The Charity of Sir Thomas White, Warwick

Sir Thomas White PortraitAbout The Charity of Sir Thomas White, Warwick

The Charity of Sir Thomas White, Warwick provides interest-free loans for young people establishing a business, or to assist in improving their existing business in Warwick or undertaking tertiary education.

The main requirement for eligibility for both student loans and business loans is residence/premises within the borough of Warwick, i.e. with a CV34 postcode.  For more details on eligibility, please see the specifics on student loans and business loans

History of Sir Thomas White

Sir Thomas White, was born in Reading, Berkshire, in 1492, the son of William White, a clothier. He was brought up in London and apprenticed, in 1504, to Hugh Acton, a member of the Merchant Taylors' Company. Acton left him £100 upon his death, and Thomas used this bequeathal to begin business for himself in 1523. He became master of the Merchant Taylor's Company around 1535.

By this time he was regarded as a prosperous clothier and in 1542 he made his first benevolent gift to the city of Coventry for the purchase of park land. In 1545 he made a loan of £2000 to the city of Bristol.

In 1544 Thomas was committed to Newgate prison for refusing 'to take upon himself the weight' of office of alderman for Cornhill. But he was also an Alderman of the City of London in that same year, and contributed £300 to King Henry VIII for his war against Scotland.

By 1547 he became Sheriff of London; the "reign" of the Nine Day Queen, Lady Jane Grey, followed six years later, during which time Thomas' loyalties lay with the Roman (or Marian) side, and this loyalty was apparently repaid by his election as the Lord Mayor of London on 29 October, some 27 days after being knighted by Queen Mary I. On the 19 August 1554 he received Philip and Mary at their entry in state into the City of London.

As Lord Mayor of London he sat on the commission for the trial of the Nine Day Queen and her adherents.

In 1555, inspired by the example of Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford, he obtained a royal licence to found St. John's College, Oxford, which he endowed with £3,000 at his death. The College is dedicated to the patron saint of Merchant Taylors and established in the buildings of the dissolved Cistercian College of St Bernard.

In 1559 he purchased Gloucester Hall, Oxford, which he opened as a hall of residence for a hundred scholars in 1560. He was also one of the founders of the Merchant Taylors' School and provided that scholars of the college should be nominated from pupils of the school.

In the year 1562 he suffered greatly from a recession in the cloth trade, and as a result of this he died a poor man, but it seems that the provisions of his will were very astutely managed by his executor, the then Master of the Rolls, Sir William Cordell. Thanks to this, he bequeathed his fortune to buy land. The profits made from renting this land were to be given to young men in Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Warwick and Northampton. Each year a small number of men, originally four, were given a sum of money to set themselves up in business or provide education. They had nine years to pay back this money, and no interest was charged.

He died on 12 February 1567 and is buried in St. John's College chapel, and although twice married to Avicia (died 1558) and Joan he left no issue.

It is said that several portraits of Sir Thomas White are in existence, but it is doubtful if any of them were painted from life. The one in St. John's College is said to be similar to those belonging to the Merchant Taylors' Company, to Leicester and to nearly all the towns to which he left benefactions

Further reading

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