CARTERET, Edward (1671-1739), of St. Clement Danes, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1700
1702 - 1705
9 Dec. 1717 - 4 Apr. 1721

Family and Education

bap. 28 Nov. 1671, 3rd s. of Sir Philip Carteret of Haynes, Beds. by Lady Jemima, da. of Edward Montagu†, 1st Earl of Sandwich, and sis. of Hon. Charles Montagu* and Hon. Sidney Wortley Montagu*.  educ. Brentwood; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1688; M. Temple 1688, called 1702.  m. 21 Nov. 1699, Bridget (d. 1735), da. of Sir Thomas Exton†, LL.D., of Trinity Hall, Camb., dean of the Arches and chancellor, London dioc., wid. of Sir John Sudbury, 1st Bt., of Eldon, co. Dur. and of Thomas Clutterbuck of Ingatestone, Essex, 3s. d.v.p. 3da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. Mrs Ann Rider at Dagenhams, Romford, Essex 1732.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Bedford 1699, dep. recorder 1711–aft. 1718; prothonotary, palatinate of Durham 1712.2

Jt. postmaster-gen. 1721–Nov. 1732, sole Nov. 1732–June 1733, jt. June 1733–d.3


Carteret’s father, having formerly distinguished himself on the Royalist side in the Civil War as governor of Mount Orgueil Castle in Jersey, had perished with his father-in-law and patron, Lord Sandwich, at the battle of Sole Bay in 1672. As a younger son, Carteret himself was put to the law, but his best hope for preferment rested on the influence of his mother’s family, the Montagus, and it was as the nominee of his uncle, Sidney Wortley Montagu, that he was returned to Parliament for Huntingdon in the 1698 general election. On the basis of this family connexion he was classed as a supporter of the Court party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, and he bore out this assessment by voting on 18 Jan. 1699 against the third reading of the disbanding bill. He also told on 27 Mar. on a matter of merely local interest (though some way from his own constituency), against committing a bill for the repair of a highway in Berkshire. An analysis of the House during the following session into various ‘interests’ listed him among the followers of his kinsman Charles Montagu*. His tenure of a parliamentary seat was interrupted, however, because of the difficulties encountered by Wortley Montagu at Huntingdon, and he did not stand for re-election in January 1701.4

In the 1702 general election Carteret was chosen at Bedford, the borough closest to his ancestral seat. Although he effectively replaced a Whig, William Farrer*, there is no reason to suppose that his political allegiance had changed. He told on 17 Feb. 1703 against a clause on behalf of Colonel Luke Lillingston, proposed to be added to the bill to continue the Act appointing commissioners to examine the debts of the army, navy and transports. Although Carteret sometimes consorted with clergymen on social occasions he was forecast as likely to oppose the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. He was a teller on 3 Feb. 1705 in favour of a resolution condemning a local customs charge on coal levied at the port of King’s Lynn as a grievance and an oppression to the inhabitants of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. That same day he was appointed to the committee for a bill to reduce coal duties at all ports, which he presented to the House four days later. He was also a teller on 21 Feb. for agreeing with an amendment to the bill prohibiting commerce with France. Despite his vigilance on behalf of his constituents’ interests in the business of the coal trade he was not re-elected in 1705, when Farrer resumed the seat: whether voluntarily or not, he relinquished his candidature. At his next appearance on the electoral scene, in 1710, when he unsuccessfully challenged Farrer and another Whig in Bedford, he probably relied on Tory support, for the following year he was appointed deputy-recorder under the Tory Lord Bruce (Charles*) ‘by the recommendation of the loyal interest of the town’, and in 1712 and 1713 he assisted in the presentation of pro-ministerial addresses on the peace. The prominence which this post gave him in the politics of the borough did not, however, enable him to relaunch his parliamentary ambitions, and he was not involved in the contest at the 1713 election.5

Carteret returned to Parliament in a by-election in 1717. Having obtained a post in the Post Office, in the last stage of his career he separated from his nephew, Lord Carteret, becoming, through the unscrupulous and partisan exercise of his official powers to monitor the royal mails, an important instrument of Walpole’s ministry. Bequeathed a substantial estate in Essex by a female ‘friend and relation’ in 1732, he spent several years in improving the house and even built a private chapel there, while continuing to reside for the most part ‘at the Post Office in Paul’s churchyard’.6

Carteret died on 15 Apr. 1739 and was buried at Hornchurch in Essex. He had suffered for some time from the stone and had only recently been pronounced cured by a quack doctor to whose ministrations he had in desperation submitted himself. Thus the discovery of ‘two white, smooth stones, the size of chestnuts’ in his bladder was a ‘triumph’ for the sceptics and as such was reported in the press. Since he died intestate administration was granted to his two surviving daughters, one of them the wife of Edward Harvey*, and in due course they sold off the estate.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. A. Collins, Hist. Carteret Fam. 64–65; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 234; F. A. Blaydes, Genealogia Bedfordiensis, 135; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 36, 293; Morant, Essex, ii. 568; VCH Essex, vii. 66.
  • 2. Bedford Bor. Council, Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, corp. act bk. 1688–1718, ff. 56, 116; Post Boy, 1–4 Dec. 1711, 5–7 June 1712.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1731–4, p. 521; 1739–41, p. 200.
  • 4. Collins, 63–64; VCH Hunts. ii. 35.
  • 5. Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 255; Add. 29599, f. 119; Post Boy, 1–4 Dec. 1711; London Gazette, 10–12 July 1712, 30 May–2 June 1713; Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, ff. 113, 117.
  • 6. P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 109; Lysons, Environs (1792–6), iv. 191; Morant, i. 62; VCH Essex, 67; Autobiog. and Corresp. of Mrs Delany, i. 447.
  • 7. Westminster Abbey Reg. 36; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 245; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 217; Lysons, 191.