Thomas Aldersey was born in Bunbury, Cheshire in 1521. His father, John Aldersey of Aldersey Hall, was a landowner from Spurstow, Cheshire. Several members of the extended Aldersey family had become prominent in Chester through the 16th Century. Thomas Aldersey was the second of several sons of his parents. He was educated in Bunbury himself, possibly at a ‘school’ held in what is now the Chantry House in the town.
Due to his father’s social aspirations, Aldersey was apprenticed to the London merchant Thomas Bingham in 1541 and he was clothed with the livery of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers on 13th July 1548. On joining the Company Thomas became a close friend of William Jones, who was to become another educational benefactor of the Company.
Aldersey was a puritan by faith. He was also an English merchant, a Haberdasher Company Liveryman, Member of Parliament and a philanthropist. A contemporary description of him placed him among the "wisest and best merchants in London", and he was particularly renowned amongst his protestant peers for his efforts to set the ‘puritan’ emigre colony of Emden in Germany on a secure trade footing.
Aldersey’s principal charitable work for the Haberdashers' Company was the establishment of a free grammar school at his birthplace of Bunbury in 1575 which was incorporated on 2nd January 1594 as The Free Grammar School of Thomas Aldersey in Bunbury. It is now a primary school, Bunbury Aldersey School. It is difficult to be exact as records are incomplete, but it is estimated that some 7,000 pupils in Cheshire have received the benefit of a Haberdashers’ education.
In addition to his educational initiatives, he endowed a preacher and a curate in Bunbury, which became the first ecclesiastical living to come under the control of the Company.
More broadly, it is noteworthy that Aldersey had nurtured a long standing interest in educational charitable work, serving as one of the City of London’s collectors for donations to poor scholars located within Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the 1570s.
Artist - Unknown Artist. English school late 16th or early 17th century.
This spirit of philanthropy continues at the Company today. Members regularly support the charitable endeavours of the Haberdashers’ Foundation in order that the Company increases the impact of its work with schools, churches and communities. If you would like the opportunity to be part of the Company’s philanthropy, the giving page is here. Thank you.