Richard John Cartwright, who represents Centre Huron in the House of Commons, and was Minister of Finance from 1873 to 1878, is a son of the Rev. D. Cartwright, chaplain at one period to the forces at Kingston, where he was born, and grandson of Hon Richard Cartwright, a United Empire Loyalist, who came to Canada from the United States about 1776, afterward fought for the Crown, and was a member of the first Parliament of tipper Canada, which met at Niagara in 1792, and continued to hold a seat in that body until his death in 1815.
Our subject was born in Kingston,. on the 4th of December, 1835, the maiden name of his mother being Harriett Dobbs. She was the mother of four children, of whom Richard was the eldest child. He was educated at Trinity college, Dublin, and entered public life in 1863, for Lennox and Addington, which riding he represented in the Canadian Assembly until the Confederation. In that year Mr. Cartwright was returned to the House of Commons for Lennox, representing that constituency until 1878, since which time he has sat for Centre Huron.
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Mr. Cartwright was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Minister of Finance, on the 7th of November, 1873, and held that position until October 11, 1878. Three times during that period 187I-75-76 he was called to visit England on public business.
On all political subjects, Mr. Cartwright shows deep study and great breadth of views, and he has a pleasant way of presenting his well matured opinions. As a speaker, avoiding all redundancy of words, he is concise, clear, terse, and logical, and secures the close attention of his audience.
Mr. Cartwright was formerly an Independent Conservative, but of late years has acted with the Liberals or Reformers, and is a very prominent man on that side of the House. He has evidently made finance his study, and has very few peers on either side of the House in that branch of science. He seems to have completely mastered the question of free trade versus a protective tariff.
Mr. Cartwright has held a few offices and done some public work outside of Parliament; was President of the Commercial Bank of Canada, which closed up a few years ago; was a director of the Canada Life Assurance Company, and is author of a pamphlet on the Militia question, published in 1864. He was created K.C.M.G., May 24, 1879.
Mr. Cartwright is a member of the Church of England; and although he has been in public life for seventeen years, and has had his character conspicuously exposed to the scrutiny of public adversaries, not a blot has been found.
In August 1859, he married Frances, eldest daughter of Colonel Alexander, of Cheltenham, England, and they have a large family of children.