PATTESON, John (1755-1833), of Surrey Street, Norwich, Norf.

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



1802 - 1806
1806 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 19 Nov. 1755, 1st s. of Henry Sparke Patteson, brewer, of Norwich by Martha, da. of Alderman Daniel Fromanteel of Norwich. educ. Dr Burney’s, Greenwich; Leipzig 1768. m. 1781, Jane, da. of Robert Staniforth of Manchester, Lancs., niece and h. of William Staniforth (d.1786), 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1764; uncle John Patteson 1774.

Offices Held

Alderman, Norwich 1781-1831, sheriff 1785, mayor 1788.

Capt. Norwich vol. inf. 1797, maj. 1799, lt.-col. 1803-6; lt.-col. commdt. 2 regt. E. Norf. militia 1808.

Pres. Norwich Union Life Insurance Soc. 1815-d.


The Pattesons came to Norwich from Birmingham in the late 17th century; John’s grandfather was an ironmonger who owned a small bank. His father died when he was a boy and it was his uncle John, a prosperous wool stapler, of the firm of Patteson and Iselin, who supervised his education. As a youth he went to Leipzig to learn languages and fit himself for the firm’s foreign correspondence. In 1774 he succeeded to his uncle’s business, which he expanded, and subsequently acquired estates at Colney and Bawburgh and, in the right of his wife, Norton Hall in Suffolk. To provide his eldest son with his own line in business, he bought Greaves’s brewery at Norwich in 1793 and later Postle and Beevor’s, thus forming the nucleus of the thriving Pockthorpe brewery. At the fine house built by his uncle in Surrey Street he entertained in 1801 the Duke of Gloucester, who stood godfather to one of his sons. By then he had long been prominent in the Orange and Purple or ministerialist party on the corporation and in 1797 had promoted the formation of the loyal military association.1

Patteson was ambitious of a seat in Parliament, but not at first hopeful of one at Norwich. About June 1801 he began negotiating the purchase of a borough seat through his friend Lord Hobart. The terms were not to exceed 4,000 guineas; in December 1801 Patteson wavered, but in February 1802, having failed to find another opening through Hobart’s mediation, he settled for 4,000 guineas plus £200 brokerage, guaranteed for six years, less 600 guineas for every year short of that period, with the liberty to substitute his son for £400 if he wished. The seat was for Minehead and the patron John Fownes Luttrell I*. On 29 Apr. 1802, too late, came an offer at Norwich from the Gurneys, leaders of the opposition, who were looking for a candidate acceptable to both sides. Patteson professed an ‘aversion to represent Norwich’ and explained that he already had an opening. To Hobart he wrote:

In fact this city will be my chief place of residence, I carry on large business in it, I live in friendship and harmony with all around me, I may flatter myself on solid ground to enjoy the good opinion of my neighbours, sources of additional joy when things go prosperously, and of relief in those reverses of which I have tasted some of the bitterest drops. My prospects and determination will make them more eager and I shall be somewhat in the situation of a beauty, keeping my wooers at a distance.

Meanwhile Patteson referred his wooers to Charles Harvey* and when the latter could not stand, supported Windham. He himself was returned after a contest at Minehead.2

Like Hobart, Patteson was a friend of Addington’s administration and, as a ‘commercial man of great respectability’, was a watchdog for his own and the Norwich mercantile interest.3 On 2 May 1803 he presented a Norwich weavers’ petition to the House. On 11 June he denied, on behalf of the brewers, that beer was being adulterated by means of opium and on 13 Dec. defended the volunteer bill, claiming from his own experience that it assisted the recruiting service. In the same speech he called on the secretary for War to provide a commission in the army for his second son. On 30 May 1804 he questioned the advisability of abolishing the slave trade unilaterally and on 9 July opposed the Sierra Leone grant. (In 1806 he was listed as ‘adverse’ to abolition.) As a member of the committee on the corn trade, he felt obliged to dissent from its report, 31 May, 20 June 1804, believing that corn prices should be left to find their own level. He tried to postpone the corn bill, 28 June, and presented a Norwich petition against it, 25 July. As he opposed Pitt’s additional force bill in June 1804, it is curious to find him listed Pittite in September; in the case of Melville’s alleged misconduct in the following year, he took the line of voting against the censure, 8 Apr., and for the criminal prosecution, 12 June, and in July was listed Sidmouthite. He objected to any favouritism to Scotland in the corn bill committee, 24, 28 June 1805; opposed the malt duty bill, 4 Feb. 1806, and voted on 30 Apr. for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act. On 19 May he welcomed the tax on private brewers. He led the opposition to the Norwich paving bill, which he maintained the city could not afford, 3 June. On 9 July he found errors of fact in the report on woollen manufactures.

In 1806, in response to the sudden cry for a resident candidate, Patteson offered himself at Norwich; after a canvass, he as suddenly declined, for fear of the expense of a contest; but when his friends of the Orange and Purple interest raised a subscription, he changed his mind and, parading in his aldermanic gown, ‘a novel proceeding’, headed the poll. He had been much commended for his attention to the commercial interests of Norwich. He voted against the Grenville ministry on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807. In 1807 he again stood alone and headed the poll. It had been expected in some quarters that he would make way for a member of the Harvey family, with whom he was no longer on good terms, after differences over the militia: but he stood his ground and was a supporter of the Portland and Perceval administrations. In 1808 he was (as in 1805) a member of the committee on East India Company affairs, renewed for the duration of the Parliament. He moved the adjournment of the debate on the Scheldt expedition, 26 Jan. 1810, voting steadily between then and 30 Mar. with government.4 On 1 Feb. he had spoken on behalf of country banks. The day before, Perceval had nominated him for the finance committee but he was not chosen. He was in the majority against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. He was in the government minority on the Regency question, 1 Jan 1811. He was one of the committee on the cotton trade depression, 5 June. His last known speeches, 13 May and 19 July 1811, were observations on the findings of the bullion committee and on the bank-note bill. In 1812 he voted against abolishing McMahon’s sinecure paymastership, 21 Feb., and against the sinecure offices bill, 4 May.

Patteson lost his seat to Charles Harvey at the election of 1812, though they had made up their differences and coalesced on the eve of the election. He was thenceforth out of Parliament. On 29 July 1814 he informed Lord Hardwicke, in a letter on the Corn Laws:

I am now retired from the great scene of action, not into inactivity as my commercial concerns are considerable and my sons come to a period of life as to require that initiation and leading on which cannot be done by any other so well as myself.

His later years were overshadowed by declining fortune; by 1819 the failure of some of his ventures in wool and of a banking interest, as well as the effects of lavish hospitality, obliged him to sell much of his property, including 208 paintings. His son John Staniforth Patteson accepted liability for his father, who retired first to Mangreen Hall as a pensioner of Norwich corporation and finally to ‘a house next to St. Helen’s vicarage’, where he died, 3 Oct. 1833.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Lawrence Taylor / R. G. Thorne


Sometimes incorrectly written ‘Patterson’ or ‘Pattison’.

  • 1. B. Cozens-Hardy and E. A. Kent, Mayors of Norwich, 140-2; Norf. RO, Colman Lib. mss 17, ‘Events in Norfolk and Norwich 1795-7’.
  • 2. Bucks RO, Hobart mss H 53, 56-58, 60, 93, 94, 96-98; C 338-9, 369, 371.
  • 3. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 422.
  • 4. HMC Fortescue, viii. 398; Fortescue mss, Mrs Atkyns to Grenville, 28 Oct. 1806; Cozens-Hardy, loc. cit.; Colman Lib. mss 632, f. 40; see NORWICH; Geo. III Corresp. v. 4076.
  • 5. Add. 35651, f. 99; Cozens-Hardy, loc. cit.