Thomas de la Rue (24 March 1793 – 7 June 1866) was a printer from Guernsey who founded De La Rue plc, a printing company which is now the world's largest commercial security printer and papermaker.

Thomas de la Rue
Thomas de la Rue.jpg
Born24 March 1793
Forest, Guernsey, Channel Islands
Died7 June 1866 (1866-06-08) (aged 73)
Spouse(s)Jane Warren
RelativesWarren de la Rue
William Grantham
Alexander Grantham


Born in Le Bourg, Forest in Guernsey to Eleazar de la Rue and Rachael de la Rue, maiden name Rachael Allez. Thomas was the seventh of their nine children.[1][2] Thomas de la Rue was apprenticed to a master-printer, Joseph Antoine Chevalier in St Peter Port in 1803.[3][1]

He went into business with Tom Greenslade and together they launched the newspaper Le Publiciste. Having fallen out with Greenslade, Thomas de la Rue launched his own publication, Le Miroir politique, first published on 6 February 1813.[3][4]

In 1816 he left Guernsey, for London, where he initially established a business making straw hats.[3] Then in 1830 together with Samuel Cornish and William Rock he founded a business of "cardmakers, hot pressers and enamellers".[3] in 1831, de la Rue was granted the right to print playing cards, making it the first company to do so; it printed its first pack the following year. Soon afterwards, Thomas hired Owen Jones, a well-known designer and architect.[5] By 1837 his wife, his two sons William Frederick and Warren De la Rue and his eldest daughter were involved in the business.[3] In 1855 Thomas was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.[3]. However, there is no mention of Thomas de la Rue in the Base Léonore (the French Legion of Honour database)[6] which has a copious entry on Warren, but nothing on Thomas. In 1858, he retired from De La Rue, handing over the management of the business to his sons.

Thomas de la Rue died in London in 1866.[3]


He married Jane Warren (17 June 1789 – 22 September 1858) on 21 March 1816.[3] He had six daughters and two sons: Mary, Elizabeth, Georgiana, Louisa, Jane, Warren and William.


The Guernsey Post Office has issued two sets of postage stamps commemorating his life and achievements, in 1971 and 1993.

There is a pub in the Pollet, St Peter Port, Guernsey, named after him.

The States of Guernsey issued a commemorative one-pound note in July 2013, to mark 200 years since the first commercial venture of Thomas De La Rue. The note is in circulation alongside the standard one-pound note, differing in the portrait of De La Rue on the reverse and a TDLR letter prefix.[7]


  1. ^ a b Wintle, Adam. "De La Rue". The World of Playing Cards. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^ "'Forest boy' Thomas de la Rue honoured". Guernsey Press. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Thomas de la Rue at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. ^ "Le Publiciste: Thomas de la Rue and Mr Greenslade fall out, 1813". Priaulx Library. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. ^ Thomas de la Rue at
  6. ^ Accessed on 28/05/2019.
  7. ^ "Commemorative £1 note". States of Guernsey. Retrieved 5 July 2013.

Further readingEdit

  • Houseman, Lorna, The House That Thomas Built: the Story of De La Rue, Chatto & Windus (1968) ISBN 0-7011-1343-X
  • Marr, L. James, Guernsey People, Phillimore (1984) ISBN 0-85033-529-9

External linksEdit