Lord William Latimer

 

  • Richest of the Rich position: 122
  • Birth/Death: 1330-1381
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £15,000
  • Net National Income: £2.8m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.53%
  • In Today’s Money: £5.882 billion

As chamberlain to Edward III between 1371 and 1376, when the king had lost his grip on affairs, Latimer controlled both written and personal access to the king. It was a rewarding role for Latimer, who came from Yorkshire, but he did not inherit his father’s income as his mother outlived him. With just £333 annuity from his father, he was dependent on royal service for his wealth.

In his early years he fought in France, from the Battle of Crecy in 1346, where he served as a sixteen year old through to the 1360s. His rewards for service were prodigious. He acquired estates in France, made money from ransoming French aristocrats, became warden of the Cinque Ports and northern forests, and acquired valuable wardships. All these activities allowed Latimer to build up the capital to lend money to the Crown at a profitable rate of interest. He also sold licences for wool exports free of custom duties and purchased royal debt at a discount. Latimer profited from these schemes at a time of great financial stringency and he naturally made enemies. At the Good Parliament of 1376, he was impeached, fined and lost his office. But he recovered the king’s favour, though no longer held the office of chamberlain.

Latimer died in 1381. At his height, his fortune was around £15,000, representing 0.53% of net national income at the time. In today’s terms that would be over £5.8bn.

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