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Richard Whittington, Mayor

Male 1358 - 1423  (~ 73 years)


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  • Name Richard Whittington  [1
    Suffix Mayor 
    Born Between 1350 and 1358  Hazlebadge Hall, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Mar 1423  Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I157580  My Genealogy

    Father *William III Whittington, Sir Knight, III,   b. Abt 1310, Pauntley, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Between 1358 and 1359, Pauntley, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 48 years) 
    Mother Joan Mansel,   b. Abt 1330, Mansel Castle, Oxwick, Gower, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Pauntley, Gloucestershire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married Between 1345 and 1350  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F4314  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Alice Fitzwarren,   b. Abt 1360, Dorset, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1422, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 61 years) 
    Married Between 1370 and 1378  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Last Modified 24 Jan 2013 
    Family ID F64258  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "The Domesday Book Online - Derbyshire F-R
      ...Famous for its old fair with sheepdog trials. Joseph Hague (DickWhittington) was born here. Hazlebadge Hegelebec: William Peverel.Hazlebadge Hall (1549), the earliest example of the vernacular styleof manor houses in the Peak...
      Hazlebadge Hall (1549), the earliest example of the vernacular styleof manor houses in the Peak District.http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/derbyshire2.html"

      NOTE: In this time period and earlier, the eldest son usuallyinherited the family fortune and estates. The other sons in thefamily were usually given good educations so that they might be ableto make their own way in life if they chose to do so. Most wereallowed to live on the family estates, however did not have any meansof their own. Richard chose to try and make his own way in the world. As far as we can tell, he did a good job of it.

      Although this is uncertain, there was "a Richard Whittington, commonlycalled Dick Whittington (1358?-1423), English merchant and Lord Mayorof London. Born probably in Gloucestershire, he was the son of aknight. Whittington eventually became a mercer in London, and in1393, an alderman. In 1397, 1398, and again in 1406 and 1419, he waselected Lord Mayor of London. He advanced large sums of money to theEnglish kings Henry IV and Henry V. At his death he left the bulk ofhis property to charity, including funds for the rebuilding of NewgatePrison and for the establishment of Whittington College, which existedfor 100 years before its suppression in 1548. According to legend,Whittington went to London while he was still a young boy and foundemployment as a scullion. To the freight of an outgoing vessel hecontributed his cat, which sold for a large sum in rat-infestedBarbary. Meanwhile, growing weary of abusive treatment, Whittingtonstarted to leave the city, but hearing the bells of Saint Mary-le-BowChurch, which seemed to say, "Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor ofLondon," he went back to work, received the proceeds from the sale ofhis cat, married, and living happily, rose to the prophesied post.Similar stories are in the folklore of several countries."Infopedia--Copyright @ 1966 by SoftKey Multimedia Inc., a subsidiaryof SoftKey International Inc. Funk and Wagnalls NewEncyclopedia--Copyright @ 1996 by Funk and Wagnalls, Corp. All rightsreserved.

      WHO WAS THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH?
      Richard Whittington lived from about 1350-1423. He achieved manythings in his life. Now he is known for having a pet cat and 'turningagain'. How did Whittington become so famous? Life history Richard or'Dick' Whittington was born during the 1350s. He was the younger sonof Sir William Whittington, Lord of the Manor of Pauntley inGloucestershire. Sir William died in 1358. The oldest son inheritedthe estate, so Richard travelled to London to find work.
      Whittington served an apprenticeship, and eventually became a?mercer', dealing in valuable cloth from abroad, such as silks,velvets and cloth of gold. The main market for selling these clothswas the Royal Court. Whittington supplied large quantities to KingRichard II (who owed Whittington ú1000 when he was deposed in 1399)and to King Henry IV.
      Whittington became rich. After 1397 he often lent large sums of moneyto the Crown. In return
      he was allowed to export wool without paying customs duty on it.
      He became a City alderman, or magistrate, in 1393. In 1397 the Mayor,Adam Bamme, died in office and the King chose Whittington to becomethe new mayor. He was re-elected the following year, and again for1406-7 and 1419-20. This made him Mayor of London four times.
      Whittington died in March 1423. His wife Alice, daughter of Sir IvoFitzwaryn (or Fitzwarren) of Dorset, had died before him. They had nochildren.
      Whittington's will In his will Whittington asked that his great wealthbe used to the benefit of the city. The money was used to establish analmshouse (residences for poor people), a college of priests and alibrary, and to carry out a number of other public works. Theseincluded improvements to the water supply and building a publiclavatory, which became known as ?Whittington's longhouse'.Disadvantaged Londoners still benefit from Whittington's will throughthe Whittington Charity.
      Medieval mercers and mayors As a mercer Whittington would havebelonged to the Mercers' Company, which was the leading liverycompany. The various livery companies controlled their respectivetrades and received rights from the King. The trade of a mercer doesnot exist today, and the Company is now devoted to charitable works.
      In Whittington's time Westminster and the City of London had separategovernments. The Mayor of London was the head of Government for theCity of London, and was based at the Guildhall. The Guildhall is stillthe seat of the Corporation of London now. The Mayor was not called?Lord Mayor' as he is today until much later.
      The Dick Whittington myth The gifts left in Whittington's willoriginally made him famous. However, Londoners did not know how hefirst made his money. Stories began about how a poor boy became richwith the help of his cat. There is no evidence that Whittington kept acat, and as the son of a Lord he was never very poor. Despite beinguntrue the stories flourished. A play produced in 1606 tells most ofthe story. There are many different versions, but essentially the talewas:
      Dick Whittington was a poor boy from Gloucestershire who walked toLondon to seek his fortune. He found work in the house of a richmerchant Fitzwarren, and fell in love with Fitzwarren's daughter,Alice. Dick had a cat to keep down the mice in the attic where heslept. Fitzwarren invited his servants to put money into a sailingvoyage. Dick had no money, but gave his cat to the captain to sell.
      Dick decided there was no future for him in London, and left to gohome to Gloucestershire. He stopped on top of Highgate Hill on the wayout of London. There he heard the bells of London ringing - theyseemed to say: ?Turn again, Whittington, three times Lord Mayor ofLondon'.
      Dick thought this was a good omen and returned to Fitzwarren's house.He learnt that the ship had returned with great news. The sailingparty arrived in a foreign land where the king's court was overrun byrats. Dick's cat killed or drove out all the rats. In thanks the kingpaid a huge sum of gold to buy the cat. Dick was now a very wealthyman. He married Alice Fitzwarren, and eventually became Lord Mayor ofLondon.
      The story continued to grow in the 17th and 18th centuries andappeared in many children's books. In the 19th century, the storybecame the subject for pantomimes and other characters were added. Thestory is still told today in pantomimes and new versions of the storyare still published. Even now, Dick Whittington and the cat that madehis fortune are familiar to people who have never heard of the ?real'Richard Whittington.
      For more information... Visit the London Museum to see... The MedievalLondon gallery contains displays illustrating London and life in thecity during the time of Dick Whittington. These cover topics such asthe church, homes and houses, public buildings and sculpture,transport and travel, trade and industry, the River Thames andChaucer's London. There are also special displays that relate to theMayor and administration of the City of London, such as the CityCommon chest for keeping safe the Common Seal and other documents andvaluables.
      Find these books in your local library... Crisp, P., The Middle Ages(Two-Can Publishing, 1997) Dawson, I., Food and Feasts in the MiddleAges (Zoe Books Ltd, 1994) Hosking, T., Life in Medieval Britain(Wayland, 1994) Macdonald, F., The Medieval Facts of Life (SalaryariaBook Company, 1997) Smith, N., Life in Medieval Britain (Wayland,1996)
      Visit these websites... History of Mayors and Lord Mayors of LondonFamous Gloucester people: Dick Whittington
      Source: Angela Voon Interpretation Unit, Museum of London August 2002
      Internet Web Site Source:http://users.moscow.com/dnorman/UncleDick.htm

      RICHARD WHITTINGTON (d. March 1423 - London, England)
      English merchant and Lord Mayor of London who has become famous inlegend and as a traditional pantomime hero. The son of a knight ofGloucestershire, Whittington opened a mercer?s shop in London,supplying velvets and damasks to such notables as Henry of Bolingbroke(later King Henry IV).
      He then entered city politics and served three terms as Lord Mayor ofLondon: 1397 - 1399, 1406 - 1407, and 1419 - 1420. By 1400 he hadacquired immense wealth and commercial prestige. He made large loansto Kings Henry IV (ruled 1399 - 1413)
      and Henry V (ruled 1413 - 1422) and bequeathed his vast fortune tocharitable and
      public purposes.
      Popular legend makes Dick Whittington a poor orphan employed as ascullion by a rich London merchant. He ventures his only possession, acat, as an item to be sold on one of his master?s trading ships. Illtreated by the cook, Dick then runs away, but just outside the city hehears the prophetic peal of bells that seems to say, ?Turn again,Whittington, Lord Mayor of great London. ?He returns to find that hiscat has been sold for a great fortune to a Moorish ruler whosedominions are plagued with rats.
      Whittington marries his master?s daughter, succeeds to the business,and subsequently becomes thrice Lord Mayor of London.
      The first recorded reference to the tale appears in 1605.
      Internet Web Site Source: http://users.moscow.com/dnorman/richard.htm
      There is a supposed portrait of Whittington and his cat, engraving byRenold (Renier Elstracke, early 17th century).
      Information taken from Encyclopedia Britannica.

      Internet Web Site Source:http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/MOLsite/learning/features_facts/viking_1.html

  • Sources 
    1. [S2857] Richard Whittington.