Royalist army officer and merchant Bernard Gascoigne was born Bernardo Guasconi in Florence in April/May 1614. Having started his military career as one of the men-at-arms in the service of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, he went to France in 1642 but soon joined the Royalists in the English civil war. Gascoigne was in command of one of the regiments of horse which took possession of Colchester on 12 June 1648.
After a long siege he then surrendered to Thomas Fairfax on 28 August. He was condemned to be shot on the following day, but was reprieved due to Fairfax’s desire to maintain relations with Tuscany. He left the country in January 1649 and built a successful mercantile operation during the 1650s. He returned to England after the restoration of Charles II.
The outbreak of Anglo-Dutch war in 1664 created a problem for Florentine merchants. Although on close terms with the English, their trading interests were intimately linked to the Low Countries. Gascoigne had two cousins in Amsterdam who ran a banking house. He withdrew from England for the duration of the war and based himself in Tuscany. He died at his Haymarket home in January 1687.