Sir Thomas Gresham

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Gresham, Sir Thomas

(grĕsh`əm), 1519?–1579, English merchant and financier. As the royal financial agent in Antwerp after 1551 he proved himself very able, though his methods were frequently more effective than ethical. After the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne he spent most of his time in London but went on diplomatic and financial missions. He also accumulated a great private fortune as a banker, mercer, and merchant. He was the principal figure in the founding of the Royal Exchange, and he endowed Gresham College in London. His name was given to Gresham's law, the economic principle that in the circulation of money "bad money drives out good," i.e., when depreciated, mutilated, or debased coinage (or currency) is in concurrent circulation with money of high value in terms of precious metals, the good money is withdrawn from circulation by hoarders. It was thought that Gresham was the first to state the principle, but it has been shown that it was stated long before his time and that he did not even formulate it.


See J. W. Burgon, Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham (2 vol., 1839, rep. 1968); biography by F. R. Salter (1925).

References in periodicals archive ?
When Thomas Gresham questions his nephew John about a dispute the latter has with a Mistress Blunt, John replies, But do you know her, Uncle?
But it is probably the figure of Sir Thomas Gresham that introduces a clearest interrogation on capitalism as the alleged unconflictive defining feature of Early Modern identity.
As a matter of fact, Thomas Gresham did not invent the law bearing his name.
By the reign of Elizabeth I, friends of the company, notably Sir William Cecil and Sir Thomas Gresham, shifted the balance in favor of the company so that by 1564 the Merchant Adventurers monopolized the cloth trade.
Then, using a technique now familiar from new historicism, canonical literary texts, including Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Timon of Athens, Jonson's The Alchemist, and Massinger's A New Way to Pay Old Debts, are paired with archival materials concerning the financial dealings of figures such as Walter Ralegh, Thomas Gresham, James Burbage, and others.
Also on this day: 1329: Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland died; 1566: Sir Thomas Gresham laid the foundation stone of the first Royal Exchange in London; 1929: The Vatican city was set up in Rome; 1929: Margaret Bondfield became the first woman cabinet minister as Minister of Labour; 1933: The Seven Deadly Sins was performed in Paris for the first time; 1973: The Chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt, began a historic and emotional visit to Israel; 1977: Queen Elizabeth's 25th jubilee.
China's Shanxi Province killed an estimated 830,000 people; 1571: The Royal Exchange founded by financier Sir Thomas Gresham was opened by Elizabeth 1; 1832: Birth of French impressionist Edouard Manet; 1849: English-born Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from a New York medical school to become the first female doctor; 1898: Birth of Soviet film director Sergei Esenstein; 1931: Death of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova; 1989: Death of Spanish painter Salvador Dali.