GRESHAM, Sir THOMAS, founder of the London royal exchange, descended from an ancient Norfolk family, was the second son of sir Richard Gresham, an opulent mer chant, elected in 1537 lord mayor of London. Born in 1519, he was first apprenticed to his uncle, sir John Gresham, a wealthy London mercer, and then sent to study at Gonville hall, now Caius college, Cambridge. In 1543 he was admitted a member of the Mercers' company. His father, who died in Feb., 1548, had been one of henry VIII.'s domestic financial agents; and in 1552 Gresham was sent to Antwerp, as king's factor there, in consequence of the mismanagement of the person previously in charge. In two years he paid off a heavy loan, entirely restored the king's credit, and intro duced a new system of finance. The principal duty of the royal agent was the nego tiation of foreign loans; and during the long period he held-the office, he was successfully employed in many most important and difficult money transactions. As be was a Protestant, queen Mary, on her accession, sent him his dismissal; but on presenting a memorial of his past services, he was soon reinstated. By queen Elizabeth, he was, in 1559, knighted, and appointed, for a short time, English ambassador at the court of the king of Spain's regent at Brussels. The troubles in the Netherlands compelled him, in 1568, to withdraw finally from Antwerp, to which city he had made more than forty journeys on the service of the state, in one of which, in 1560, he was thrown from his horse, and rendered lame for life. In 1569 by his advice, the plan of borrowing money from the London merchants, instead of from foreigners, was adopted, to the great advan tage of the mercantile body. Having, in 1564, lost his only son, Richard, he resolved
upon devoting a portion of his great wealth to the erection of a bourse or exchange, in imitation of the one at Antwerp, for the London merchants, who were wont to meet in the open air—a project which had originated with his father. It was formally opened, in 1570, by queen Elizabeth in person, on which occasion she dined with the founder, and named it the royal exchange. Renowned for his hospitality and liberality, he fre quently entertained foreign personages of distinction, and erected a magnificent mansion at Osterly park, near Brentford. where he was visited by queen Elizabeth. For the endowment of a college in London, he directed by his will that his town-mansion in Bishopsgate street should be converted into a residence and leeture-rooms for seven professors, to be salaried out of the royal exchange revenues. Gresham college was taken down in 1768, and the ground on which it stood—now occupied by the excise office—was transferred to Foyer') men t. The lectures are now delivered in a lecture-hall built at the corner of Basmghall and Gresham streets, out of the accumulated fund. The subjects of lecture are divinity, physic, astronomy, geometry, law, rhetoric, and music. Gresham also provided for the erection and support of eight almshouses, and made many other charitable bequests. He died suddenly, Nov. 21, 1579.