THOMAS GUY Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: Thomas Guy                                                                     
Born: 1644                                                                           
Died: 1724                                                                           
Thomas Guy (1644-1724) was a British bookseller, speculator and de facto founder     
of Guy's Hospital, London                                                           
Thomas Guy was born a son of a lighterman, wharf owner and coal-dealer at           
Southwark. In 1668, after eight years as an apprentice of a bookseller, he began     
his own bookstore in Lombard Street. At first he sold Bibles that were poorly       
printed in England so he imported them from the Netherlands. Eventually he           
gained a privilege of printing them from the University of Oxford and became         
book publisher.                                                                     
Guy had a reputation as a miser, mainly because a rival bookseller John Dunton       
accused him of paying low wages and refusing to help the charities. In fact, Guy     
was a stock speculator. He invested in government securities and bought shares       
to the value of £42,000 in Britain's official slave-trading organisation, the       
South Sea Company. In 1720 he successfully sold his stock of the company with       
the prize ranging £300-600 per share and amassed a large fortune. During the       
British wars against the Louis XIV of France, Guy successfully speculated in         
seamen's pay tickets.                                                               
Despite his reputation, Guy did provide for charities. In 1678 he gave money to     
almshouses at Tamworth, his mother's birthplace, that he also represented in         
parliament from 1695 to 1707.                                                       
In 1704 Guy became a governor of St Thomas' Hospital. In 1707 he had built three     
wards and supported the hospital afterwards. In 1725 Guy opened the Guy's           
Hospital opposite to Thomas' Hospital at a cost of £18,793, 16 shillings.           
Thomas Guy died unmarried on December 17, 1724. His will left £219,499 to the       
Guy's Hospital. He also gave Christ's Hospital an annuity of £400. The rest of     
his estate, about £80,000, went to distant relatives.                               
In 1995, 271 years after his death, a new dual carriageway by-passing Tamworth       
was named Thomas Guy Way in his honour.