TUOMAIS GRONnu.s. the second son of George Grenville, wee born in 1753, and died in 18'11. lie left his valuable library to the British 3Imenin, of whieh it now forms • separate portion.
GlIESIIAM, SIR THOMAS, was descended of an ancient family of Norfolk. His father, Richard Gresham, • younger eon, was bred to trade, and was a member of the Mercers' Company. In due time Ito became • leading man in the city, was agent to Henry VIII. for negociatiog loans, &e., with foreign merchants, and obtained the honours of knighthood and the mayoralty. He died February 20th 1549. Thomas Gresham, his second son, was born in London in 1519, and studied at Gouville (now commonly called Caine) College, Cam bridge; hut Sir Richard, while giving his son the benefit of is liberal education, intended him to tread in his own steps, and bound him apprentice to his brother, Sir John Gresham, who also belonged to the Mercers' Company, and also had acquired a large fortune by trade. Thomas Gresham took out his freedom in 1543. In 1551 he was employed, as his father had been, in negociating foreign loans by Edward VL ; and he did good service in this capacity. When money became doe it seldom was convenient to pay it; and an extension of the time was commonly purcltasod on terms ruinously high, 10 per cent for instance, clogged with the further condition of purchasing certain jewels or other wares at the price of the vendor. By Gresham 's skill and assiduity the outstanding debts were paid off, and an enormous saving made, the particulars of which, as stated in his own memorial, will be found in W'srd's ' Lives of the Gresham Professors,' p. 8. By his advice the experiment of raising money at home rather than from foreigners was first tried by Elizabeth in 1569, and followed with great advaotago both to the crown and the nation. Ho was employed in the same capacity of agent by Mary and Elizabeth, received knight hood from the latter in 1559, and was often consulted by her in political and commercial affairs. His favour, his office, and his princely munificence, combined probably to procure him the title of the Royal Merchant.. lie built a noble house on the west aide of Bishopsgate Street (where tho Excise-Office latterly stood), where be lived in splendour, and was occasionally commissioned by the queen to receive and entertain foreign visitors of high rank. Increasing in wealth, he
bought estates in many parts of England ; amonz others Osterley, near Brentford, now in possession of the Earl of Jersey, which next to London was his chief place of abode. He died suddenly November 21st 1579, leaving no children except one natural daughter.
In the foundation of the Royal Exchange Sir Thomas Gresham has left a lasting memorial of his wealth and generosity. Previously the merchants were accustomed to meet, without shelter, in Lombard Street. Sir Richard Gresham contemplated the scheme of building an exchange, or covered walk, such as be had seen abroad, but did nut effect it. Resuming the design, Sir Thomas offered to erect a suitable building if the citizens would provide a plot of ground. The site north of Cornhill was accordingly purchased in 1566, far more than 35001. The date of completion is not clearly known ; but January 23rd, 1570, the queen dined at Gresham's house, visited the new building, and caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet the ' Royal Exchange.' This building was destroyed in the great fire of 1666. A view of it may be seen in Ward's 'Lives.' It was similar in its main features to its successor, consisting of a quadrangular arcade surrounding an open court, with galleries above containing shops, &c. From the rents of these Gresham derived a yearly income of 750L, oesides fines. (Ward, ' Appendix,' iv.) One moiety of his interest herein Gresham bequeathed to the cor poration of London, and the other to the Mercers' Company, on condition of their making certain annual payments, amounting to 603L 6s. 8d. After the fire the Exchange was rebuilt on a larger scale ; and it Is a striking instance of the rise of prices, that the additional ground required cost 7017/. Iles. Tho new building coat 58,962/. This, with some alterations, of which the chief was the rebuilding of the clock-tower in 1821, stood till it was again destroyed by fire on January the 20th, 1838. It was again built, as ie well known, from the designs of Mr. Tite, on a still larger and more splendid male, calculated to meet the increased and increasing demands of the metropolitan commerce. The first stone of the present Royal Exchange was laid by Prince Albert on the 27th of January 1842 ; and on the 28th of October 1844 the completed building was opened in 'tete by Queen Victoria.