CATOR, John (1728-1806), of Bank Side, Southwark, Surr. and Beckenham, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



27 Jan. 1772 - 1780
3 Apr. - 18 June 1784
1790 - 22 Feb. 1793

Family and Education

b. 21 Mar. 1728, 1st s. of John Cator, Quaker timber merchant, of Southwark, and Ross, Herefs. by Mary, da. of John Brough. m. 1753, Mary, da. of Peter Collinson, Quaker and FSA, of Ridgeway House, Mill Hill, Mdx., s.p.s. suc. fa. 1763.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Kent 1781-2.


Cator, a wealthy timber merchant, had shown in the past that he would stop at nothing to get a seat in Parliament. Unseated in 1784, he had failed to find another. In 1788 he began negotiations to secure his return for the venal borough of Stock-bridge. It cost him £7,000, of which he recovered £4,000 by selling the other seat to John Scott. But there was a double return and, after the corruption had been exposed, Cator and Scott were ousted by their opponents, 22 Feb. 1793. It was his last election venture.1

Cator, like his colleague, was well disposed to Pitt’s administration and his support was sought for the ministerial party in the Kent county election of 1790.2 He was a friend of Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool, though his character is best known through his friendship with the Thrale family. In the House he voted against Pitt on Oczakov, 12 Apr. 1791, like his colleague, though whether swayed by the latter’s motive is not clear. On 30 Mar. 1792 he urged Pitt to provide for the repayment of government loans in a limited time: ‘The remboursement, he said, had been the ruin of France’. He objected to the wine licences bill because it put licensees’ widows to the expense of a new licence, 24 Apr. 1792.3 On 11 May he called Burke to order for straying into French affairs in the debate on the disabling statutes against religious dissenters’his own background was Quaker. He had not, however, been a positive supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. He failed to persuade Pitt to meet the cost of the Westminster police establishment bill out of the civil list, 14 May 1792.

Out of the House, Cator, a tax commissioner for Surrey, volunteered his services for land tax redemption in the Croydon district.4 An East India Company stockholder, he died ‘very rich’, 21 Feb. 1806.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Brian Murphy


  • 2. Add. 38458, f. 165.
  • 3. Senator, v. 645.
  • 4. Add. 38232, f. 241; 38310, ff. 63, 95, 96, 184, 241; 38471, f. 15; 38472, f. 33.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1806), i. 285.