John Cartier was appointed as the Governor of Bengal Province on December 26, 1769 and was preceded by Harry Verelst, who served as Governor of Bengal from 1767 to 1769. The Bengal Presidency originally comprised east and west Bengal and was a colonial region of the British Empire in India. The region included the territories of undivided Bengal like West Bengal, Tripura, Orissa, Meghalaya, Bihar, Assam and modern Bangladesh. Cartier acted as the governor during the 1770 Bengal famine, which was a catastrophic famine between 1769 and 1773. The famine affected the lower Gangetic plain of British India and around one-third of the population died. The Court of Directors shipped a 3 person commission to Bengal to assess the situation as a response to the crisis. But the ship foundered at sea and the Court of Directors recalled Cartier as they were unable send a replacement. John Cartier served in office till 1772 was succeeded by Warren Hastings, who took office on 13 April 1772 and acted as his replacement.
Later John Cartier served as a High Sheriff of Kent in the year 1789. He died on January 25, 1802 in Bedgbury, Kent. Cartier was praised for his government of Bengal by Edmund Burke.