Carter, Thomas Thellusson (DNB12)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

CARTER, THOMAS THELLUSSON (1808–1901), tractarian divine, born at Eton on 19 March 1808, was the younger son of the Rev. Thomas Carter, then lower master and afterwards vice-provost of Eton, by Mary, daughter of Henry Proctor. He entered Eton when 'just six years old,' and spent twelve years of school life under his father's roof. He left Eton captain of the oppidans, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 8 Dec. 1825, and went into residence in 1827. E. B. Pusey, one of his father's pupils, who in 1828 became regius professor of Hebrew, was from the first 'kind' to him, though Carter 'was unconscious at that time of any such influence as afterwards so affected him' (Life, pp. 8, 9). He graduated with a first class in classics in 1831, sat unsuccessfully for an Oriel fellowship, and left Oxford before the tractarian movement had developed. In 1832 he was ordained deacon by the bishop of Salisbury and was licensed to St. Mary's, Reading, of which H. H. Milman, afterwards dean of St. Paul's, was vicar. He was ordained priest in 1833, and went to Burnham, Buckinghamshire, as curate for his father. There the 'Tracts for the Times' vitally influenced Carter, who 'in reading them . . . felt a sense of interest and earnestness in religious doctrines ono had not known before' (Life, p. 14). In 1838 he became rector of Piddlehinton near Dorchester, and in 1844 rector of Clewer, near Windsor, a parish with which his family had associations.

Clewer found in Carter a zealous in- cumbent bent on social as well as ecclesiastical reform. He restored the services and the fabric of the church, steadily developing the ritual used and the doctrine taught. Though his zeal and personal charm won over most of the people, his ritual changes bred opposition, which in time produced appeals to the law. In March 1849, moved by the example of John Armstrong, bishop of Grahamstown, and by facts observed in his own parish, Carter founded the House of Mercy at Clewer for the rescue of fallen women. The work, conducted on clearly defined ecclesiastical lines, led to many extensions, directly or indirectly connected with Clewer, reaching even to India and the colonies. To meet the needs of the House of Mercy, he founded in 1852 a sisterhood, the Community of St. John the Baptist, Clewer. The movement was viewed by many with alarm, provoked controversy, and caused Samuel Wilberforce [q. v.], bishop of Oxford, much anxiety (Life, iii. 328). Owing to the nature of Carter's work, and his part in the revival of the religious life, requests for spiritual direction came to him from all sides, and he discharged the task with conviction and sympathy. The bishop of Oxford acknowledged his parochial work by making him in 1870 hon. canon of Christ Church.

Prominent in most movements of the advanced high churchmen, Carter signed in 1856 the protest against the Bath judgment in the case of Archdeacon Denison, which was a considered statement on the doctrine of the Real Presence. In 1870 he sent to A. C. Tait [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, the memorial of 1529 clergy against the admission to Holy Communion in Westminster Abbey of 'teachers of various sects' in the company of New Testament revisers. When, in 1873, a petition for 'the education, selection and licensing of duly qualified confessors' was read in Canterbury convocation, and led to some public excitement, Carter with W. Bright, H. P. Liddon, and E. B. Pusey drew up a declaration in defence of confession, published in The Times,' 6 Dec. 1873. In the organisation of his party Carter was also conspicuous. He was a founder and long vice-president of the English Church Union, a founder and superior general of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and master of the Society of the Holy Cross.

Three times the law was set in motion against Carter on the score [of ritual excesses, and three times J. F. Mackaruess [q. v.], bishop of Oxford, vetoed proceedings. On the third occasion Dr. Julius, a parishioner of Clewer, obtained from the Queen's Bench a mandamus against the bishop ; but the decision was reversed on appeal and the appeal upheld by the Lords. Carter knew, however, that the bishop disapproved of his policy, and whilst the case was pending placed his resignation at the bishop's disposal on 11 July 1878. When the House of Lords delivered their judgment on 22 March 1880 he definitely resigned the rectory of Clewer.

Carter retired to St. Johns Lodge. Clewer, and continued the active supervision of the House of Mercy and the Clewer sisterhood. On the issue of 'Lux Mundi' (1889) he signed the declaration on inspiration put forth by eighteen clergy. As late as 1893 he spoke at the Birmingham church congress. He died after a few days' illness on 28 Oct. 1901.

Carter's piety, spiritual insight, and zeal in good works, combined with his courage and skill in organisation, gave him for many years an almost unequalled influence amongst advanced high churchmen, an influence much extended by his fecundity as an author. He married on 26 Nov. 1835, Mary Anne, daughter of John Gould of Amberd, near Torquay, by whom he had one son, who died in 1899. There is a mural table with a bronze figure in Clewer church, a life-size effigy in the chapel of the Clewer community, and a memorial window in Piddlehinton church. A presentation portrait, painted by Frank Holl, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1883.

Carter's first publication, 'Eton System of Education Vindicated,' appeared in 1834 ; his last, 'The Spirit of Watchfulness and other Sermons,' in 1899. Of his more important books, ' The First Five Years of the House of Mercy, Clewer' (1855), 'The First Ten Years of the House of Mercy, Clewer' (1861), and 'Harriet Monsell: a Memoir ' (1884 ; 3rd edit. 1890), deal with the Clewer organisations. The 'Memoir of J. Armstrong, D.D., Bishop of Grahamstown' (1857) also reflects Carter's interest in penitentiaries. Much of his best homiletical work is in the volume of 'Sermons' (1862) ; and his controversial manner is well shown in 'The Doctrine of Confession in the Church of England' (1865). Between 1860 and 1866 he published four volumes of Lent Lectures ; and from 1870 to 1891 six volumes of 'Spiritual Instructions.' In addition, Carter appeared as the editor of many works, some of which were of his own devising, amongst them the 'Treasury of Devotion' (1869; 8th ed. 1885), perhaps his most widely used book.

[W. H. Hutchings, Life and Letters of T. T. Carter, 1903; H. M. Luckock, The Beautiful Life of an Ideal Priest, 1902; The Times, 29 Oct. 1901; Guardian, 30 Oct. 1901; Foster, Alumni Oxon.; J. C. Macdonnell, Life and Correspondence of W. C. Magee, 1896, ii. 64, 99-106; Davidson and Benham, Life of A. C. Tait, 1891, i. chap. xvi.; ii. chaps. NX. xxii.; G. A. Denison, Notes of My Life, 1878, cap. viii.; Liddon, Life of E. B. Pusey, 1894, iii. cap. xvii.; F. W. Cornish, The English Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1910, part ii. caps. iv. and vi.]

A. R. B.