Sir Richard Whittington (1354-1423) was a merchant and Politician. He was a 4-time Lord Mayor of London, a Member of Parliament and Sheriff of London. In his life, he sought to improve conditions for those living in London, financing drainage projects and hospital wards. Whittington also provided finance for a 128 seater public toilet on the banks of the Thames known as Whittington’s Longhouse. His bequest was used to rebuild Newgate Prison, build the Guildhall Library and carry out repairs to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The remainder was used to found a charity which is still in operation today.
He was also the basis for the folk-tale Dick Whittington, who came to London to find his fortune. The real Whittington was born in Gloucestershire and being a younger son was sent to London to learn his trade as a Mercer. He became very successful and amassed a large fortune which enabled him to lend money to the King. But this is about as far as the folk-tale and the real story compare. Pictures of him with a cat come from much later periods.
He is buried in St Michael Paternoster Royal in the city (see https://petesfavouritethings.blog/2017/01/17/london-churches-st-michael-paternoster-royal/. )