• Richest of the Rich position: 239
  • Birth/Death: 1588-1665
  • Origin of wealth: Merchant
  • Wealth: £100,000
  • Net National Income: £39m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.25%
  • In Today’s Money: £2.774 billion

Sir Thomas Viner was an object lesson in how to remain prosperous in difficult times. A Gloucestershire lad, he came to London soon after his father’s death in 1600, when he was just twelve. He lived with his half-sister’s family and joined their profession as a goldsmith.

By 1624, he was a leading member of the Goldsmiths’ Company, serving James I as comptroller of the mint. Later, under Cromwell, he supplied large quantities of bullion and plate to the state and the East India Company for use in minting coinage. He also undertook large loans to the government of the day. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Viner kept his offices despite the gains he had made during Cromwell’s rule. Indeed, Charles II gave him a baronetcy.

He died in 1665, worth perhaps £100,000, representing 0.25% of the then net national income of £39m. In today’s terms that would be over £2.7bn.

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