Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Viner, Thomas

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Sir Thomas Vyner in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

VINER, Sir THOMAS (1588–1665), lord mayor of London, son of Thomas Viner and his second wife, Anne, was born at North Cerney, Gloucestershire, on 15 Dec. 1588. He came to London soon after his father's death in 1600, and lived with Samuel Moore, goldsmith, who had married Viner's half-sister Mary. It was a time of great commercial prosperity, and young Viner in due course became a citizen and member of the Goldsmiths' Company, and served the office of prime warden. He also connected himself with the city, being elected alderman of Billingsgate ward between 17 Sept. and 6 Oct. 1646. He removed to Langbourn on 22 April 1651, in place of the royalist alderman Sir R. Browne, who was ejected (City Records, Rep. 61, f. 105). On 4 Sept. 1660 Browne was restored to his ward, and Viner's official connection with the city appears to have then ceased. He was elected sheriff on midsummer day 1648, and lord mayor in 1653. On 8 Feb. 1653–4 he was knighted by Oliver Cromwell at Grocers' Hall, and was created a baronet by Charles II on 18 June 1661.

Sir Thomas Viner was very successful in business, and obtained from James I on 8 July 1624 the reversion of the office of comptroller of the mint, and in the time of Cromwell he supplied large quantities of bullion and plate both to the state and to the East India Company, and contracted for coining it into money. In 1656 he and Alderman Blackwell bought Spanish prize plate to the value of 60,000l. to be coined at the mint at their charge (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656–7). He was also treasurer with Alderman Sir Christopher Packe for the money collected for the Piedmontese protestants (ib.). His transactions with the state were on a large scale, both in the way of loans and of wrought plate (ib. passim). In the latter part of his life he lived in a mansion at Hackney, near the church, called the ‘Black and White’ House, which he purchased in 1622 and enlarged as a country house. He died there on 11 May 1665, and was buried on 1 June in the church of St. Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street, where a handsome monument was erected to his memory by his nephew (Sir) Robert Viner [q. v.] Pepys attended the funeral at Goldsmiths' Hall, ‘which hall, and Haberdashers' also, was so full of people that we were fain for ease and coolness to go forth to Paternoster Row.’

Viner was thrice married: first, to Anne, daughter of Richard Parsons, merchant, of London, by whom he had four daughters; secondly, to Honor, daughter of George Humble, citizen and stationer, of London. By his second marriage he had two sons, George, who was knighted in 1663 and succeeded him as baronet; and Thomas, who became clerk of the patents. He married lastly, Alice, widow of Alderman John Perryn, by whom he had no issue. She survived him, and was buried at East Acton, Middlesex.

By his will, dated 16 March 1664, after numerous legacies to relatives and friends, he left 300l. to Christ's Hospital and 30l. for a dinner to the governors, 200l. to the Goldsmiths' Company in trust for poor members living in or near Lombard Street, and gifts to the poor of St. Mary Woolnoth and Hackney; his son Thomas was appointed sole executor. The Goldsmiths' Company possess a good three-quarter portrait of Viner in his official robes as lord mayor, and an inferior copy of this painting is in the council-room of Christ's Hospital. Viner knew how to enjoy the favour both of Charles I and Charles II and Cromwell, retaining his lucrative appointments during the whole of that troublous period. He is strongly abused for his gains during the Commonwealth (Mystery of the Good Old Cause, 1660, p. 46), but nevertheless obtained a baronetcy at the Restoration.

[City Records; Pepys's Diary; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; authorities for Viner, Sir Robert.]

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