Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Samuel Carter: the forgotten Chartist MP

Samuel Carter may not have been the best known Chartist activist, and his name is entirely absent from the pages of the Northern Star. But for a brief period he was one of the few Chartists to become a Member of Parliament.

Read more about Samuel Carter here.

Carter was elected not once but twice to represent the Devon constituency of Tavistock, fighting a by-election and a general election within a matter of weeks.

But his parliamentary career was brief. Elected in 1852, Carter was unseated by a select committee of the House of Commons following a complaint by the unsuccessful Tory candidate that he did not meet the property qualification required of MPs.

Since 1711 membership of the Commons had been restricted to those with an income of £600 a year from land for county MPs, and £300 a year for borough MPs. The rules had been changed in 1838 to include income from personal property as well as land.

Despite owning a substantial house, a tannery business and shares in the local water company, Carter failed to make the grade. Ironically, the abolition of the property qualification was the first of the six points of the Charter to be won.

He left politics to pursue his career as a barrister on the Western Circuit, where he proved to be a colorful and even outrageously outspoken figure, living on until 1903 when he was 89 years old.

Read more about Samuel Carter here.

Read about the property qualification and the six points of the People's Charter.