Carthew, George Alfred (DNB00)

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CARTHEW, GEORGE ALFRED (1807–1882), antiquary, was born on 20 June 1807, being the only son of George Carthew, solicitor, of Harleston, Norfolk, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Isaack, gent., of Wighton in the same county. Owing to his father's straitened circumstances, Carthew had little school education. While yet a boy he was articled to his father, and from him he inherited not only the remarkable faculty for genealogical and historical research which he exhibited throughout a long life, but a rich collection of materials. He had access, while still in his articles, to a collection of charters once belonging to Mendham Priory in Suffolk, and with but little assistance he spent years in deciphering, copying, and analysing the large mass of ancient documents so as to completely master the contents. Carthew was admitted a solicitor in Hilary term 1830, and, after practising for nine years at Framlingham in Suffolk, though still in partnership with his father at Harleston, accepted a partnership at East Dereham, where he fixed himself for the rest of his life. At Dereham Carthew wrote the history of the hundred of Launditch, which, after nearly forty years of toil, interrupted by frequent illness and pecuniary loss, was published with the title of ‘The Hundred of Launditch and Deanery of Brisley in the County of Norfolk. Evidences and Topographical Notes,’ &c., three parts, 4to, Norwich, 1877–9. This admirable specimen of a county history, skilfully arranged and skilfully executed, illustrated by lithographs, plans, and facsimiles, is unrivalled for the completeness of the manorial descents.

Carthew was nominated one of the local secretaries of the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society instituted under the presidency of Bishop Stanley in December 1845, and at the first general meeting (1846) read a paper on the church of Great Dereham. His contributions to the ‘Norfolk Archæology’ were numerous and important, the most valuable being perhaps the notice on ‘North Creake Abbey’ in the seventh volume, pp. 153–68, and that ‘On the Right of Wardship and the Ceremony of Homage and Fealty in the Feudal Times’ in the fourth volume, pp. 286–91. In the second volume of the same serial he had published ‘Extracts from a MS. Diary of Peter Le Neve, Esq., Norroy King of Arms, entitled “Memorands in Heraldry,” of such entries as relate to the County of Norfolk,’ accompanied by an elaborate pedigree of Le Neve and valuable genealogical notes. This manuscript had come into his possession through his grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Carthew, F.S.A., of Woodbridge Abbey in Suffolk, to whom it was given by ‘Honest Tom Martin,’ the historian of Thetford, who had married Le Neve's widow. Some extracts previously appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ Carthew also took part in editing for the society ‘The Visitation of Norfolk in the year 1563,’ of which only the first volume, published in 1878, has as yet appeared.

Later Carthew, in ill-health and suffering from severe domestic loss, prepared for publication his collections for the history of the parishes of West and East Bradenham, Necton, and Holme Hale. In the event of his death Dr. Jessopp undertook to see the rest of his material through the press, and preface the work with an introduction. Carthew was found dead in his chair on the morning of Saturday, 21 Oct. 1882, and was buried at Harleston.

Carthew had been elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in February 1854; he was a frequent contributor to the chief antiquarian and genealogical periodicals. After his death appeared: 1. ‘A History of the Parishes of West and East Bradenham, with those of Necton and Holme Hale, in the County of Norfolk. With an Introduction by the Rev. Augustus Jessopp, D.D.,’ 4to, Norwich, 1883. 2. ‘The Origin of Family or Sur-Names, with special Reference to those of the Inhabitants of East Dereham in the County of Norfolk,’ 4to, Norwich, 1883.

[Burke's Landed Gentry (1882), i. 278; Athenæum, 4 Nov. 1882, p. 598.]

G. G.