Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/153

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Gresham
Gresham
145

demi-lancers' harness, which he asked permission to buy for the defence of the realm (State Papers, 6 Dec. 1553). Similarly Gresham was not averse to taking part in the heavy carousals of the Flemish custom-house officials, and often made them costly presents. By these means the gates of Gravelines were always open to his servants at night for the exportation of treasure (Burgon, i. 144). He refers in his letters of 31 Jan., 6 and 15 Feb. 1554 to the panic produced on the Antwerp exchange by the news of Wyatt's rebellion, whereby the queen's credit was for a time seriously affected (ib. pp. 166-8). On 15 March the queen appointed commissioners to examine his accounts and pay what was due to him.

In May Gresham carried despatches to Charles V from Simon Renard, the emperor's ambassador in England, and next month set out for Spain to obtain a loan of five hundred thousand ducats. He had previously secured the emperor's passport and license for exporting the amount, and was allowed 30s. a day for his ' dietts.' Gresham was detained in Spain for several months, and found difficulty in procuring so much bullion. One of the oldest banks in Seville suspended payment in consequence of his operations (cf. his instructions for this commission in Burgon, App. xi.) But he finally obtained the sum of 97,878l. 15s. (ib. App. xiii.),and returned in the beginning of 1555 to find his duties at Antwerp placed in other hands. In May, however, he was again in regular correspondence with the government, taking up loans and purchasing military stores as before. In June he received Sir William Cecil, who was his intimate friend, at his house in Antwerp. He was present, 25 Oct., at the abdication of Charles V at Brussels. On 12 April he wrote to Secretary Boxall, and on 1 May to the queen, praying for an audit of his accounts, which he says was always granted to his master and uncle, Sir John Gresham, by Henry VIII 'under his broad seall of England' (ib. i. 198-201).

Mary died on 17 Nov. 1558. Her ministers, unlike the ministers of her predecessor, had corresponded with Gresham on formal business terms, which show that he never stood very high in their personal regard. One of them, John Paulet, marquis of Winchester, was a bitter enemy, and it has been inferred that a gap in Gresham's correspondence, extending from March 1556 to March 1558, is due to his being without regular official employment owing to Winchester's influence with the queen. But it is fairly certain that Mary never shared her minister's dislike of Gresham. By the advice of Boxall he regularly sent the queen all the news he could procure of the health and employments of her neglectful husband. At times he corresponded directly with her (ib. pp. 157-60, 181-4), and Mary appears to have sent replies in her own hand (ib. p. 161). In January 1555-6 he exchanged new-year's presents with her, and received substantial marks of her favour. She made him liberal grants of land, including the priory of Austin Canons at Massingham in Norfolk, and the manors of Langham, Merston, and Combes (ib. pp. 189-90).

On the accession of Elizabeth, Gresham's friend Cecil became secretary of state. His predecessor, Boxall, on resigning office (18 Nov.), explained to him the present condition of Gresham's monetary relations with the crown, and mentioned how two bonds for the repayment of loans contracted by Gresham were, while waiting for the late queen's signature, used for `cering' her body after death (ib. p. 215). Gresham was present at Elizabeth's first council, held at Hatfield on 20 Nov., three days after the death of Mary. Elizabeth received him graciously, and continued him in his office, promising him ample rewards for future services (ib. pp. 216-18). Gresham soon suggested plans for improving the royal finances. He insisted that it was desirable (1) to restore the purity of the coinage, (2) to repress the Steelyard merchants, (3) to grant few licenses, (4) to borrow as little as possible beyond seas, and (5) to maintain good credit with English merchants (ib. App. xxi.)

For the first nine years of Elizabeth's reign Gresham still divided his time between London and Antwerp, raising, as before, loans in the Low Countries, and exporting thence to England, as well as he was able, weapons of war and ammunition. He was also in the habit of bringing over for friends such commodities as Bologna sausages, salt tongues, or paving-stones. On one occasion he sent wainscoting and glass to the Earl of Ormonde, and 'rollers' for 'her headpieces or silke' for the queen. His house at Antwerp was now in the Long New Street, then the principal thoroughfare of the city. His clerk, Richard Clough, continued to represent him at Antwerp when he himself was in London. On one occasion Gresham stayed abroad for nearly a year continuously ; but his customary sojourns in the Low Countries did not exceed two or three months at one time. His letters to Cecil are often full of valuable political intelligence, warning him of the designs of Philip, of the dangers of a catholic coalition against England, and of the necessity of supporting the protestants in France and the Low Countries. Gresham's influence was great on

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