If you have heard of Dick Whittington at all, then you'll probably know him as being a pantomime character, with his cat, and the Bow Bells saying those famous words:
"Turn again, Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London!"
Just a story? Well, not quite. Dick, or give him his full name, Sir Richard Whittington, really did exist, although you can forget the story about the cat and Bow Bells. Dick was the son of a wealthy Gloucestershire landowner in the fourteenth century. He decided to try life in London, and soon became very successful and very rich. He built almshouses and libraries in the city, and restored Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, which is still in existence today. And yes, he did become Mayor of London three times. He was also a great favourite of the King, Edward the Third - though this may have been because of his wealth! Records show that Dick Whittington often lent the king money - but he didn't lose that friendship when it came to reclaiming the debt. Instead, the wise Mayor of London burned all the bills in front of the king himself, wiping out any money that he was owed and thus ensuring that he would continue to be in favour.