CARTER, Lawrence (c.1641-1710), of Clement's Inn and The Newarke, Leicester.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1701

Family and Education

b. c.1641, 1st s. of Lawrence Carter of Paulerspury, Northants. by Eleanor, da. and. h. of John Pollard, yeoman, of Leckhampstead, Bucks. educ. Clement’s Inn. m. (1) by 1667, Elizabeth (d. 29 Sept. 1671), da. and coh. off Thomas Wadland, attorney, of The Newarke, 2s.; (2) lic. 5 July 1675, aged 33, Mary, da. of Thomas Potter of London, 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1669.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Leics. 1677-9, 1690, Leicester 1679-80, 1689; freeman, Leicester 1689; j.p. Leics. 1689-d.; steward, honour of Leicester 1697-1702.2

Receiver-gen. duchy of Lancaster Mar.-July 1702.3


Carter, the son of a prosperous gentleman farmer, was articled to a Leicester attorney, whose daughter he married. He was man of business to the Earls of Stamford and Huntingdon, and it was alleged that his advice impelled the latter to go over to the Court in 1681. It was Huntingdon who tried to persuade the Leicester corporation to surrender their charter in 1684, and when they refused a writ of quo warranto was sent to Carter, upon which resistance ceased. Huntingdon became recorder under the new charter. Carter was one of the first to kiss hands on the accession of James II, and wrote optimistically to the mayor on 14 Feb. 1685: ‘We are got into the most peaceable age that men have yet lived in’. In the following month, with Huntingdon’s support, he obtained letters patent to provide the town with a piped water supply from the Soar. The works, which cost him about £4,000, were constructed by John Wilkins, one of the aldermen and a man of ‘most mechanical genius’.4

Unlike his master Huntingdon, Carter survived the Revolution with exemplary smoothness. In 1689 he was returned unopposed for Leicester as a moderate Whig, probably on the interest of his other patron Lord Stamford. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 27 committees and made four recorded speeches. On 6 Feb. he spoke in favour of proceeding against the London alderman who had bailed Robert Brent, the ‘popish solicitor’ and regulator. He was among those to whom the Lords bill for new oaths of supremacy and allegiance was committed, and he strongly opposed the exemption of the bishops:

all the subjects of England are under one King: and there is but one allegiance, according to our law. It was suggested here that the bishops had taken an oath to King James, and therefore their consciences would not bear to swear to King William, and I think that the strongest reason why it should be tendered them. We must not set two heads on one Church, and divide the bishops. Some have taken it and some not; and as to the government, we have taken it. How can we be true to the King, if all do not? We have done it, and they ought to do it.

He was appointed to the committee to prepare reasons for conferences on this subject and on the seizure of horses belonging to Roman Catholics. During the committee stage of the indemnity bill he opposed the wholesale exceptions proposed by the hottest Whigs. ‘There is some discourse without doors’, he told the House, ‘that if we go about things we shall set the whole nation on fire. I hope the King’s directions will be most acceptable to the nation.’ He moved unsuccessfully against excepting Huntingdon.

I hope this will not appear to be the greatest offender. He came in to act in this commission when the lawyers and bishops thought it safe to act. He was well assured, before he acted, and advised with several lawyers, who gave him encouragement to proceed. (He was called upon to name those lawyers.) He dissented in divers things that they acted against the Church.

He was particularly prominent over the succession issue, reporting reasons for disagreeing with the Lords, amendments to the clause on 9 July, and two conferences which followed. He also helped to consider the bill to reverse the quo warranto against London, and to prepare reasons for a conference on Titus Oates. On 18 July he was given leave to go into the country, though only after a division. He was less active after the recess, and needless to say was not listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. Local loyalties outweighed party with him, and he was teller for the election of John Beaumont at Hastings. He sat in the next Parliament as a court Whig, but it was his son, later a judge, who was first returned for Leicester as a Tory in 1698. Carter himself was buried at St. Mary, Leicester on aged 69, with a memorial inscription recording that he had been three times elected for the borough.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Leckhampstead Par. Reg. 11; H. R. Moulton, Cat. (1930), 91; Baker, Northants. ii. 206; Nichols, Leics. i. 318; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 248; Recs. Bor. Leicester ed. Stocks, iv. 379.
  • 2. Reg. Leicester Freemen, i. 172; Sir Robert Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Official Lists, 180.
  • 3. Somerville, 19.
  • 4. PCC 17 Coke; Grey, ix. 387; Huntington Lib. Q. xv. 376; Recs. Bor. Leicester, iv. 379; J. Thompson, Leicester, 437; PC2/71/16; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 23, 47, 179; Nichols, 318.
  • 5. Grey, ix. 67, 212-13, 245, 386-7; CJ, x. 93, 211, 213, 215, 223, 335.