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Lawrence Sheriff (or Sheriffe) (c. 1515 or 1516 – September 1567) was an
Elizabethan The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in and includes the during the of until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the in England whose first monarch was ...
merchant A merchant is a person who trades in commodities In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distributi ...

merchant
and benefactor, who was notable for being
grocer A grocery store (North America), grocery or grocery shop (UK) is a store that primarily retails a general range of food products, which may be fresh Fresh or FRESH may refer to: People *DJ Fresh Daniel Edward Stein (born 11 April 197 ...
to
Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to i ...

Queen Elizabeth I
, and for creating
Rugby School Rugby School is a public school (English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, a ...
through an endowment in his will. Not much is known about Lawrence Sheriff's early life, but it thought that he was born either in a (now long vanished) house opposite
St Andrew's Church
St Andrew's Church
in
Rugby, Warwickshire Rugby is a market town in eastern Warwickshire, England, close to the River Avon, Warwickshire, River Avon. In 2020 its population was estimated at 77,285, making it the List of Warwickshire towns by population, second-largest town in Warwickshir ...
, or in an extant house in the nearby village of
Brownsover Brownsover is a residential and commercial area of Rugby, Warwickshire in England, about miles north of the town centre. The area is named after the original hamlet (place), hamlet of Brownsover. Since 1960, the area has been subsumed by the exp ...
. His father was a
yeoman Yeoman was first documented in mid-14th-century England, referring to the middle ranks of servants in an English royal or noble household. Yeomanry Yeomanry is a designation used by a number of units or sub-units of the British British m ...

yeoman
farmer, and probably one of the most important people in Rugby at the time. His date of birth is not known with certainty, but is believed to have been either 1515 or 1516. Sheriff likely received a basic education from the monks of
Pipewell Pipewell is situated in North Northamptonshire, a mile away from Corby. With 63 inhabitants, it is one of the smallest hamlet (place), hamlets in Northamptonshire. The population remained less than 100 at the 2011 Census and the population was i ...
who had a small grange in Rugby at the time. He was apprenticed by his father, to a London grocer named William Walcott, at which point he went to
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London
. His seven-year apprenticeship ended in 1541, after which he became a London grocer during the reign of King
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
. In 1554 he was elected to the London
livery company There are 110 livery companies, comprising London's ancient and modern trade association A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and ...
the '
Worshipful Company of Grocers The Worshipful Company of Grocers is one of the 110 Livery Companies There are 110 livery companies, comprising London's ancient and modern trade association A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business associ ...
'. Sheriff became a highly successful grocer to many of the rich and powerful of the day including Princess (later Queen from 1558) Elizabeth. Sheriff provided "spices and necessaries" to Princess Elizabeth when she was living in exile at
Hatfield House Hatfield House is a country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed them to ...

Hatfield House
. Sheriff remained unwaveringly loyal to her during this difficult period, and in 1559 following her accession he was granted a
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...
produced by Herald's College with the Queen's approval, the main feature of which is a
griffin The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speaker ...

griffin
, the traditional guardian of treasures. In the New Year's Gift list for 1562 there was a record of an exchange of gifts between Sheriff and the Queen; he gave her "a sugar loaf, a box of ginger, a box of nutmegs and a pound of cinnamon", she in return gave him "one gilt salt with a cover (weighing 7 oz.)". Throughout his life he bought extensive property in the areas of Rugby, Brownsover and London, including the estate of Conduit Close in
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Middlesex
. He became a wealthy merchant, and married a woman called Elizabeth but was not known to have had any children. In 1566 he was elected as the Vice-Warden of the Grocers Company, but the following year he became ill and died in September 1567. In his last few months he drew up a will which stipulated that his fortune should be used to found
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almshouses
and a school "to serve chiefly for the children of Rugby and Brownsover... and next for such as be of other places hereunto adjoyneing.". Shortly before his death, Sheriff added a
codicil Codicil may refer to: * Codicil (will), subsequent change or modification of terms made and appended to an existing trust or will and testament * A modification of terms made and appended to an existing constitution, treaty, or standard form cont ...
to his will reducing the amount of money he left to the school, but instead leaving his eight acre Conduit Close estate: At the time this estate was undeveloped farmland on the edge of London, however, in time this endowment made Rugby School a wealthy institution due to the subsequent development of the area and rise in land values. The area of the estate includes much of what is now
Great Ormond Street Great Ormond Street Hospital (informally GOSH or Great Ormond Street, formerly the Hospital for Sick Children) is a children's hospital A children's hospital is a hospital A hospital is a health care Healthcare is the maintenan ...
,
Lamb's Conduit Street Lamb's Conduit Street is a street in Bloomsbury in the West End of London, West End of London. There are many independent traders along the street. The street is named after William Lambe, in recognition of the £1,500 he gave for the rebuilding ...
and
Rugby Street Rugby Street, formerly known as Chapel Street, is a street in the Bloomsbury district of the London Borough of Camden. It was built between around 1700 and 1721 on land that was given to Rugby School in Warwickshire and now forms part of London's Ru ...
in the London district of
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Bloomsbury
. This endowment was not fully realized, however, for some time, due to a challenge over the provisions of the will from the Howkins family, to whom Sheriff was related through his sister, Bridget. He requested to be buried at parish church of St Andrew's Church in Rugby, where his parents were buried, but this request was not carried out, and instead he was buried at
Christ Church Greyfriars Christ Church Greyfriars, also known as Christ Church Newgate Street, was a church in Newgate Street, opposite St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. Established as a monastic church in the thirteenth century, it became a parish church after t ...

Christ Church Greyfriars
in Newgate in London. However no trace remains: the church and all its monuments were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. He is remembered today by the Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby. Both
Rugby School Rugby School is a public school (English independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, a ...
and the Lawrence Sheriff School use versions of the coat of arms granted to Lawrence Sheriff in 1559.


References

*''Rugby, Aspects Of The Past'' (1975) – Rugby Local History Group (pages 68–71) *''Rugby Growth Of A Town'' (1988) – Andy Osbourne, Eddy Rawlins (pages 16–17) {{DEFAULTSORT:Sheriff, Lawrence 1510s births 1567 deaths Founders of English schools and colleges People from Rugby, Warwickshire 16th-century English educators British grocers Rugby School 16th-century merchants