Welcome to AusPostalHistory.com

ADMIRAL BERTIE CORNELIUS CATOR of BECKENHAM, LONDON (1787 - 1864)

This entire has a strip of three of the 1855 Perkins Bacon, London printing rose-carmine TWO PENCE (S.G. # 20) imperforate stamps of South Australia postmarked with 2 strikes of the ‘empty’ circle & bars cancel of Adelaide as well as alongside the PAID/ MR 24/ 1855/ ADELAIDE S A in red. It is rated with a manuscript ‘3', and unusually it has no transit or arrival markings on the reverse. It is addressed to Admiral Cator, Messrs Hallett & Robinson, 14 Great George Street, Westminster, London (Figure 1).

 

 

In summary, Bertie Cornelius Cator was the fourth, or fifth or seventh son of Joseph Cator of Beckenham who died in1818. Bertie was born in Beckenham, County Kent on 26 September 1787, entered the Royal Navy in April 1800 and became a captain on 7 June 1814; he retired 1 October 1846, and was promoted as a retired admiral on 12 April 1862. He died in London on 23 July 1864 at the age of 76. This summary was all the information found in F. Boase’s Modern English Biography, 6 v. 1892-1921.

His death was reported in The Illustrated London News on 13 August 1864, at the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, London. He was buried in the large Cator family tomb in St. George’s churchyard, Beckenham, as was Bertie’s wife, Sophia née Atkinson (whom he married in 1816), and she died in 1862 at the age of 74. Their only son, Captain Bertie Cator died in 1864, yet another ‘only son’ Captain Albermarle Bertie Cator was said to have died in Canada in 1862. One can’t be sure if both were one and the same person! A copy of the illustration of the front of this paper is shown in Figure 2.

 

 

The firm of Hallett and Robinson at 14 Great George Street, London was listed as one of the Agents for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in 1844 and it administered a Royal Naval Medical Supplement Fund for granting an additional pension to widows of officers in the navy.

The problems that I encountered with the Cator family history was continued in Bertie Cator’s naval history, because of the archaic geographical terms and unknown abbreviations of naval terms. This abbreviated account is derived from W.R. O’Byrne’s A Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849. Bertie’s father, Joseph Cator was a "merchant of high standing", and he married Diana, a sister of the late Admiral Sir Albermarle Bertie, Bart, K.C.B., a descendant of the Dukes of Uncaster. This officer [Bertie] entered the Navy in April 1800 on board the Windsor Castle commanded by his uncle Capt. Albermarle Bertie..... where he afterwards joined in succession 3 different frigates in the Mediterranean and assisted in the capture of privateers and other armed vessels. He was promoted on 14 December 1806 to acting-lieutenant ...... employed in conveying despatches to the Archipelago and Egypt and also to England, whither he proved the main instrument, during a tremendous hurricane, of rescuing the vessel (the brig Delight) from destruction."

He was appointed in 1808 to the Leopard, the flag-ship at the Cape of Good Hope of his uncle Rear-Admiral Bertie, by whom he was placed in command in February and November 1809 of the sloops Sapphire and Otter. In the latter sloop in April 1810 he was "blockading the Isles of France and Bourbon, and particularly distinguishing himself by the capture of St. Rose." He was captured whilst "on passage from the Cape (of Good Hope) to Mauritius by two French frigates, but was fortunately exchanged in time to assume command of the Bombay Anna and (to) co-operate in the subjugation of that island"and he "was sent home as acting-Commander of the Acteon brig with despatches" as well as promoted to the rank of Commander in 1811 and presented with a gratuity of £500.

After this in 1814 he carried despatches to and from Calcutta, escorted the Russian Fleet from the Baltic to Gottenburg, landed a party of marines in Lynhaven Bay on the east coast of America where he destroyed a barrack with all its stores after a short action with a body of dragoons and infantry. He accepted retirement on 1 October 1846. As this original account was written in 1849, it did not mention that he was promoted to Admiral in his retirement. This account however continued by confirming his marriage to Sophia Atkinson in 1816, the daughter of Michael Atkinson of Kent, by whom "he has, with other issue, a youngest daughter, Jane Frances", with surprisingly no mention of his sons!

A relative Charles Cator emigrated to Australia and he married Emily Elizabeth Swain, and one of their daughters, Audrey Emily Theodora Cator died and was buried in Melbourne. I have found no other association of the English Cator family with Australia.

 

 

 
Copyright 2000-2016