Sir Thomas Cook

 

  • Richest of the Rich position: 113
  • Birth/Death: c 1410-1478
  • Origin of wealth: Merchant
  • Wealth: £20,000
  • Net National Income: £3.6m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.55%
  • In Today’s Money: £6.104 billion

One measure of Cook’s wealth was his capacity to pay a fine of £5,333 in 1468, having had a charge of treason reduced to one of concealing a treason. Yet no one knows where or when he was born or who his family were.

He first came to note in London in 1425 as a drapery apprentice, but around the time of his trial he was running a stock worth £1,600 and collecting ancient tapestries and expensive plate to decorate his City mansion. His fortunes were intimately mixed up with the affairs of various royals, including Edward IV’s sister Margaret, whose wedding to the Duke of Burgundy he financed. He lent money to Queen Margaret and to Edward IV, who professed outrage at finding Cook amongst the Lancastrian plotters against him. Contemporaries reckoned Edward went after Cook as much for the money as for any legal reason, and the king was joined by his in-laws and the queen who tried to get 10% of the fine for themselves. Cook was both an MP and Mayor of London and died surrounded by wealth.

At his peak he was worth £20,000 or more, 0.55% of net national income which stood at £3.6m at the time. In today’s money he would be worth £6.1bn.

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