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Richard Gresham

Sir Richard Gresham
Born c.1485
Holt, Norfolk
Died 21 February 1549 (aged 63–64)
Bethnal Green
Spouse(s) Audrey Lynne
Children John Gresham
Sir Thomas Gresham
Christian Gresham
Elizabeth Gresham
Parents John Gresham, Alice Blythe

Sir Richard Gresham (c.1485 – 21 February 1549) was an English mercer, Merchant Adventurer, Lord Mayor of London, and Member of Parliament. He was the father of Sir Thomas Gresham.


The Gresham family had been settled in the Norfolk village of Gresham since at least the late 14th Century. Richard Gresham's grandfather, James Gresham, moved to Holt, Norfolk, about three miles from Gresham, where in the mid-fifteenth century he built a manor house in the centre of the village.[1]

Richard Gresham, born about 1485 at Holt, was likely the third of four surviving sons of James Gresham's son, John Gresham, by Alice Blythe of Long Stratton, Norfolk.[1]

Richard Gresham had three brothers, William Gresham, Thomas Gresham, and Sir John Gresham (c.1495–1556).[1]


Gresham was admitted a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Mercers in 1507.[2] As a mercer, he was in partnership with his brother, John Gresham, in exporting textiles and importing grain from the continent. He supplied King Henry VIII with arras, velvets, and satins. Most of his trade was with the Low Countries, which were the most significant area for English overseas trade for most of the sixteenth century, and he amassed a large fortune. He became Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1531[3] and was knighted the same year. On 19 May 1536, he was present at the execution of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London. He was elected as Lord Mayor of London in 1537,[3] and on his death bed Cardinal Wolsey called him his "fast-friend". Gresham paid for the Cardinal's funeral.

He was elected as member of parliament for the City of London in 1539 and 1545.

Gresham supplied tapestry to Cardinal Wolsey at Hampton Court. In October 1520 he measured 18 rooms and went to the mart in Flanders to order hangings to the value of 1000 marks or more. In part payment, in January 1521, Gresham asked Wolsey to obtain a licence for him to profit by international trade including a voyage to Turkey. Margaret, Duchess of Savoy, impounded one of his ships carrying wheat from Antwerp. Gresham asked Wolsey to sign a letter in his support in March 1521, and wrote that he had obtained eight cloths-of-gold for hanging the Cardinal's closet at Hampton Court.[4]

The Gresham family motto is Fiat voluntas tua ('Thy will be done').[5]

Gresham died at Bethnal Green on 21 February 1549.[1]

Marriage and issue

Richard Gresham married firstly, Audrey Lynne (d. 28 December 1522), the daughter of William Lynne, of Southwick, Northamptonshire, by whom he had two sons and two daughters:[6]

  • Elizabeth Gresham.[6]



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  • Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham by J.W. Burgon (London, 1839, new edition 1968)
  • Template:1911
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