PATERSON, John (?1705-89), of Epping, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 1768

Family and Education

b. ?1705, s. of Lt.-Col. Alexander Paterson (2nd s. of Rt. Rev. John Paterson, abp. of Glasgow).  m. 15 Oct. 1761, Mrs. Hope, ‘with £30,000’.

Offices Held

Page to Earl of Stair as ambassador to France 1715; settled in London; clerk to Barber Surgeons Co. 1745-65, warden 1775, master 1776; city solicitor, res. bef. 1750; common councillor London 1759-71; chairman of ways and means Feb. 1765-8; clerk to commissioners of the land tax for London 1772- d.1


Paterson is mentioned as working for Henry Fox at the Windsor by-election of November 1755; is described by Horace Walpole as ‘an agent of Fox’; and acted as his solicitor.2 He was also solicitor to Shelburne (having first served his father and great-uncle), and remained a rather humble dependant of his. When Shelburne was highly dissatisfied with his handling of some business, Paterson replied, 30 Jan. 1762: ‘I am ashamed that at my time of life, after having so long maintained an unblemished character, I should be under a necessity of producing any proofs of what I have asserted.’ And he concluded:

Having offered what occurs to me for my justification I must rest it upon your Lordship’s judgment and candour how far I have justly incurred your Lordship’s resentment. If your Lordship decides in my favour I hope I shall have the honour of continuing in your Lordship’s service, which, as I propose to lay aside many other affairs, I shall attend to with as much diligence as is in my power.3

In 1761 Paterson, as one of the court party, opposed in the common council of the City of London the proposal to petition the King to vest the commission of lieutenancy in them; and, in October 1761, after having first moved an address of thanks to the King for having rewarded Pitt, he opposed a resolution thanking Pitt and instructing the City Members, but was defeated by 109 votes to 15.

In March 1761, at Bute’s and Fox’s request, George Selwyn returned Paterson for his pocket borough of Ludgershall.4 ‘Allow me to hope’, wrote Paterson to Bute on 7 Apr.,5 ‘that your Lordship will from time to time instruct me how I may do most service to my King and country, and thereby best deserve your Lordship’s approbation and protection.’ In the House Paterson was consequently a regular supporter of Bute and Grenville. He was occasionally thought of for office; thus by Fox, in December 1762, for solicitor to the Treasury6 and by Grenville in July 1764.7 On 15 Feb. 1765 he was proposed by Administration for chairman of the committee of ways and means, defeating Charles Whitworth by 165 votes to 84, and henceforth had £500 p.a. from secret service funds as stipend. Only one speech of his is reported, on 2 Feb. 1762, in the debate about abolishing the toll on London Bridge. In the summer of 1765 Rockingham listed him as ‘pro’, and he did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act. He next adhered to the Chatham Administration, and voted with them on the nullum tempus bill. In 1768 he stood for the City of London, but was defeated. After Beckford’s death, Whately wrote to Grenville, 23 June 1770: ‘The ministry thought of Paterson, but I doubt whether they will push it.’8 And the same day, James Townsend to Chatham: ‘Paterson who intended to start is deterred.’9 He did not stand again for Parliament.

Paterson was more successful in his non-political activities. On 22 Jan. 1767 he presented to common council a plan for raising £282,000 for public improvements in the City, ‘and received the thanks of the court for his zealous attention to promote the convenience, ornament, and emolument of the City’.10 And in his obituary note the Gentleman’s Magazine (1789, pp. 1154-5) wrote that to him, ‘among a variety of other conveniences, the public are indebted for Blackfriars bridge, the widening of old streets, and the introduction of new ones, and many regulations tending to preserve the safety of passengers, to secure the quiet, and promote the trade and commerce, of the City of London’.

He died 3 Dec. 1789 in his 85th year.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1761, p. 536; 1789, pp. 1154, 1208; S. Young, Annals of Barber Surgeons.
  • 2. Apology for Life of Geo. Anne Bellamy , ii. 88-89; Mems. Geo. III, i. 66; Ilchester, Letters to Hen. Fox, 202-3.
  • 3. Lansdowne mss.
  • 4. Fitzmaurice to Bute, 15 Mar. 1761, Bute mss; Letters to Hen. Fox, 145.
  • 5. Bute mss.
  • 6. Add. 40758, f. 279.
  • 7. Grenville to C. Jenkinson, 2 July 1764, Grenville letter bk.
  • 8. Grenville Pprs. iv. 520.
  • 9. Chatham mss.
  • 10. Gent. Mag. 1767, p. 45.