Thomas Guy 1644 – 1724
Tamworth’s famous ‘incomparable benefactor’ is responsible for two of the town’s most historic buildings, the Almshouses and the Town hall.
He was born in 1644 in Southwark, South-East London. His Father, Thomas Guy Senior, was a lighterman, coalmonger and carpenter with a wharf on the banks of the River Thames. His mother, Ann Vaughton, originally from Tamworth.
In 1652, Guy’s father died suddenly, Now aged 8 years old, Thomas Guy is the eldest of three children. His mother returned the family to her home town of Tamworth. Thomas was educated at Tamworth’s Free Grammar School that used to stand on Lower Gungate.
At the age of 16 in 1660, Guy was apprenticed to John Clark, a bookbinder in London. Completing his 8 year apprenticeship in 1668, Guy set up business as a bookseller and publisher. He obtains contracts to publish bibles for Oxford University and quickly becomes a successful and wealthy businessman.
In 1677, Guy pays for the refurbishment of Tamworth’s Free Grammar School that he had himself attended as a child. He laso gave a generous donation towards the building of the Spinning School, after which Spinning School Lane is named. In 1678 Guy purchased land opposite the Grammar School and built 7 Almshouses for 7 poor women. In 1701 he funds the building of the Town Hall.
Guy stood for election to parliament as MP for Tamworth in 1690 but was defeated. he stood again in 1695 and succeeded. He served the town as MP until 1707, when the people of Tamworth failed to re-elect him. Angry at the town’s ingratitude for his generosity, he threatened to demolish the Town hall and bans the people of Tamworth from his Almshouses.
Rejecting Tamworth, he turned his attention back to London where he personally financed the building of Guy’s Hospital, Southwark, in 1722 at a cost of £18,793.16 shillings.
Guy died at home on 27th December, 1724 after visiting the Hospital building site, he never got to see the project completed. he never married and in his will he left £219,499 to Guy’s Hospital, which opened in 1725. Much of Guy’s charitable generosity did not become known until after his death.