RichardDick, 1358?–1423, English merchant and philanthropist: Lord Mayor of London 1398, 1406–07, 1419–20.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for dick whittington
Richard, known as Dick. died 1423, English merchant, three times mayor of London. According to legend, he walked to London at the age of 13 with his cat and was prevented from leaving again only by the call of the church bells
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for dick whittington
The story is an old one, told under other names throughout Europe, of a poor boy who sends a cat he had bought for a penny as his stake in a trading voyage; the captain sells it on his behalf for a fortune to a foreign king whose palace is overrun by rats. The hero devotes part of his windfall to charity, which may be why the legend attached in England since 16c. to Sir Richard Whittington (d.1423), three times Lord Mayor of London, who died childless and devoted large sums in his will to churches, almshouses, and St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper