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White, Sir Thomas

WHITE, SIR THOMAS (1402-1567), founder of St John's College, Oxford, was a son of William White, a clothier, and was born at Reading. At an early age he became a merchant in London and was soon a member, and then master of the Merchant Taylors Company; growing wealthier he became an alderman and sheriff of the city of London. One of the promoters of the Muscovy Company, he was knighted in 1553, and in October of the same year he was chosen lord mayor. His term of office fell in a strenuous time. He had to defend the city against Sir Thomas Wyat and his followers, and he took part in the trial of the rebels, as just previously he had done in the case of Lady Jane Grey. In 1555 White received a licence to found a college at Oxford, which he endowed with lands in the neighbourhood of the city and which, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St John Baptist, was opened in 1560. Soon after this event Sir Thomas began to lose money, and he was comparatively poor when he died at Oxford on the 12th of February 1567. His later years were mainly spent in Oxford, and he was buried in the chapel of St John's College. White had some share in founding the Merchant Taylors' School in London. He was twice married, but left no children. A portrait of him hangs in the hall of St John's College and one on glass, painted in the 16th century, is in the old library. Several early lives of him are among the college manuscripts. Sir Thomas must be distinguished from another Sir Thomas White of South Warnborough, Hampshire, some of whose property, by a curious coincidence, passed also into the possession of St John's College.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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