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Carter, Arthur John (1847–1917)

by Betty Crouchley

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Arthur John Carter (1847-1917), businessman, was born on 27 September 1847 at St Ives, Huntingdonshire, England, son of Charles Carter, Wesleyan minister, and his wife Margaret, née Jarvis. Educated at Woodhouse Grove School, Yorkshire, Bedford Modern School and King's College, London, he lived briefly in France before entering the underwriters' room of Lloyd's of London in 1863. He married Jane Nodes in London in February 1867 and in January 1871 reached Brisbane by the Light Brigade. His wife died in May, leaving him with three young sons; on 9 November 1872 he married a widow Frances Eliza Elgin Koch, née Johnson.

Carter soon joined the merchants J. & G. Harris and worked for them till 1876. He subsequently became Brisbane manager of the Adelaide Milling & Mercantile Co., and held directorships in Millaquin Sugar Co., John Hicks & Co., Dath Henderson & Co. and J. Leutenegger Ltd, and was chairman of directors of E. Rich & Co. Ltd and of Queensland Trustees Ltd. He was also agent for several overseas insurance companies.

Emulating George Harris, Carter became vice-consul for Sweden and Norway, consular agent for France in 1902 and consul for Norway in 1906. He was made an officer of the French Academy in 1911 and next year received the Norwegian Order of St Olav. He was president of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce for five terms between 1898 and 1906, and was active in the Immigration League of Queensland, the Committee of Fire Underwriters, the Marine Board, the Brisbane and South Brisbane fire brigades, the General Hospital, the Technical College, and the State committee for the selection of Rhodes Scholars. A foundation member of the Johnsonian Club and a member of the Queensland Club, he was also an active Freemason. He wrote frequently to the press on defence, port facilities and bimetallism and was an energetic and effective lobbyist. Portly, urbane and genial, a kindly employer, popular and respected, he was an acknowledged leader of Brisbane's commercial community.

Carter was a liberal, a free trader and one of the few ardent Federationists in Brisbane commerce. As a leader of the Federation League he visited Sydney for the June 1899 referendum and represented Queensland here at the free-trade conference of February 1900. Appointed to the Legislative Council in July 1901, he spoke rarely but attended regularly.

When the T. J. Ryan government in 1915 proposed amendment of the Workers' Compensation Act to give the State Government Insurance Office a monopoly, Carter was a leading opponent on behalf of private insurance interests. The council amended the bill to remove the monopoly but Carter's failure to secure a consequential amendment negated the victory. The government refused to resubmit the bill on the ground that it was ready for royal assent, thus achieving a major triumph and damaging the council's reputation as a house of review.

Carter only spoke once more in the council, on an insurance bill in December 1916. Survived by his wife and their five children, and by one son of his first marriage, he died of cirrhosis of the liver on 4 November 1917 at his home at Kangaroo Point and was buried in the South Brisbane cemetery. He is commemorated by a plaque in St Mary's Anglican Church, Kangaroo Point,where he was a churchwarden. His estate was sworn for probate at £12,392.

His son Hubert Reginald (1875-1934) was born in Brisbane on 31 January 1875. Educated at Brisbane Grammar School, he qualified as a solicitor but in 1893 entered his father's business. A volunteer soldier in the Moreton Regiment, he served in South Africa as a captain in the 5th (Queensland Imperial Bushmen's) Contingent and was severely wounded on 4 January 1902. As a major in the 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, he served on Gallipoli until he was wounded again on 10 August 1915, then became a transport officer. He was second State president of the Returned Sailors' & Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia in 1918-19 and was promoted honorary lieutenant-colonel. He died at Kangaroo Point on 14 July 1934.

Select Bibliography

  • Queenslanders as We See 'Em (Brisb, 1916)
  • D. J. Murphy, T. J. Ryan (Brisb, 1975)
  • Annual Review of Queensland, vol 1, no 1, 1902
  • Queensland Trustees Ltd, Trustees' Quarterly Review, Jan 1918
  • Brisbane Courier, 6, 7 Nov 1917
  • Queenslander, 10 Nov 1917, 19 July 1934
  • GOV/69, 20 Jan 1916, 17 Dec 1917 (Queensland State Archives)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Betty Crouchley, 'Carter, Arthur John (1847–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/carter-arthur-john-5521/text9401, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 27 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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