Merchant Strangers' Company
A company to encourage and regulate foreign merchants in London
"In 1283, the first mention occurs of legal encouragement given by act of Parliament to foreign merchants, then called called "Merchants' Strangers,' who, excepting always those at the Steelyard, till now met with many discouragements from the jealousy borne towards foreigners so little was the true interest of he public understood. These merchants were chiefly Lombards, and other merchants of Italy, viz. of Genoa, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Venice, who then supplied all the rest of Christendom, westward, with Indian and Arabian spices and drugs, as well as with their own fine manufactures of silks and stuffs, and with the wines and fruits of Italy. The Italian merchants styled Lombards, who resorted to England, became likewise great remark, lenders of money, both to the king and nobles: and though, from narrow views, opposed by the people, furnished its best sinews to trade, as do now their successors on the same spot of residence -- the bankers of Lombard-street."