"We're used to thinking of today's crop of ultra-rich individuals - Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Ingvar Kamprad, Lakshmi Mittal - as being the wealthiest people ever to draw breath. And - thanks to the post industrial-revolution phenomenon of inflation, they are, in strictly numerical terms at least. But how, in real terms, would they stack up against the richest people in history? It's a terrific pub-debate question that MT contributing editor and wealth-watcher extraordinaire Philip Beresford sets out to answer in his new book The Richest of the Rich - the wealthiest 250 people in Britain since 1066, published next week by Harriman House. Working with historian William D Rubinstein, Beresford has identified a little-known French immigrant and nephew of William the Conqueror as the wealthiest Brit ever. Alan Rufus was, he estimates, worth a cool £81bn at current money values at the time of his death over 900 years ago."