The son of a London merchant, Pattison enlisted in the Royal Artillery regiment in 1740. He served at Ghent in 1742 and at the close of the Seven Years War commanded companies of the Royal Artillery sent to serve in Portugal. In April 1777, during the early stages of the American War of Independence, he was promoted to Colonel Commandant of the 4th Battalion. From 1779 to 1780 he served as Commandant of the City and Garrison of New York but was forced to return to England due to ill-health. He died at his house in Hill Street, London, in 1805, the contents of which were later sold at Christie's on 24th May of that year.