Named after Sir Thomas Gresham, (c. 1519 – November 21, 1579), was a merchant and financier to monarchs, Edward VI (1547 – 1553), Mary I (1553 – 1558) and Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603). He also founded the Royal Exchange. But this was not his only lasting legacy, on his death he bequeathed his Broad Street home to be used as an institute of learning and the rents from the Royal Exchange should be vested in the Corporation of London and the Mercers Company, to administer the college in which seven professors should read lectures, one each day of the week, in astronomy, geometry, physic, law, divinity, rhetoric and music. It was named Gresham College and was the first institution of higher learning in London, established in 1579. The house was knocked down in 1768 and the college moved to a new location in 1843 on what was then Lad Lane and Cat Eaton Street, the latter being a corruption of Catte Street, meaning a street full of cats – or this may have been slang for prostitutes. In 1845 the much altered street was renamed Gresham Street.
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