Sir John Cass

Sir John Cass was a man of singular ambition. Born near the Tower of London in 1661, he was the only son of a successful entrepreneur. In 1665, the family moved to a rural estate in Hackney and thus escaped London's Great Plague. The family business was, however, well placed to take advantage of the demands for the rebuilding of the City following the Great Fire of 1666.

John Cass began to emerge into public and political life only after the death of his father in 1699. Some of his most treasured ambitions were realised in three years of success for the Tory party at the end of the reign of Queen Anne: a successful business career, terms as Alderman, Sheriff, then City MP before being knighted in 1713.

Part of Sir John Cass’ wealth is understood to have been acquired through his role as Director of The Royal African Company which traded with Africa, including in the trade of enslaved people.  Cass retained shares in the Royal African Company until his death when they were bequeathed.*

In 1710, he founded a school and dedicated the rest of his life and his wealth to nurturing the minds of future generations.

In 2001 a donation from Sir John Cass's Foundation led the City University Business School to rename itself the Sir John Cass Business School (usually abbreviated to Cass Business School).


*This page was updated on 11th June 2020 to reflect the links Sir John Cass had to the slave trade in the 1700s and the role he played.  A review, commissioned by the Foundation, is underway to ascertain the facts concerning Sir John’s links to the slave trade with a full and transparent account to be published once complete.