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Thomas and Henry Carter

CARTER, Thomas (Dr), brother of Henry, arr. 6.7.1830 per Medina with 2 servants. Granted 5000 acres in partnership with Charles Leroux (dissolved 1834), 3700 in Avon district 1832 & 620 in 1837, as well as 578 acres in Canning District 1832. Estab. a Wayside Inn at "Merrow Farm"; the half way house to York (in 1834 was placed in charge of Smith). Was Sec. of York Agr. Soc. 1841. In partnership with brother Henry was a merchant with businesses at Frem., Geraldton & York where they owned Town Lots. Joined by brother-in-law W. Bartram 1852. Chairman of Frem. Town Trust 1855. Visited England via Tasmania, dep. 19.1.1842 per Lady Emma & returning 30.4.1843 per Janet. Employed T/L men.

CARTER, Henry, d. 26.2.1862 (England), arr. 6.1840 per Prima Donna, dep. for England 3.3.1853 per Dido & returned with wife per Isabella Blythe, m. (U.K.) Mary Eliza Ann. Chd. Henry b. 1856 at Frem. Member York Agric. Soc. He was pastoralist at York & Merchant at Frem. in partnership with brother Thomas. Director Geraldine Mining Co. The firm T. & H. Carter employed 4 T/L men (2 engineers) 1865-1869 & a tinsmith 1881.

Anne Carter:
The Carters were prospering, so why did this happen? The answer can be found in the archives of the York Agricultural Society. It was at an 1852 committee meeting that Thomas announced his momentous decision to cease farming. He intended to leave York in order to join his brother at Fremantle, where they would work together to develop their general store. He had, in fact, written to his sister Sarah in Norfolk and to her husband William Bartram, an experienced grocer and draper, inviting them to help in the business. The committee must have had prior warning of these plans, for Thomas was there-and-then made president of the society, a singular honour given in appreciation of his many years of service. Farming had always been his strength, so what was the reason behind his decision to change direction when he was being so successful and was only 46 years old? The answer is simple. Capital was urgently needed if the Fremantle store were to expand as the brothers wished and the sale of farm stock would provide this. The freehold lands were retained for years to come, Thomas still owning some real estate in the colony at the time of his death, forty years on.
Meanwhile, Sarah Bartram had accepted her brother’s invitation to come to Fremantle with her husband William. They sailed on the Eglinton, leaving Gravesend on 11 April 1852 and travelling via the Cape of Good Hope. On 3 September, the vessel’s captain, somewhat tipsy after a passenger’s birthday party and in possession of a faulty chronometer, was to lose all control of the vessel when, believing her to be 150 miles from the Australian coast, she foundered on rocks just north of Perth. There she remained totally crippled, with many passengers aboard, plus a valuable cargo, including £15,000 for the colonial treasury. Two days later the female passengers were dragged through rough seas to a waiting cutter, which overturned a short way from shore, causing Sarah to be the only woman to drown. She was buried in Alma Street Cemetery, Fremantle. Later, a ticket-of-leave man rescued the gold. Thomas and Henry Carter and their brother-in-law William Bartram, shocked and saddened, agreed to continue in business together, buying more town allotments in Fremantle in order to do so.
Six months later, on 3 March 1853, Henry left for England on the Dido and that October married Mary Elizabeth Anne Brett of Weybourne, Norfolk. The couple arrived back in Fremantle on 28 January 1854 on the Isabella Blythe. Thomas, meanwhile, was involving himself in local concerns and in 1855 became chairman of the Fremantle Town Trust. The family business was expanding, with the brothers importing many goods for sale, including ‘Carpets, brandy and an elegant dog cart’ per the Aerolite in May 1856. William Bartram was proving to be a pillar of strength. Once again, after twenty-five years in the colony, Thomas’s thoughts turned to England, and he left for home that same year, travelling via Melbourne and Valparaiso. In December 1856, amidst general family rejoicing, a son, Henry junior, was bom to Mary and Henry Carter. Eighteen months later, Henry and his family went back to the old country to see his father who was unwell, leaving the business in the capable hands of Mr Bartram, who remained there till he died in March 1874.
The firm was mortgaged to Nicol Patterson and Anthony Cornish in 1862, but by May 1864 it had reverted to its original owners, being known as T. and H. Carter and Co., when Charles Wittenoom was appointed agent and attorney. Over time, branches were set up at Derby, Roeboume, Carnarvon and Cockbum Sound, as well as at York and Geraldton. The firm was now under the direction of Edward Newman, described as ‘a man of brilliant intellect, who in 1870 was elected one of Fremantle’s two representative in Parliament.’ On his death in 1872, a Mr Barry [probably Barrington Wood, Fremantle's first mayor] succeeded him as principal.
The wholesale and retail business of Messrs. T. & H. Carter and Co. was offered for sale in March 1888 described as ‘one of the oldest established in the colony, and could be worked up to large proportions. The stock-in-trade consists of a well-assorted stock of general drapery and grocery selected by one of the best buying houses in London.’ It was sold in 1891 as a number of different lots rather than as a going concern. Had it been kept going for just a few more years, profits would have expanded rapidly, for gold was discovered at Coolgardie in 1892 and in Kalgoorlie the following year. It was only then that the colony really began to prosper. (Carter 1999: 606-607.)

References and Links

Carter, Anne 1999, 'Thomas and Henry Carter: pioneers of York and Fremantle', Early Days, vol. 11, part 5: 595-611.


See also: Carter & Bartram building.

Garry Gillard | New: 7 August, 2022 | Now: 13 August, 2022