CARTER, Thomas (?1761-1835), of Edgcote, Northants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1796 - 1802
1807 - Apr. 1810

Family and Education

b. ?1761, o.s. of Thomas Richard Carter, barrister, of I. Temple, London and Bayford, Herts. by Anna Tobina, da. and h. of Toby Chauncy, merchant, of London. educ. Westminster 1774; Christ Church, Oxf. 3 June 1779, aged 18; M. Temple 1780, called 1787. m. 17 Nov. 1791, Glencairn, da. of Walter Campbell of Shawfield, Lanark and Islay, Argyll, s.p. suc. fa. 1795; cousin Anna Maria Chauncy to Edgcote 1795.

Offices Held

Supt. alien office Dec. 1794-Feb. 1798; priv. sec. to sec. of state for Home affairs Jan. 1795-Aug. 1798, provost marshal, Barbados 1807-d.

Capt. Northants. yeomanry 1803, lt.-col. Brackley vols. 1803; sheriff, Northants. 1806-7.


Carter was returned to Parliament on the 1st Marquess Townshend’s interest. As private secretary to the Duke of Portland at the Home Office, he could be expected to support Pitt’s administration—unlike John Courtenay, whom he superseded at Tamworth. There was one snag: on 11 Oct. 1796 Charles Abbot* reported:1

Carter came to consult me on the compatibility of his offices (as private secretary to the d[uke] of Portland and as having charge of the alien business) with his seat in Parliament under 15 Geo II c. 22.

As he ceased to accept a salary from 5 Apr. 1796, without being then replaced in office, the decision was evidently in his favour. He voted for Pitt’s assessed taxes 4 Jan. 1798, but no speech is known. In August 1798 he relinquished his appointments: he reverted for a time to his bar practice at the Oxford sessions and on 28 Aug. 1801 obtained the reversion of a sinecure in Barbados. He did not seek re-election in 1802 (his patron returned a son-in-law) and when he was returned on Lord Clinton’s interest in 1807, it was again as a supporter of his former employer the duke. On 4 Mar. 1808 he obtained two weeks’ leave of absence from the House, but no evidence survives of activity there.2 Nor, once the duke was removed from the scene, did he seek to remain a Member. A month before he vacated his seat for the convenience of his patron, the Whigs listed him ‘doubtful’ from their point of view.

Carter retired to his Northamptonshire estate. He died 10 June 1835, a ‘liberal landlord ... a kind master ... an efficient magistrate’. He was besides ‘distinguished for a singular firmness in friendship, a nice sense of honour, and a strong and open-hearted integrity’.3 This was a marked improvement on the ‘atrocious barbarity’ he and several other Westminster schoolboys had shown in assaulting a man in Dean’s yard in 1779, when he was about to go up to Oxford; on his father’s intercession his sentence of a month’s imprisonment was commuted into a fine.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/9/31.
  • 2. The speech attributed to him in Geo. III Corresp. v. 4076n. was Alderman Curtis’s.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1835), ii. 205.
  • 4. Annual Reg. (1779), 213.