About Sir Richard Whittington, MP, Lord Mayor of London
Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423) was a medieval merchant and politician, and the real-life inspiration for the pantomime character Dick Whittington. He was four times Lord Mayor of London, a Member of Parliament and a sheriff of London. In his lifetime he financed a number of public projects, such as drainage systems in poor areas of medieval London, and a hospital ward for unmarried mothers. He bequeathed his fortune to form the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington which, nearly 600 years later, continues to assist people in need. Despite knowing three of the five kings who reigned during his lifetime, there is no evidence that he was knighted.
Richard and his wife, Alice, had no children.
Dick Whittington and His Cat is an English folk tale that has often been used as the basis for stage pantomimes and other adaptations. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. The character of the boy is named after the real-life Richard Whittington, but the real Whittington did not come from a poor family.