The Sir John Cass Foundation
Since its inception, in 1709, Sir John Cass’s Foundation has played an active role in the City of London and still, to-day, follows the charitable aims laid down by its founder.
Cass was born in 1661 in East Smithfield. His Father was Master Carpenter to the Royal Ordnance and he acquired property in Hackney, Essex and the City. John followed his Father as a Tory, High Churchman and Member of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, becoming its Master in 1711. He then became Master of the Skinners in 1714. He was M.P. for the City from 1710 to 1715 and was knighted in 1712 on the occasion of the address to Queen Anne in favour of peace. In 1711 he was also elected an Alderman and in the same year held the office of Sheriff of the City.
Besides his political career, John Cass was Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Tower Hamlets, Treasurer of the Hospital of Bethlem and Bridwell, and Colonel of the Orange Regiment.
Unfortunately, little is known of Cass’s personal and business life. He was married but seemed to have no surviving children and he and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in Hackney, where he also worshipped. The Vicar at St. John’s Church there described him as haughty and reserved.
Cass died in 1718. He is said to have had a haemorrhage while signing a will and the quill pen he was using was stained red. Red quills are still worn by the Cass Schoolchildren on Founder’s Day to this day. He was buried in the family vault at St. Mary’s Whitechapel.