CAGE, William (1665/6-1738), of Milgate, Bearsted, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1702 - 1705
1710 - 1715

Family and Education

bap. 28 Mar. 1665/6, o. s. of William Cage (d.v.p. 1676, 1st s. of William Cage of Milgate) of Hollingbourne, Kent by Cicely, da. and h. of Sir Cheney Culpeper (d. 1663) of Hollingbourne.  m. bef. 1690, Catherine, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.).  suc. gdfa. at Milgate 1677.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Kent 1694–5; freeman Rochester, 1702.2


Rather surprisingly for someone from a family dominated by lawyers, Cage did not follow his grandfather and father to an inn of court or university. The will of his grandfather, William Cage of Milgate, left the care of the records securing his grandson’s estate with his cousin, Katharine Harlockenden, presumably trusting her more than his two younger sons and cousins. From the point at which he inherited his grandfather’s estates, Cage’s life remains obscure until he took on the shrievalty in December 1694. He was dismissed from the justices’ bench in December 1695 and arrested the following February, presumably on suspicion of disloyalty to the regime. Rehabilitation must have occurred fairly quickly, as before the accession of Anne he was a deputy-lieutenant and militia colonel.3 Nevertheless, Cage’s doubtful loyalty provided ammunition for electoral opponents when he stood for Parliament in December 1701. Printed tracts appeared accusing him of speaking ‘very slighting words of King William and his government and said there would be an alteration of the government in a little time’. Although this was probably effective as propaganda, since Cage lost the contest at Rochester, a report by the attorney-general, Sir Edward Northey*, found the evidence too flimsy to warrant a prosecution. In the absence of such tactics Cage was duly returned in 1702. He was not an active member, being given leave for three weeks on 23 Jan. 1703. However, he was recorded as voting on 13 Feb. against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. He voted for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704. No doubt it was his stance on the question of occasional conformity which explains Lord Halifax’s (Charles Montagu*) description of him after his election defeat in 1705 as a ‘violent man’.4

After a five-year absence Cage was re-elected to Parliament in the Tory landslide of 1710. Unfamiliarity may explain the uncertainty shown by the compiler of the ‘Hanover list’ as to his party affiliation. Any doubts must have been dispelled quickly, for Cage was among those named as ‘worthy’ patriots in the 1710–11 session for helping detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was granted a leave of ten days on 29 Mar. 1711. An October Club member, he voted on 18 June 1713 for the French commerce bill. Returned again in 1713, he was classed as a Tory on the Worsley list. His only nomination to a drafting committee occurred on 9 Mar. 1714, to the bill curbing wool smuggling. The death of Queen Anne and the subsequent reversal in Tory fortunes saw Cage decline to contest the 1715 election. Hence he began a long retirement from politics which only ended with his death on 21 Jan. 1738. His will left the family estates in Kent and Hampshire to his grandson, Lewis, while most of those properties purchased in his lifetime went to his son John.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, Kent (gives 28 Mar. 1665 and 1666); Berry, Kent Gens. 273.
  • 2. Info. from Medway Area Archs.
  • 3. PCC 47 Hale; info. from Prof. N. Landau; HMC Downshire, i. 626; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 251.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1700–2, pp. 454–5; [H]ail the Enemies of the King . . . that appear on the Behalf of Colonel Cage; Add. 61458, f. 159.
  • 5. Add. 5443, f. 202; PCC 31 Brodrepp.