Thomas White (merchant)

(1492-1567) English merchant

Sir Thomas White (1492–12 February 1567) was an English cloth merchant, civic leader and founder of St John's College, Oxford.

Statue of Sir Thomas White in Coventry


Thomas White was born in Reading, Berkshire. He was the son of William White, a clothier of Reading, and his wife, Mary, daughter of Henry Kibblewhite. At age 12 he became an apprentice to a London merchant.[1] In time he became a prosperous clothier. In 1546 he served as sheriff of London. In 1553 he was Lord Mayor of London.[1] Thomas White became Sir Thomas White when he was knighted by Queen Mary II of England the same year.[1] Sir Thomas founded St John's College, Oxford in 1555.[2] He died on 12 February 1567 at Oxford University. Sir Thomas was buried in the chapel of St. John's College, Oxford.[3]

The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity was started in 1542 and it still exists. It gives interest-free loans to new businesses in Leicestershire and Rutland. There are several memorials to Sir Thomas White in England and he is memorialized on Leicester's clock tower.


Sir Thomas first married a woman named Avice. She died on 26 February 1558.[3] He married secondly Joan, daughter of John Lake. She was the widow of Ralph Warren, Lord Mayor of London.[4] Sir Thomas White did not have any children by either wife.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Charles Mathew Clode, Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist (London: Harrison and Sons, 1875), p. 456
  2. John Stow, A survey of London (London: Chatto & Windus, 1876), p. 195
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 David Nash Ford, 'Sir Thomas White (1492-1567)', Royal Berkshire History (2003)
  4. Henry Thomas, The Wards of London, Vol I (London: J. Gifford, 1828), p. 423

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