Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rainton, Nicholas

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RAINTON, Sir NICHOLAS (1569–1646), lord mayor of London, third son of Robert Rainton, by his wife Margaret, was baptised at Heighington in the parish of Washingborough, Lincolnshire, on 10 June 1569. Having been admitted a freeman of the city and a member of the Haberdashers' Company, he established himself in business as a mercer in Lombard Street. He was elected alderman for Aldgate ward on 2 June 1621, and moved to Cornhill on 29 April 1634. He served the office of sheriff in 1621, and in 1632 became lord mayor. Thomas Heywood the dramatist composed for the inauguration of his mayoralty a pageant entitled ‘London's Fountain of Arts and Sciences.’ During his term of office (June 1633) he made a state visit to Richmond, accompanied by the aldermen, and presented Queen Henrietta Maria with a basin and ewer of gold, engraved with her arms, and of the value of 800l. (City Records, Repertory 47, fols. 273 b, 287, 302 b).

He became president of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in 1634, and held that office until his death (Remembrancia, p. 479 n.); his portrait is preserved in the hospital. In 1640, when Charles I commanded the mayor and aldermen to attend the privy council and furnish a list of such citizens as were in a position to advance money to the combined amount of 200,000l., Rainton and three other aldermen—Geere, Atkins, and Soames—refused to attend. They were proceeded against in the Star-chamber, and committed to separate prisons, Rainton being lodged in the Marshalsea. On 10 May the four aldermen were removed to the Tower. Popular indignation ran high, and in five days they were released; and, though they persisted in their refusal to rate citizens for the loan, they were dismissed without penalty (Gardiner, History, ix. 130, 135).

On 12 Aug. 1642, when the royalist lord-mayor Gurney was deposed by the House of Lords, Rainton was directed to summon a common hall for the election of a new mayor (House of Lords' Journal, v. 284). Rainton was assessed on 21 Aug. 1646 by the committee for advance of money at 2,000l. (Proceedings, 1642–56, ii. 722). He died on 19 Aug. 1646, aged 78, and was buried on 15 Sept. at Enfield. By his will, proved 11 Sept. 1646, he gave to the parish of Enfield, where his mansion, Forty House, was situate, 10l. per annum for ever to apprentice three poor children of the village, and born ‘in such houses only as had been then built forty years.’ He also left his dwelling-house in Lombard Street, with adjoining tenements, to the Haberdashers' Company in trust to provide yearly payments to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and to the parishes of St. Mary Woolchurch, St. Edmund the King, Lombard Street, and Washingborough, together with gifts to poor members of the guild. All these legacies were placed under the company's management. The rents from his Lombard Street property were much reduced, if not entirely lost, through the great fire of London.

A superb monument to his memory stands against the north wall of the vestry room of Enfield church. His effigy, in armour, wears the lord-mayor's robe.

Rainton married, at St. Christopher-le-Stocks, on 16 Nov. 1602, Rebecca, sister of Sir Thomas Moulson, lord mayor in 1633–4. He had no issue, and his great-nephew Nicholas was heir-at-law. His wife predeceased him in 1640, and was also buried at Enfield.

[Taylor's Some Account of the Taylor Family, p. 696 (contains a pedigree of Rainton); Nichols's Notes on London Pageants, 1824–5; Maitland's Hist. of London, 1760, i. 321; Robinson's Hist. of Enfield, ii. 31–5; Stow's Survey of London, ed. Strype, 1720, bk. v. pp. 65, 143; Visitation of Middlesex in 1663, 1820, p. 12.]

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