William Garrard

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Sir William Garrard
Lord Mayor of London
In office
Preceded byJohn Lyon
Succeeded byThomas Offley
Member of Parliament for London
In office
Sheriff of London
In office
Auditor of London
In office
Personal details

Sir William Garrard (1507-1571) was a businessman, banker, and slave trader[1] from the City of London who was active in local and national government and acquired country landholdings.

He is notable for his efforts in the expansion of English trade with Russia and West Africa and for his efforts in the practical help for poor and sick inhabitants of London.

Early life[edit]

Descended from a gentry family in Kent, he was born in London as the son of John Garrard, a prominent London businessman and member of the Grocers' Company.

His father's family were minor landowners at Sittingbourne, descended from Sir Simon Attegare,(born 1365) whose son Stephen changed his family name to Garrard.[2] Growing up in the parish of St Magnus-the-Martyr near London Bridge, he became a member of the Haberdashers' Company and involved himself in public affairs.

Public service[edit]

In 1545, he was appointed by the Court of Aldermen as a Surveyor of the Poor, with the duties of trying to find ways to combat poverty. He served in that position until 1549, while also serving as the Treasurer of St. Bartholomew's Hospital between 1548-1549.[3] During this time was an Alderman for the London ward of Aldgate between 1547-1550. He would also serve as an Alderman for the London wards of Broad Street between 1550–1556 and Lime Street between 1556-1571.[4]

In 1552, he was elected Sheriff of London, serving a term. In 1555, he was elected Lord Mayor of London, and he was also knighted that same year. In 1556 he became Auditor of London, and in 1557, he was elected as Member of Parliament for City of London.[3][4]


Garrard dedicated his time to drawing up constitutions for new hospitals, in which he would serve as President of Christ's Hospital between 1553–1554, Bridewell Hospital between 1558–1559, and St. Bartholomew's Hospital from 1559-1571. He was the Surveyor of Hospitals between 1566–1567, and Comptroller-General of the city's hospitals from 1568 until his death.

School Trustee[edit]

Together with Sir William Petre and Simon Lowe, he was an executor of the will of Maurice Griffith, Bishop of Rochester, the three having also been mourners at his funeral.[5][6] In consequence of this, these three played a part as the initial trustees in the founding of Friars School, Bangor.[7]


He was a Master of the Haberdashers Company in 1557, as well as a member of the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands. He was a consul of the Russia Company between 1555–1556, and Governor from 1561 until his death, which was also referred to as his company by this time. Garrard served as the Governor of the Company of Mineral and Battery Works in 1568,[3] and he was considered one of the great merchants of London.[3]

Royal financier[edit]

In 1552, William Cecil on behalf of King Edward VI, negotiated a £40,000 loan from the Merchant Adventurers through Garrard.[3] In 1561, Garrard, along with Sir William Chester, loaned £30,000 to Queen Elizabeth I, in which she personally exempted them from usury laws, allowing them to receive 10% interest on their loan.[8]

Voyages and trade[edit]

Garrard financed a voyage to Barbary in 1552, which introduced him to the slave trade. Several voyages to Guinea would follow, including voyages in 1553 and 1567.[3][9] Garrard was one of the original developers of the Moroccan trade in 1553.[1] That year he also helped finance the first voyage of the Russia Company, an attempt by Sir Hugh Willoughby to find a Northeast Passage.

In 1564, Garrard helped finance Sir John Hawkins second voyage, in which fundraising for the trip was done through a meeting at his personal residence. He would also support Hawkins' third voyage, which ended in disaster and cost Garrard £21,000.[3]

Exclusive trading rights with Russia[edit]

In 1567, Tsar Ivan IV granted exclusive trading rights to Garrard's Russia Company. The Tsar wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth I personally awarding the rights to Garrard, as well as several others within the company.[10]

Royal Exchange[edit]

In 1566, Garrard contributed financing toward the creation of Sir Thomas Gresham's first Royal Exchange. Garrard would be named a commissioner of the undertaking. In February 1566, a group of men met at Sir John Rivers' residence to celebrate the finalization of the plans for the exchange, in which Gresham personally thanked Garrard in front of the crowd.[11] The building was opened in 1570 during a celebration by the Queen.


Before 1539, he married Isabel Nethermill, sister of the Coventry MP Sir John Nethermill and daughter of Coventry businessman Julian Nethermill (died 11 April 1539) and his wife Joan. Of their children:[12]


  1. ^ a b "Dynamics of Commercial Development", Merchants and revolutions: commercial change..., p. 17, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  2. ^ "Garrard of Lamer", The English baronetage, p. 492, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Garrard", The House of Commons, 1509-1558, p. 191, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Aldermen of London"[unreliable source], Tudor Place, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  5. ^ Thomas F. Mayer and Courtney B. Walters (2008) The Correspondence of Reginald Pole, IV: a Biographical Companion. The British Isles, p.231
  6. ^ The Diary of Henry Machyn, Nicholas J.G. ed., Camden Society Original series 42: London, 1848, p. 180.
  7. ^ W. Ogwen Williams in The Dominican Jones & Haworth (eds.)(1957), p.30
  8. ^ "Domestic-Elizabeth", Calendar of state papers..., p. 182, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  9. ^ "The Deposition of John Hawkins", An English Garner, p. 231, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  10. ^ "The English Voyages", The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques..., p. 92, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  11. ^ "Sir Thomas Gresham and the Royal Exchange", The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 65, p. 491, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.
  12. ^ "Garrard of Lamer", A genealogical and heraldic history of extinct..., p. 213, Retrieved 5 Oct 2009.