Honourable Citizens. Sir Thomas Gresham. 286

Honourable Citizens. Sir Thomas Gresham.

England: and advanced to the Title of Earl of Southampton.

Sir John Allen, Lord Maior of the City, a Man of great Wisdom: The same King Henry the VIIIth made one of his Privy Council.

Sir John Allen.

Sir Thomas Gresham, Mercer, famous and well known to Posterity, for that Noble Use he made of his great Riches in building the Royal Exchange, and founding a College out of his own House, for professing the liberal Arts and Sciences. This Man King Edward VI. Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, employed as their Agent Abroad; especially at Antwerp, where he had been a Merchant. But chiefly he was Queen Elizabeth's Factor unto the Year 1570. In the Year 1566, in the Month of August, he was sent over to Antwerp, to take up Money for the Queen; and took up Fourteen Thousand Six Hundred Sixty Seven Pounds Six Shillings and Eightpence Flemish, payable at Antwerp, the 20th of February following. And there was prolonged from the 20th of August, the Sum of Thirty Four Thousand Three Hundred Eighty Five Pounds Thirteen Shillings and Fourpence Flemish, due then from the Queen, and payable the 20th of February. Which Sums together in the whole, were about Forty Nine Thousand, Fifty Three Pounds. And in December, the same Year, there was another Debt of the Queens prolonged, being the Sum of Eight Thousand Five Hundred Thirty Two Pounds Flemish, for Six Months.

Sir Thomas Gresham.

The Queen's Agent at Antwerp.

And whereas the Queen had for a good while followed the Practice of taking up Money Abroad of Strangers, (as King Edward and Queen Mary had done before her) he persuaded her to take up the Money she needed of her own Merchants, which would be both for her Honour, and for the Benefit of them, while she allowed them the same Consideration she had done Strangers before.

And Gresham's Honour will always remain, for this excellent Counsel, and for another Advice, in the Year 1569, when the Queen, and her Treasurer, were in a great Plunge, when she owed much Money, and had need of more, and knew not whence to have it, but from the Rich Bankers of Antwerp: And all Correspondence with that City was now broke off by Duke D' Alva's Governance of the Low-Countries. The English therefore were now carrying away their Effects and Trade to Hamburgh. Secretary Cecyl, (who now managed the Exchequer) feared, that the Merchants should not have Money enough to carry on the Trade, as they would have had, if all were open with Antwerp: And the Queen owing much Money to the Merchants, and to her Creditors Abroad, she intended out of the Customs of Cloth to have repaid them. Which she feared therefore would fall short, the Trade being removed to a new Place. These Doubts the Secretary imparted to Sir Thomas Gresham. Who knowing well the State of Trade, and of the Merchants, told the Secretary, that in his Opinion he needed not to make any Doubt of that seeming Difficulty, viz. of the Queen's Payment of her Creditors, if she saw her Merchants well paid in London their first Payment, which was half of her Debt to them. For by that Time the other Money should be payable here to her said Merchants, they should have both Plenty of Money at Hamburgh, and here. He assured him, the Goods that our Merchants had shipped from Hamburgh hither, were well worth One Hundred Thousand Pounds, and better. And the Shipping that they made now hence with our Commodities, was richly worth Two Hundred Thousand Pounds, and better. For that there would be above Thirty Thousand Pounds Worth of Cloaths. The Custom whereof would be worth to the Queen, at the least, Ten Thousand Pounds; which would discharge, he said, that Debt, if the Queen pleased. And whereas the Secretaries greatest Care was, that our Merchants should not have Money enough for to buy up our Commodities, Gresham told him, he needed not doubt of it, considering the great Vent they had at Hamburgh already, and were like to have.

His excellent Counsel to the Queen for taking up Money.

Hamburgh Merchants.

Therefore he humbly beseeched the Secretary, for the Stay and Advancing of the Queen's Credit, that this small Payment, agreed upon already at Hamburgh, might be paid, considering that he had written before to the said Creditors, that they should have a Payment made there now this August. Which Payment, he said, would not a little advance her Highness's Honour and Credit. And how much her Highnesses Credit had stood her in Stead beyond the Seas for ready Money, it was not too tedious and long a Matter to trouble him withal. But that if he were able to persuade the Queen's Majesty, and him, the Secretary, he would have that Matter, above all other Things, cared for: Assuring him that he did know for certain, that the Duke D' Alva was more troubled with the Queen's great Credit, and with the Vent of her Commodities at Hamburgh, than he was with any Thing else, and quaked for Fear, as Gresham express'd it. Which, as he said, was one of the chiefest Things that let and hindred, that the Duke could not come by the Tenth Penny that he then demanded, for the Sale of all Goods any kind of way in the Low Countries; which, Gresham believed, would be his utter undoing. He advised therefore, that the Queen would in this Time use no Strangers, but her own Subjects; whereby he, and all other Princes might see, what a Prince of Power she was. And by this Means there was no Doubt, but that her Highness should cause the Duke of Alva to know himself, and to make that End with the Low Countries, that her Majesty would her self, what Bruit soever was there spread Abroad to the contrary.

And seeing he was entred so far, (as he proceeded with the Secretary) concerning the Queen's Credit beyond the Seas, wherein he had travailed this Twenty Years, he added, that by Experience in using our own Merchants, he found great Honour accrued to the Prince, and also great Profit to the Merchants, and to the whole Realm, whatsoever some of the Merchants said to the contrary. For when our Prince ought her own mere Merchants Sixty or Eighty Thousand Pounds, then they know themselves, and were daily ready to serve as good Cheap, as Strangers did: Which he would wish again in such Time of Extremity to be used. For that he knew our Merchants were able to do it. Because the Debt is divided into many Mens Hands, and by no Means can hinder them, having Interest. This was the wise Policy and Advice Sir Thomas Gresham once gave the Queen, at a very critical Juncto, as any happened in her Reign. And meeting with such a choice Remain of this brave London Merchant, I could not but, for his lasting Honour, publish it in this Place, though somewhat Long.

And having said all this, let me say a little more of this eminent Merchant, in regard of his Counsel to the Queen for procuring Money, and keeping up her Credit among the Kingdoms and Princes of the World; and his own Assistance of her with considerable Treasure; with respect to this critical Year, 1569; when the