Samuel Carter (Coventry MP)

Last updated
Samuel Carter
Member of Parliament
for Coventry
In office
26 March 1868 17 November 1868
Servingwith Henry Eaton
Preceded by Henry Jackson
Henry Eaton
Succeeded by Henry Eaton
Alexander Staveley Hill
Personal details
Born 15 May 1805
Coventry, England
Died 31 January 1878(1878-01-31) (aged 72)
Paddington, London
Resting place Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Maria Ronalds(m. 1833)
Children Four, including Hugh Carter

Samuel Carter (15 May 1805 – 31 January 1878) was a Member of Parliament for his native city of Coventry, and solicitor to two major railway companies (the London and North Western Railway and Midland Railway) for nearly four decades during the development of Britain’s rail network. [1] [2] [3]

Coventry City and Metropolitan borough in England

Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England.

A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be described as a solicitor and enabled to practise there as such. For example, in England and Wales a solicitor is admitted to practise under the provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974. With some exceptions, practising solicitors must possess a practising certificate. There are many more solicitors than barristers in England; they undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings.

London and North Western Railway former railway company in United Kingdom

The London and North Western Railway was a British railway company between 1846 and 1922. In the late 19th century the L&NWR was the largest joint stock company in the world.


Life and family

Born into a family of the Unitarian faith, [4] his father Samuel Snr was the Coventry prison keeper for many years and his mother Jane was the daughter of Josiah Corrie Snr, a minister in Kenilworth. He attended the school of his uncle John Corrie FRS, who was long-time President of the Birmingham Philosophical Institution. [5] Marrying Sir Francis Ronalds' youngest sister Maria in 1833, they had four children: Alexander, Hugh, [6] John Corrie and Jane. [2] In the 1855-1875 period, they resided at Battle in a substantial estate called Quarry Hill. [7] Samuel died in London, and was buried in the family vault in Kenilworth. [8]

Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement named for its belief that the God in Christianity is one person, as opposed to the Trinity which defines God as three persons in one being; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unitarian Christians, therefore, believe that Jesus was inspired by God in his moral teachings, and he is a savior, but he was not a deity or God incarnate. Unitarianism does not constitute one single Christian denomination, but rather refers to a collection of both extant and extinct Christian groups, whether historically related to each other or not, which share a common theological concept of the oneness nature of God.

Kenilworth town in Warwickshire, England

Kenilworth is a town and civil parish in Warwickshire, England, about 6 miles (10 km) south-west of the centre of Coventry, 5 miles (8 km) north of Warwick and 90 miles (140 km) north-west of London. The town is on Finham Brook, a tributary of the River Sowe, which joins the River Avon about 2 miles (3 km) north-east of the town centre. The 2011 Census recorded a parish population of 22,413. Kenilworth is noted for the extensive ruins of Kenilworth Castle. Other sights include the ruins of Kenilworth Abbey in Abbey Fields park, St Nicholas' Parish Church and the town's clock tower.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Railway solicitor

Samuel had been articled to his uncle Josiah Corrie, a lawyer in Birmingham, and their partnership was appointed as solicitors to the proposed London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) in 1830. [3] [9]

Birmingham City in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. With an estimated population of 1,137,100 as of 2017, Birmingham is the cultural, social, financial and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main centre of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population in 2011 of 2,440,986. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 3.7 million. Birmingham is frequently referred to as the United Kingdom's "second city".

London and Birmingham Railway early British railway company (1837–1846)

The London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) was an early railway company in the United Kingdom, existing from 1833 to 1846, when it became part of the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR).

They also acted as solicitors to various lines that were planned to connect other communities with the new trunkline. One was the Birmingham and Derby Railway (B&DR) to which Corrie & Carter was appointed in 1835. B&DR joined with other companies in 1844 to form the Midland Railway, with Carter being one of the solicitors to the amalgamation bill (Corrie having died). [10] [11]

Midland Railway British pre-grouping railway company (1844–1922)

The Midland Railway (MR) was a railway company in the United Kingdom from 1844 to 1922, when it became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. It had a large network of lines managed from its headquarters in Derby. It became the third-largest railway undertaking in the British Isles.

Some sources suggest that Carter was instrumental in the decision to establish the Railway Clearing House in 1841, when he and his good friend Robert Stephenson advised the directors of L&BR and B&DR, two of the founding members, on its merits. [12]

Railway Clearing House organization

The British Railway Clearing House (RCH) was an organisation set up to manage the allocation of revenue collected by pre-grouping railway companies of fares and charges paid for passengers and goods travelling over the lines of other companies.

Robert Stephenson British railway engineer

Robert Stephenson FRS HFRSE DCL was an early English railway and civil engineer. The only son of George Stephenson, the "Father of Railways", he built on the achievements of his father. Robert has been called the greatest engineer of the 19th century.

Carter was also a solicitor to the bill enabling L&BR to amalgamate with other companies to form the London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) in 1846. By now he had opened a second office in London and he soon acquired a home near Hyde Park. [13] He later purchased a property at Battle. [1] [14]

Hyde Park, London Royal Park in London, United Kingdom

Hyde Park is a Grade I-listed major park in Central London. It is the largest of four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, via Hyde Park Corner and Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. The park is divided by the Serpentine and the Long Water lakes.

Battle, East Sussex town and civil parish in the local government district of Rother in East Sussex, England

Battle is a small town and civil parish in the local government district of Rother in East Sussex, England. It lies 55 miles (89 km) south-south-east of London, 32 miles (51 km) east of Brighton and 24 miles (39 km) east of Lewes. Also nearby are Hastings to the south-east and Bexhill-on-Sea to the south. It was the site of the Battle of Hastings, where William, Duke of Normandy, defeated King Harold II to become William I in 1066. It lies in the designated High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The parish population was 6,048 according to the 2001 census, increasing to 6,673 with the 2011 Census. It has two senior schools: Claverham Community College and Battle Abbey.

L&NWR and Midland Railway were quite commonly aligned in the years following and he was able to represent them jointly. This happened for example with the Worcester and Hereford Railway, where he spoke on behalf of both companies at shareholder meetings and served as solicitor to its parliamentary bills. [15]

The 1845-6 parliamentary session saw the peak of Railway Mania and the beginnings of the Battle of the Gauges, in both of which Carter was much occupied. He and Isambard Kingdom Brunel apparently negotiated a territorial boundary in early 1846 between Brunel's Great Western Railway (GWR) and its affiliates on the broad gauge, and the standard gauge L&NWR and Midland companies, but it was overturned. [16] Thereafter, Carter fought the spread of the broad gauge in various contests in parliament and the courts. He and Stephenson cited the dangers of rival companies using the same infrastructure on different gauges, requiring GWR to build its own stations in Birmingham and elsewhere. [3] [17]

Some of his last parliamentary contests enabled Midland to build its own routes into London to its new St Pancras station and to Scotland on its Settle-Carlisle Railway. [18] [19]

Member of parliament

Carter was a staunch Liberal in his politics and had participated in the Birmingham Political Union in the 1830s. [3] In a by-election in March 1868, he was elected to parliament for Coventry, which triggered his retirement from railway business. His maiden speech in the house was in support of the proposed Irish Church Act to disestablish the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. He had only a very short parliamentary term however as he and his Liberal colleague Henry Jackson were defeated in the general election in November 1868. He lost again in 1874. [8] [20]

Benefactor to Coventry

Carter funded the building of the Coventry School of Art, laying the foundation stone in 1862. He also donated £1,000 towards the Free Library. [8] [21]


Carter published several pamphlets in the 1870s illustrating to railway shareholders that the new Railway Commissioners had been given powers to reduce rates and tolls from the amounts permitted in the companies' acts of parliament, thereby jeopardising their investments. [22] His warnings created little consternation at the time but there was uproar a decade later when these powers became more explicit in the 1886 Railway and Canal Traffic bill. [23]

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Hugh Carter (1837–1903) was an English painter, of subject paintings, portraits and landscapes.


  1. 1 2 "Maria Carter née Ronalds". Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  2. 1 2 Ronalds, B.F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press. ISBN   978-1-78326-917-4.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Samuel Carter". Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  4. "Samuel Carter, Esq". Christian Life. 3: 75. 1878.
  5. "Sketch of the Character of the late John Corrie". Christian Reformer. 7: 346–347. 1840.
  6. Wikisource-logo.svg   Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Carter, Hugh". Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement. 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  7. Ronalds, B.F. (2018). "The Ronalds–Carter Family in 19th-Century Battle" (PDF). Collectanea, Battle and District Historical Society. O1.12.
  8. 1 2 3 "The Late Mr Samuel Carter". Coventry Herald. 8 Feb 1878. p. 3.
  9. "The Late Mr Carter". Solicitors' Journal. 22: 302. 1878.
  10. Williams, F.S. (1888). The Midland Railway (5th ed.).
  11. Stretton, C.E. (1901). History of the Midland Railway.
  12. Gordon, W.J. (1910). Our Home Railways. 2. Frederick Warne & Co.
  13. "Carter, Samuel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49346.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. Walford, Edward (1869). The County Families of the United Kingdom Or, Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland (5th ed.). R Hardwicke. p. 181. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  15. "Proposed Railway from Worcester to Hereford". Railway Record. 8: 426–427. 1851.
  16. "The Dispute between the London and North-Western and Great Western Companies". Railway Times: 6–8. 1847.
  17. Ronalds, BF (Spring 2018). "Samuel Carter (1805-78): Early Railway Solicitor". Midland Railway Society Journal. 67: 11–13.
  18. "Midland Railway-(Extension to London)". The Gazette, Official Public Record. 1862. pp. 5627–5628.
  19. "London & North-Western - Midland". Railway Times. 30: 502–504. 1867.
  20. Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885(e-book) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. ISBN   978-1-349-02349-3.
  21. Caldicott, C. (1884). Walks through Coventry.
  22. Carter, S. (1874). Railway Legislation.
  23. Alborn, T.L. (2014). Conceiving Companies. Routledge.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Jackson
Henry Eaton
Member of Parliament for Coventry
March 1868November 1868
With: Henry Eaton
Succeeded by
Henry Eaton
Alexander Staveley Hill