CUTLER, Sir John, 1st Bt. (1607-93), of Tothill Street, Westminster
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Family and Education
b. c.1607, 2nd s. of Edward Cutler, Salter, of London by Jane. m. (1) 11 Aug. 1642, Elizabeth (d. 1650), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Foote†, 1st Bt., ld. mayor of London 1649–50, 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 27 July 1669, Elicia (d. 1685), da. of Sir Thomas Tipping of Wheatfield, Oxon., sis. of Thomas Tipping*, 1da. suc. bro. 1630; kntd. 17 June 1660; cr. Bt. 12 Nov. 1660.1
Freeman, Grocers’ Co. 1633, asst. 1632–d., warden of the bachelors of the Co., 1640–1, livery, 1649, master, 1652–3, 1685–6, 1688–9, dep.-master, 1691–2; alderman, London 2–5 Aug. 1651, common councilman 1654–5, 1658–9, 1661–2; jt. receiver-gen. Notts. and Derbys. Dec. 1660–75; receiver contributions for rebuilding St. Paul’s; sheriff, Kent 1675–6; commr. for recusants, Mdx. 1675.2
A self-made man, Cutler was a byword for avarice in the 18th century and his thrifty habits became the source of endless, probably apocryphal, anecdotes. Contemporary comment, however, is sparse and his background remains almost completely unknown. His father is traditionally said to have been one Thomas Cutler, also a Grocer, but contemporary sources do not support this connexion. The wills of this family show that neither Thomas Cutler of the Grocers’ Company (father and son) had a son John living of the right age. Cutler’s father can now be identified as Edward Cutler, Salter, who died in 1613 while his children were still under age, leaving his meagre estate to be inherited by his wife, two sons, Robert and John, and four daughters. Robert died in 1630, leaving his estate at Bradwell, Essex, to his brother.3
By this time Cutler was an apprentice Grocer, and beginning to cultivate the connexions which no doubt contributed to his increasing fortune. By 1657 he was rich enough to offer the indebted 2nd Earl of Strafford a mortgage of £5,000 on his estates in Yorkshire. He then apparently reneged on this offer and combined with his brother-in-law Sir John Lewis, 1st Bt., to offer to buy the lands outright instead, for a total of about £28,000. The aggrieved Strafford, who was reluctantly forced to accept, wrote that this was all ‘to their own base ends . . . here are fine honest people’.4
Cutler supported the Restoration with a loan of £5,000 for which he was rewarded with a baronetcy and government office. He became a public figure during the Restoration, disbursing large sums on public works and the rebuilding of the Grocers’ Hall after the Great Fire. Although difficulties arose in some of his other public benefactions, Cutler did not fail to look after the members of his family, particularly the Boulters, children of his youngest sister, Susanna. Cutler had business connexions in common with his nephew Edmund Boulter*, a wholesale grocer, in the 1660s and he may have helped Boulter set up in business.5
A brief spell in Parliament did not affect Cutler’s success in business and in 1686 he bought the estate of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, from Sir Thomas Chicheley†, another Grocer. He returned to Parliament in the Convention for Bodmin on the interest of his other son-in-law, the 2nd Earl of Radnor (Charles Bodvile Robartes†), and, being appointed deputy-lieutenant for Middlesex in April 1689, became active against popish adherents of the exiled King James.6
Elected unopposed for the same seat in 1690, Cutler was appointed to the Tory-dominated London lieutenancy commission in March and was classed in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) list of the new Parliament as a Tory and probable Court supporter. He was further classified in a list of December 1690, as a likely supporter of Carmarthen, and Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691 queried him as a Court supporter. In January 1691 ‘Mr Foley’s’ scheme for a collection from MPs for the relief of Irish and French Protestants failed when he suggested Cutler be joined with him in advancing the money until the next session. Foley’s naming of one of the richest men in the Commons, who might presumably be prevailed on to advance all of the money (£2,000), ‘put the House into a laughter and so it went off for the present’. On 29 Dec. 1691 a suit between John, Lord de la Warr and Cutler over a debt of some £35,000 which the latter claimed de la Warr’s father had owed him, reached the Commons, when a petition from de la Warr against Cutler’s claim of privilege was heard and resolved in the former’s favour. A counter-petition from Cutler was presented on the same day, and considered on 6 Feb. 1692 when it was ordered to lie on the table. De la Warr’s petition had stressed the urgency of the case, because of Cutler’s great age, and his fears proved well founded – shortly after making a loan of £2,000 to the government on the borrowing clauses of the poll tax in November, Cutler fell seriously ill. He died the following year on 15 Apr., aged 85, and was buried in St. Margaret’s Westminster. The expected bonanza of charitable bequests did not materialize and, apart from £1,000 to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, his wealth, altogether said to be worth in the region of £300,000, was largely distributed among his relations. The main beneficiaries were Cutler’s surviving daughter and son-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Radnor, and his nephew, Edmund Boulter.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Sonya Wynne
- 1. Stepney Mar. Reg. ed. Ferguson, ii. 28, 136; St. Margaret’s Westminster (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxiv), 116.
- 2. Guildhall Lib. mss 11592A, unfol.; Calendar of Grocers’ Co. Ct. Mins. 1616–92, iii, iv, v, passim.; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 55; CSP. Dom. 1660–1, p. 429; 1663–4, p. 115; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 78; iv. 696; v. 350.
- 3. J. B. Heath, Grocers’ Co. 298–307; DNB; St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. Reg. ix), 50; PCC 78 Bolein, 36 Wingfield, 7 Barrington, 119 Capell, 64 Scroope; Guildhall Lib. mic. 9171/21, f. 383.
- 4. V. Pearl, Puritan Revol. 315; C2/CHAS1/C45/61; HMC Var. ii. 378.
- 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 79; Pepys Diary ed. Latham, iv. 430; DNB; PCC 90 Carr.
- 6. HMC 13th Rep. VI, 22; VCH Cambs. v. 265; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 53–54.
- 7. CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 488; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/5, John Pulteney* to Thomas Coningsby*, 2 Jan. 1691; CJ, x. 723; Add. 34096, ff. 334, 341, 347; Bodl. Carte 233, f. 97; Bodl. Tanner mss 25, f. 35; Harley mss at Brampton Bryan, bdle. 117, Robert Harley to [–], 18, 25 Apr. 1693; HMC Ancaster, 433.