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.
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 17 December 1724. His will left £219,499 to the Guy's Hospital. He also gave an annuity of £400 to Christ's Hospital, which at that time was in London. In his will, he bequeathed financial support for the releasing and discharging of poor prisoners for debt out of prisons in London, Middlesex and Surrey and made various provisions for the homeless as well as sick. The rest of his estate went to cousins, friends and more distant relatives or acquaintances, many of whom were left up to £1,000 each.
The will had been signed and sealed in the presence of a John Oldfield, William Pepys, John Adlam and Samuel Adlam.
In 1995, 271 years after his death, a new dual carriageway by-passing Tamworth was named Thomas Guy Way in his honour.
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THOMAS GUY (1644-1724), founder of Guy's Hospital, London, was the son of a lighterman and coal-dealer at Southwark. After serving an apprenticeship of eight years with a bookseller, he in 1668 began business on his own account. He dealt largely in Bibles, which had for many years been poorly and incorrectly printed in England. These he at first imported from Holland, but subsequently obtained from the university of Oxford the privilege of printing. Thus, and by an extremely thrifty mode of life, and more particularly by investment in government securities, the subscription of these into the South Sea Company, and the subsequent sale of his stock in 1720, he became master of an immense fortune. He died unmarried on the 17th of December 1724. In 1707 he built three wards of St Thomas's Hospital, which institution he otherwise subsequently benefited; and at a cost of £18,793, 16s. he erected Guy's Hospital, leaving for its endowment £219,499; he also endowed Christ's Hospital with £400 a year, and in 1678 endowed almshouses at Tamworth, his mother's birthplace, which was represented by him in parliament from 1695 to 1707. The residue of his estate, which went to distant relatives, amounted to about £80,000.
See A True Copy of the Last Will and Testament of Thomas Guy, Esq. (London, 1725); J. Noorthouck, A New Hist. of London, bk. iii. ch. i. p. 684 (1773); Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, iii. 599 (1812); Charles Knight, Shadows of the Old Booksellers, pp. 3-23 (1865); and A Biographical History of Guy's Hospital, by S. Wilkes and G. T. Bettany (1892).