The Ledgend of Dick Whittington
Richard Whittington was an English merchant who became lord mayor of London on three occasions. He has become famous in legend and as a traditional pantomime hero.
Richard was the third son of Sir William Whittington of Pauntley, Gloustershire and he married Sir Ivo Fitz-waryn's daughter, Alice.
He spent his childhood, growing up at Whittington castle and playing with the other children there, and he once visited the holy Well of St. Oswald.
Following this visit Richard had a vivid dream that the spirits of the well had heard his wish to be a rich and wealthy man. They told him of a town far away where the streets were paved with gold.
When he awoke the following morning, he was so impressed with the reality of the dream that he decided to follow the dream. A neighbour prepared a letter for his to carry to a London merchant.
Eventually he found the shop of Alderman Fitz-Warrine where he worked as a scullion. After being ill-treated by the cook, Whittington runs away, but turns back when he hears the prophetic Bow Bells, “Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of great London.”
He returns and finds that his cat has been sold for a great fortune to a Moorish ruler whose Kingdom was plagued by rats and mice.
Alice, the master’s daughter was a kind-hearted girl who sympathised with him in his misery. The pair fell in love and were later married.
Whilst in London, Richard made some useful aristocratic connections. Amongst these connections were, King Richard II’s uncle Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Glouster, and Henry, Earl of Derby (later King Henry IV), to whom he supplied velvets and damasks.
Whittington sat in the city common council in 1385 and 1387 as a representative of Coleman Street Ward. He went on to serve as a sheriff in 1393-94.
When Adam Bamme, the mayor of London, died in June 1397, Whittington was appointed by the King to succeed him and in 1398-99, Whittington was elected as mayor. By 1400 he had made his fortune and made frequent, large loans to Henry IV and Henry V.
Richard (Dick) Whittington died in London in March 1423.