Dick Whittington character jug produced by Titian Studio of Auckland, New Zealand, circa 1960. Dick Whittington and His Cat is the English folklore surrounding the real-life Richard Whittington (1354 - 1423), wealthy merchant and later Lord Mayor of London. The legend describes his rise from poverty-stricken childhood with the fortune he made through the sale of his cat to a rat-infested country. However, the real Whittington did not come from a poor family of common stock, and there is no compelling evidence supporting the stories about the cat, or even whether he owned one. Another element in the legend is that Dick attempted to flee his service as a scullion one night, heading towards home (or reached Highgate Hill in later tradition), but was dissuaded by the sound of Bow bells, which promised he would be mayor of London one day. Since the pre-Victorian era, the story has been a favorite subject of British pantomime, especially during Christmas season. A tree limb forms the handle of the jug.