CATER, John (1672-1734), of Kempston Hall, Beds.

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



1710 - 1715
19 July 1715 - 1722

Family and Education

b. 1672, 1st s. of Samuel Cater of Kempston Hall and Harrold, sheriff of Beds. 1689–90, by Anne, da. of John Kendall of Bassingbourn, Cambs.  educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1689.  m. 10 July 1694, Mary (d. 1718), da. of Sir Thomas Middleton*, sis. of Thomas Middleton*, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. d.v.psuc. fa. 1704.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Bedford 1707.2


Cater was descended from William Cater, the offspring of a younger son of a Leicestershire gentleman, who purchased an estate at Kempston, just outside Bedford, in about 1624 and served as sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1630–1. Little is known of the family’s participation in politics prior to 1705, when Cater himself appears as voting for the two Whig candidates, Sir William Gostwick, 4th Bt.*, and (Lord) Edward Russell* in the Bedfordshire election. However, his father’s exclusion from the county commission of the peace in 1687–8, appointment as sheriff before the general election of 1690, and support for the Bedford interest in the 1698 county election strongly suggest Whig sympathies. In his debut as a parliamentary candidate, for Bedford in 1710, Cater topped the poll, but his first reward was to be struck off as a j.p. in Surrey as part of the new ministry’s purge of the local commissions. He was kept on for Bedfordshire, however, where he was a stalwart of the bench. After a three-week leave of absence granted on 6 Mar. 1711, he told on 28 Apr. against a Tory motion of censure on the previous Treasury commissioners for failing to compel the imprest accountants to pass their accounts. His inclusion in the list of ‘worthy patriots’ who in this session exposed the mismanagements of the old ministry must therefore be an error. He subsequently voted on 7 Dec. 1711 in favour of the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion, and on 18 June 1713 against the French commerce bill, as a Whig. In the 1713 general election he retained his seat for Bedford while failing in a simultaneous candidature for knight of the shire on the Whig interest. Having voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele, he was a teller twice this session on election cases: on 20 Apr. against John Burgh* on the Brackley petition; and on 25 May in favour of a motion, arising from the debate on the Southwark election, that Quakers making their solemn affirmation instead of taking the oath of abjuration were entitled to vote. He was marked in the Worsley list as a Whig.3

Seated on petition in 1715, Cater proved himself a solid supporter of administration during this Parliament but did not seek re-election. He died on 16 Mar. 1734. The death of his one surviving son within two years meant that the estate passed to a brother-in-law, Robert Kendall, an alderman of London, who changed his name to Cater.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. F. A. Blaydes, Genealogia Bedfordiensis, 164, 403; Beds. N. and Q. ii. 215; C. R. Parrott, All Saints Par. Ch. Kempston, 25–26; Beds. Par. Reg. xxxix. 19, 81–83, 85, 87.
  • 2. Bedford Bor. Council, Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, corp. act. bk. 1688–1718, f. 91.
  • 3. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 89–90; VCH Beds. iii. 300–1; Beds. RO, OR 1823, Beds. Pollbk. 1705; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 57; Add. 29599, f. 119; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 207; J. Godber, Hist. Beds. 370.
  • 4. VCH Beds. 301; Gent. Mag. 1734, p. 164; 1736, p. 55.