Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Cates, William Leist Readwin

CATES, WILLIAM LEIST READWIN (1821–1895), compiler, eldest son of Robert Cates, solicitor, of Fakenham, Norfolk, and his wife, Mary Ann Readwin, was born at that place on 12 Nov. 1821. He was educated for the law under a private tutor, and after passing his examinations at the London University went to Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. He subsequently removed to Gravesend for about a year, but, failing to establish a practice, took an appointment in 1844 as articled clerk to John Barfield, solicitor, at Thatcham, Berkshire.

His work proving thoroughly uncongenial and irksome to him, he abandoned the profession, first for private tuition, and later on for literature. In 1848 he settled at Wilmslow, Cheshire, and some years later at Didsbury, near Manchester. In 1860 he removed to London, in order to co-operate with his friend Bernard Bolingbroke Woodward [q. v.] in the production of the 'Encyclopædia of Chronology,' which he completed in 1872; in the interval he edited a 'Dictionary of General Biography' (London, 1867, 8vo; 3rd ed. 1880). Failing health compelled him to quit London in September 1887 for Hayes, near Uxbridge, where he died on 9 Dec. 1895. On 25 July 1845 he married Catherine, daughter of Aquila Robins of Holt, Norfolk.

Besides the works already named and the article on 'Chronology' in the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' (9th edit.) he was author of:

  1. 'The Pocket Date Book,' London, 1863, 8vo, which ran to a second edition.
  2. 'History of England from the Death of Edward the Confessor to the Death of King John,' London, 1874, 8vo.

He edited and largely re-wrote 'The Biographical Treasury … By S. Maunder, Thirteenth edition,' London, 1866, 8vo, besides superintending the fourteenth edition in 1873 and a subsequent one in 1882. He also translated and edited vols. vi. to viii. of d'Aubigné's 'History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin,' London, 1875-8, 8vo.

[Private information; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

B. B. W.