And acts of his life,' says a manuscript never had subject such a prince!' authority, indicating his honesty answered Whittington.

and public spirit, was his active That story may or may not be true. prosecution of the London brewers But of other, wiser and more honour- for forestalling meat and selling able acts of liberality done by Whit- dear ale; for which interference tington we have ample proof. The with their proceedings the brewers fervent desire and busy intention of were very wroth. And as a small

but significant illustration of his church thinking some great riches, large-hearted charity, Stow tells us as he said, to be buried with him, that there was a water conduit east caused his monument to be broken, of the Church of St. Giles, Cripple- his body to be spoilt of its Icaden gate, which came from Highbury, sheet, and again the second time to and that Whittington, the mayor, be buried; and in the reign of caused a bosse (or tap] of water to Queen Mary the parishioners were be made in the church-wall,'—the forced to take him up and lap him forerunner, by nearly half a mille- in lead as before, to bury him the nium, of the drinking-fountains now third time, and to place his monuso common among us.

ment, or the like, over him again? Notable evidence of Whittington's But both church and tombstone ability in a province not much were destroyed by the Great Fire heeded by the majority of mer- of 1666; and now his only monuchants, appears in the fact that ment is to be found in the records of Henry V., in 1413, a few months the city which he so greatly helped after his accession, appointed him by his noble charities, and, as far as chief supervisor of the rebuilding we can judge, by his perfect showing of the nave in Westminster Abbey. of the way in which a merchant Two years later, moreover, in order- prince should live. ing certain alterations in the City of London, the king thought it well to direct that the mayor should do

CHAPTER IV. nothing either in building up or in

THE CANNINGS OF BRISTOL. pulling down without the advice of Whittington. But the merchant From very early times Bristol was did more for the City than even one of the foremost marts of English King Henry could have expected. commerce. In the twelfth century, In his will he provided for the according to William of Malmes paving and glazing of Guildhall, bury, 'its haven was a receptacle luxuries at that time almost con- for ships coming from Ireland, Norfined to palaces; and during the way, and other foreign lands, lest a last years of his life he was busy region so blest with native riches about the foundation of the library should be deprived of the benefits of the Grey-friars monastery in of foreign merchandize ;' and in Newgate Street. This noble build- later generations there was no diing,' according to Stow, 'was 129 minution of the old seafaring feet long, 31 feet in breadth, entirely zeal. Considering the many and ceiled with wainscot, with 28 wain- notable services,' runs scot desks, and 8 double settees. granted by Henry IV. soon after the The cost of furnishing it with books year 1400,' which very many merwas 5561. 1os., of which 400l. was chants, burgesses of our town of subscribed by Whittington. Still Bristol, have done for us and our more important than this was the famous progenitors in many ways Guildhall Library, built by Whit- with their ships and voyages, at tington's directions, for the pre- their own great charges and exservation of the civic records. The pense, and also since many of the most important of these, the ‘Liber said burgesses and merchants have Albus,' printed for the first time a been grievously vexed and disturbed few years ago under the editorship by the lieutenants and ministers of of Mr. Riley, is thought to have our Admiralty of England, to their been compiled, at Whittington's own great loss and burthen, we theresuggestion, by his chief executor, fore of our own special grace have John Carpenter.

granted for us and our heirs to the Whittington died in 1423. His mayor and commonalty and their body was three times buried in his heirs, that the said town shall be own church of St. Michael Pater- for ever free from the jurisdiction noster-first by his executors under of the said Admiralty.' a fair monument; then in the reign But for a long time Bristol comof Edward VI., the parson of the merce ran in the old groove, with

a charter


ont receiving much influence from Flanders, was seized by some jeathe cloth trade introduced in the lous seamen of the North in 1379, twelfth century from Flanders. and detained at Hartlepool until the Hull, Boston, and other towns on culprits had been brought to justice the eastern coast of England, with and restitution obtained. Ho also Winchester, Totnes, and others in went the round of civic honours, the south, had been growing rich being bailiff in 1380, sheriff in 1382, through some generations by means member of Parliament in 1384, and of commerce in wool and cloth be

mayor in 1392 and 1398. He died fore Thomas Blanket, a merchant of in 1405, leaving a third of his goods Bristol, and some of his friends were to his wife, a third to his children, in 1340 fined by the civic authori- and a third to the poor. His eldest ties for having caused various ma- son Thomas settled in London as a chines for weaving and making grocer, and prospered well enough woollen cloths to be set up in to become in due time master of his their own houses, and having hired company and Lord Mayor of Lonweavers and other workmen for this don; but in fame and wealth he purpose.' The fine was remitted, was far outdone by his more famous however, by Edward III., and the brother. Bristol people, seeing the value of This brother, known as William the innovation, soon learnt to honour Canning the younger, to distinguish its introducers. In 1342 Blanket him from his grandfather, was born was made bailiff of Bristol, and in in 1399 or 1400. Of him, as of the 1356 he, with some of his fellow- other members of his family, very merchants, was summoned to West- little indeed is recorded. That he minster to advise with the king on was the greatest of Bristol's old mermatters of importance in the inter- chant princes, however, is abunests of trade. From this time cloth dantly shown. He

about played an important part in the twenty-five when, as we are told commerce of Bristol. It provided a in the contemporary ‘Libel of Engprincipal occupation both for the

lish Policy,' the men of Bristol first, home manufacturers and for the by rudder and stone,' went to Icetraders with foreign countries until land, the discovery of America opened up

• As men were wont of old new and yet more abundant sources

Of Scarborough, unto the coastës cold;' of wealth.

The greatest name in Bristol his- and it is pretty certain that he tory prior to the beginning of that himself was one of the earliest and American traffic is first met with in most energetic of the men who the lifetime of Blanket, the cloth- transferred the fish trade to Bristol. weaver and cloth-dealer. William Bristol was not long allowed withCanning, or Canynges, the elder, out hindrance to enjoy this source was a man of mark and a famous of wealth. The shortsighted policy merchant during the second half of of the Danish Government, subthe fourteenth century; but nearly mitted to by the weak and misall we know of him is summed up chievous counsellors of Henry VI., in a string of dates. In 1361, and led to a treaty by which the meragain in 1369, he was elected to the chants of London, Norfolk, Suffolk, office of bailiff of Bristol; he was

Lincoln, York, Hull, Newcastle, and six times mayor-in 1372, 1373,

Bristol, were forbidden to trade to 1375, 1381, 1385, and 1389; and Iceland, Finmark, and other districts thrice-in 1364, in 1383, and in subject to the King of Denmark; and 1384—he represented the city in in 1450 the treaty was confirmed. Parliament. He died in 1396, To the rule, however, there was leaving a large amount of money to made in the latter year one notable be divided between his children, exception. The Danish monarch and much more to be distributed in allowed William Canning, ‘in concharity. His son John was also a sideration of the great debt due to merchant of repute. A ship belong the said merchant from his subjects ing to him, trading to Calais and of Iceland and Finmark, to lade

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