major nottinghamshire following
CARTWRIGHT, JOHN (1710-1824), known as MAJOR CARTWRIGHT, one of the earliest and most honourable of English parliamentary reformers, was born at Marnham in Nottinghamshire, September 28, 1740. He received his education at Newark grammar school, and at Heath Academy in Yorkshire, and at the age of eighteen entered the navy. He was present, in his first year of service, at the capture of Cherbourg, and served in the following year in the action between Sir Edward Hawke and Admiral Conflans. Engaged afterwards under Sir Hugh Palliser and Admiral Byron on the Newfoundland station, he was appointed to act as chief magistrate of the settlement ; and the duties of this post he discharged with singular uprightness and efficiency for five years. During this period he explored the interior of the island and discovered Lieutenant's Lake. Ill health necessitated his retirement from active service for a time in 1771. When the disputes with the American colonies began, he saw clearly that the colonists had right on their side, and warmly supported their cause. At the beginning of the war he was offered the appointment of first lieutenant to the duke of Cumberland, which would have put him on the path of certain promotion. But he declined to fight against the cause which he felt to be just, and thus nobly renounced the prospects of advancement in his profession. In 1774 he published his first plea on behalf of the colonists, entitled American Independence the Glory and In:crest of Great Britain. In the following year, when the Nottinghamshire Militia was first raised, he was appointed major, and in this capacity he served for seventeen years. Ile was at last illegally superseded, because of his political opinions. In 1776 appeared his first work on reform in Parliament, which, with the exception of Earl Stanhope's pamphlets (1774), appears to have been the earliest publication on the subject. It was entitled, Take your Choice, - a second edition appearing under the new title of The Legislative Rights of the Commonalty vindicated. The task of his life was thenceforth chiefly the attainment of universal suffrage and annual Parliaments. In 1778 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the representation of Nottinghamshire ; and the same year he conceived the project of a political association, which took shape in 1780 as the " Society for Constitutional Information," and which included among its members some of the most distinguished men of the day. From this society sprang the more famous " Corresponding Society." Major Cartwright, working unweariedly for the promotion of reform, published many pamphlets which it is needless to enumerate here, carried on a very extensive correspondence, and attended a great number of public meetings. He was one of the witnesses on the trial of his friends, Horne Tooke, Thelwall, and Hardy, in 1794, and was himself indicted for conspiracy in 1819. He was found guilty in the following year, and was condemned to pay a fine of £100. Ile married in 1780, and his wife survived him. He had no children. He took up his abode in London in 1810, settled in Burton Crescent in 1819, alid there spent his last years. He was warmly loved by all who knew him personally ; for, while the world looked chiefly at his inflexibility of political principle, his family and friends saw his unswerving integrity, his gentle-heartedness, his warm affections, his unvarying courtesy and rare simplicity of life. His health began to fail in 1823 ; and his spirits were greatly depressed at the same time both by public and private sorrows. The reverses in Spain and the execution of Riego touched him deeply, and more closely still the illness of a sister and the death of his brother, noticed above. He died in London, on the 23d September 1824. In 1826 appeared, in two volumes, The Life and Correspondence of Major Cartwright, edited by his niece, F. D. Cartwright. A complete list of his writings is included in this work. In 1831 a monument was erected to him in Burton Crescent, from a design by Macdowell.