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Paper: The Gresham Professors of Astronomy 1597–2013
Volume: 501, Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VIII
Page: 173
Authors: Shrimplin, V.
Abstract: Gresham College is named after Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–1579), an English merchant and financier who worked for the four key Tudor monarchs, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. He studied at Cambridge before going to Antwerp where he was a merchant as well as the financial agent of the crown—negotiating loans, and procuring funds and goods. Gresham also acted as ambassador and was well rewarded with a salary, lands, and a knighthood in 1559, becoming one of the richest men in England. Sadly, Sir Thomas's only son and legitimate heir died in 1564. As a result he left his vast fortune to the Corporation of London and the Mercers' Company for the purpose of founding a College in London. Seven professors were to be appointed to read lectures daily—in various subjects including astronomy. The first Gresham professor of astronomy (predating chairs in astronomy at Oxford and Cambridge) was appointed in 1597 and a continuous line of professors—and their lectures—has taken place ever since, up to the present day when lectures are both free and open to the public in London as well as being recorded and available globally via the internet.
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