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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): CLA/062

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1575-1992

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 4.9 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Royal Exchange was built at the expense of Sir Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce for the City of London. It was opened in January 1571 by Queen Elizabeth I who awarded the building its Royal title. In his will dated 1575 Gresham left equal parts of the Royal Exchange to the Corporation of London and the Mercers' Company upon various trusts. One was that the Corporation should pay 50 a year to lecturers in divinity, astronomy, music and geometry; and the Mercers' Company should make similar payments to lecturers in law, physic and rhetoric. He also left his house in Bishopsgate Street on the understanding that the lecturers would occupy the house and read their lectures there. The house was soon renamed Gresham College and became a centre of learning from which grew the Royal Society, founded in 1662, which met at Gresham College until 1710.

In 1768 the Crown purchased the site of the College for a new Excise Office, and provided that the salaries of the professors should be doubled to compensate them for the loss of their lodgings. A new College was erected at the corner of Gresham Street and Basinghall Street, near Moorgate, in 1842 and was enlarged in 1913. The College moved to Barnard's Inn Hall, Holborn, in 1991 and still runs a programme of free lectures.

In 1596 the Corporation of London and the Mercers' Company appointed committees to control the estates and carry out the directions of the will. These committees sat together as the Joint Grand Gresham Committee.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to Gresham College, 1575-1952, including the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, dated 5 July 1575; receipts for payments to officers; workmen's bills for repairs, decorations, and alterations; acquittance books; account books; cash books; minute books and papers, Royal Exchange and Gresham Trusts Committee; lecturers' papers.

Also papers relating to the Royal Exchange, 1670-1997, including workmen's bills, orders for payment and receipts; accounts of arrears of rents and various administrative and financial papers relating to rebuilding and maintenance.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

For Corporation of London records relating to schools and education, see CLA/053: City of London School, CLA/054: City of London School for Girls, CLA/055: City of London Freemen's School, CLA/056: Guildhall School of Music and Drama, CLA/057: Morgan family, CLA/058: Dorothea Crompton, CLA/059: Maurice Cole, CLA/060: Madeline Payne, CLA/062: Gresham College and Royal Exchange, CLA/063: Education, CLA/067: Christ's Hospital, COL/CC/CLE: Court of Common Council City of London Education Committee, COL/CC/CLF: Board of Governors, City of London Freemen's School, COL/CC/CLFO: Court of Common Council City of London Freemen's Orphans School, COL/CC/CLG: Board of Governors, City of London School for Girls, COL/CC/CLS: Board of Governors, City of London School, COL/CC/CLSB: Court of Common Council City of London School Building Committee, COL/CC/CLSG: Court of Common Council City of London School for Girls Building Committee, COL/CC/CLSS: Court of Common Council City of London Schools Committee, COL/CC/EDC: Court of Common Council Education Committee, COL/CC/EEC: Court of Common Council Elementary Education Committee, COL/CC/GSMD: Board of Governors, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, COL/CC/LCE: Local Centres Examinations Board Executive Committee, COL/CC/MDC: Court of Common Council Music and Drama Committee, COL/CC/SCH: Court of Common Council City of London School Committee, COL/CC/SCS: Court of Common Council Schools Special Reference Committee, COL/CCS/SO: Comptroller and City Solicitor: Solicitor, COL/CHD/IC: Chamberlain's Department: Institutions and Courts, COL/CHD/TF: Chamberlain's Department: Trust and other Funds and COL/PL, COL/PLD/PL, COL/SVD/PL and COL/TSD/AD for building plans.

Publication note:

Sir Thomas Gresham and his Trusts by Ernest Featherstone, Clerk to the Gresham Committee (London, 1952); A Brief History of Gresham College 1497-1997, by David Vermont (1997); The Royal Exchange by Dr. Ann Saunders (1991).



Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: February 2009

Building maintenance | Building operations | Construction engineering
Colleges (UK) | Educational institutions
Lectures (teaching method) | Teaching methods
Further education institutions

Personal names
Gresham | Sir | Thomas | ? 1519-1579 | Knight | founder of the Royal Exchange

Corporate names
Gresham College | Corporation of London
Mercers Company
The Royal Exchange | Corporation of London

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Hertfordshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe