Cass’s final years
Perhaps the highest point in Cass’s career in terms of public success came when he was knighted in by Queen Anne in 1712. The next year, he tried but failed to secure the nomination to be the next Lord Mayor – the job went to Sir Richard Hoare. However, Cass continued with his career in parliament, in the Skinners’ Company and in the running of a number of charities in addition to the school that bore his name.
But in 1714 Queen Anne died, to be succeeded by her second cousin, George, Elector of Hanover. The new king’s chief charm to the people of Britain was that he was safely Protestant. And with his arrival began many years of ascendancy for the Whigs.
At about the same time, it seems that Cass’s health began to fail – certainly he took time off to travel to the west country to take a cure. And in the 1715 election he lost his parliamentary seat. Cass went on being active in the City, but at some time during these years he must have decided that, especially as he and his wife Elizabeth had no children, his school was to be his enduring memorial. It is clear that he and his wife took a very personal interest in its development, probably visiting very often.
The story of Sir John Cass’s death while in the process of signing his will is famous. Under the terms of that will, after providing generously for his wife and leaving legacies to various cousins, friends and servants, almost the whole of his vase wealth was to be used for the school he had set up.