Richard Whittington: The orphan who became Mayor of London three times

Richard Whittington,also better known as Dick in pantomimes and comedies, was Mayor of the City of London three times, in 1397, 1406 and 1419. Although born an orphan in the town of Pauntley near Gloucester in 1359, Richard Whittington managed to become one of most influential and respected citizens of London due to his determination, intelligence and hard work. His name is part of the London tradition.

Ruchard Whittington’s Early Years

Adversity was a consistent theme throughout Richard Whittington’s life. Richard Whittington was born in 1359, the same year that his father, Sir William Whittington, passed away. Richard, being the youngest son, did not inherit very much, but he was eager to establish his place in the family. It was usual procedure at the time for the sons of the aristocracy to have their respective trades taught to them by a London merchant when they reached the age of 14, and he did so.

Richard Whittington was a successful apprentice in spite of the challenges he faced throughout his training. Because of his great business abilities and his tireless effort, he became a prosperous cloth merchant in a very short period of time. He owes his success to the combination of these two factors. She was successful in buying his company in a very short period of time and has proceeded to expand his riches and power over the years.

Richard Whittington’s wedding

In 1385, Richard Whittington married Alice Fitzwarren, daughter of a knight of the Gloucestershire. The marriage was a happy one and Alice proved to be a loyal and supportive companion to Richard throughout his life.

Richard Whittington and King Henry V

Richard Whittington’s success in business and his growing wealth and influence in London did not go unnoticed by King Henry V. The king learned to trust Richard and his financial skills, and entrusted him with funds for the restoration of Westminster Abbey and improvements to the city’s sewers and water supply.

Dick Whittington as Mayor of London

The three times that Richard Whittington was elected Mayor of London is often regarded as his crowning achievement. His initial election was in 1397, and he went on to win reelection in 1406 and 1419. Richard Whittington was a commoner, yet the people of London valued him much for his integrity, honesty, and leadership qualities despite the fact that he was a commoner.

The legacy that Richard Whittington has left behind is quite astounding. Liber Albus, also known as the White Book, was produced by John Carpenter in 1419 and was one of the first registers of the manners and procedures of the City of London. He was responsible for its creation. Carpenter was an attorney who, in the year 1417, was appointed to the position of secretary of the city. Thereafter, Whittington chose Carpenter as one of the four executors of his estate. This book is still widely regarded as one of the most important resources for learning about mediaeval London.

Richard Whittington also bequeathed funds towards the reconstruction of Newgate Prison, which was referred to as “The Whit” before to its destruction in the Great Fire of 1666. Richard’s will stipulated that these funds be used.

Even though it is more difficult to provide evidence for, the myth of the cat is still told today. It was said that a statue in one of the niches at the front of the restored Newgate Prison included a figure of Whittington accompanied by a cat. It was also said that a portrait in Mercers Hall, which has since been lost, featured the same image. In 1946, during the course of restoration work at St. Michael’s Church Paternoster Royal, construction workers came across the mummified remains of a cat that had been entombed behind a tower cornice. The remains were found close to the grave of Dick Whittington, who had been laid to rest at the church in 1423. The church had been reconstructed some time in the 15th century, as stated in Whittington’s bequest.

After the devastating fire that occurred in 1666, it was rebuilt by Wren, and it is believed that the cat was reburied within the structure. There is proof of the cat mythology in a museum, and it is possible that this evidence is the most persuasive. Around the year 1862, construction work was done on many properties in Westgate Street, Gloucester, that were believed to have been owned by the Whittington family in the 15th century. It was discovered that one of the structures had a stone sculpture from the period of Richard Whittington that depicted an unambiguous depiction of a man holding a cat. The relief was located on one of the buildings. This peculiar antique is presently being shown in the Gloucestershire Folk Museum, where it serves as a valuable exhibition.

The tale of Highgate Hill is more difficult to accept as fact. If we are expected to assume that Whittington was driving back to Pauntley in a state of hopelessness when he was summoned away from the Bow Bells, then he must have had a very poor sense of direction if he travelled via Highgate. Nonetheless, there is a link with Highgate since the shelters that were founded under his will were located there until the 19th century, when they were transferred to East Grinstead, where they continue to exist today. These shelters are still there.

How was Richard Whittington remembered?

Richard Whittington was remembered as a man of success and a benefactor of the City of London. His figure has been immortalized in numerous statues, paintings and sculptures, and his name has been given to many streets, squares and public places throughout the city. The legend of the cat has also helped keep the memory of him alive over the centuries.


Richard Whittington was a pivotal figure in the annals of London’s past and is considered one of the city’s most notable residents. His life served as an illustration of how perseverance and effort can lead to achievement. Because of his successful career as a textile merchant and his generous contributions to the neighbourhood, he will be remembered for generations to come in this city. The story of the cat has always been a vital element of his cultural heritage, despite the fact that it is difficult to substantiate. His likeness is commemorated in a great number of works of art and monuments located all around the city, and his name is still widely recognised and held in high esteem in many parts of the world today.

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