Rev. Ernest Courtenay Carter

Ernest Courtenay Carter
Ernest Courtenay Carter
(Courtesy of Ioannis Georgiou)

Reverend Ernest Courtenay Carter was born in Compton, Berkshire, England on 17 February 1858.

He was the son of George Carter (b. 1813) and Catherine Courtenay (b. 1827). His father, a clergyman, hailed from Coventry, Warwickshire and his mother from Tunbridge Wells, Kent and they had married in Devonshire in 1851.

His father had previously been married to a lady named Elizabeth 1 (b. 1816) and had two children from that union: George Frederick St John (b. 1842 in Northamptonshire) and Elizabeth Joanna Louisa (b. 1845 in Kent). He was widowed around 1848. His remarriage to Catherine Courtenay resulted in four more children besides Ernest: Evelyn Howard (b. 1852), Charles William (b. 1855), Catherine (b. 1867) and Wynell Henry (b. 1869).

His family had moved to Berkshire around the early 1850s and Ernest first appears on the 1861 census living in Compton Beauchamp where his father was the rector. The family show up at that address through to the 1881 census.

Ernest was educated at Charterhouse, Holborn, London - where he appeared on the 1871 census2 - and Leamington College. In 1880 he went to St John's College, Oxford 3, showing up on the 1881 census as a lodger at Dudley Cottage on Kingston Road, Oxford when he was described as an undergraduate. He graduated with a BA in 1884 and from 1885 to 1888 he was Assistant Master at Godolphin School, Hammersmith, London. In 1888 he took Holy orders, being made deacon and taking up a position as curate of Christ Church, Mayfair. He was made priest in 1889 and between then and 1896 he was curate of Chieveley. In 1899 he moved to the East end of London to be vicar of St Jude, Whitchapel, a largely Jewish community. Between 1910 and 1911 he was president of Sion College, a London-based college, guild of parochial clergy and almshouse.

He was married in Chester in 1890 to Lillian Hughes (b. 1867), herself the daughter of a clergyman, Christian socialist and politician, Thomas Hughes. The newly married couple appeared on the 1891 census living at the Vicarage in Chieveley, Berkshire before they settled in London, appearing on the 1901 and 1911 censuses at St Jude's Vicarage, 26 Commercial Street, Whitechapel. The couple had no children.

Carter and his wife boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 244252 which had cost £26). During the voyage he was troubled by a cold and Marion Wright, whom the couple had befriended, found some medication that helped him.

On the evening of 14 April, Carter presided over a hymn service for about a hundred passengers in the second class dining saloon and he preceded each hymn with a history of the hymn and its author. Robert Douglas Norman played the piano and Marion Wright sang a solo of Lead Kindly Light. Among the other hymns sung were Eternal Father, Strong to Save (also known as For those in peril on the Sea), On the Ressurection Morning, There is a Green Hill Far Away (for which Marion Wright again sang solo) and the final hymn was Now the Day is Over.

Around 10 pm  a steward began to lay out coffee and refreshments and Reverend Carter drew the proceedings to a close by thanking the purser for the use of the Saloon and added that the ship was unusually steady and how everyone was looking forward to their arrival in New York. 'It is' he said 'the first time that there have been hymns sung on this boat on a Sunday evening, but we trust and pray it won't be the last.'

On the night of the sinking it is believed that the Carters made their way up to the boat deck during the evacuation and were offered a space in a lifeboat together. They chose to remain behind and Mrs Carter refused to leave her husband. They both died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.

A brass memorial tablet dedicated to the couple was later unveiled in St Jude's Church, Whitechapel:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ERNEST COURTENAY CARTER
BORN 17TH FEBRUARY 1858 AND VICAR OF ST JUDE'S,
WHITECHAPEL FROM NOVEMBER 1898 TO APRIL 1912
AND OF LILLIAN HIS WIFE
DAUGHTER OF THOMAS HUGHES THE AUTHOR OF TOM
BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS. BORN 3rd MARCH 1867
WHO AFTER 14 YEARS OF SELF SACRIFICE IN THE
CAUSE OF RELIGION AND HUMANITY IN THIS PARISH
MET DEATH WHEN THE TITANIC FOUNDERED IN
THE ATLANTIC AFTER COLLISION WITH AN ICEBERG
ON THE 15TH OF APRIL 1912.
"LOVELY AND PLEASANT IN THEIR LIVES
IN DEATH THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED"
SHE REFUSED TO LEAVE HIM WHEN OFFERED
A PLACE IN A BOAT

The tablet was later moved following St Jude's demolition to St Mary's village church in Longcot, Faringdon, Oxfordshire where Lillian's uncle John Hughes had previously served as vicar (photo copyight Brian Marshal,CC BY-SA 2.0).

Notes

  1. Née Pointer?
  2. The 1871 census shows a 13-year-old Ernest as an inmate at the Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse, Holborn, London.
  3. From the St. John's College, Oxford Register: 1881-2 Michaelmas Term: Carter, Ernest Coutenay (matric. MT 1880 as a non-collegiate student, migrated to St. John's College. 1881); b.17 Feb 1858, s. of George Carter, clerk in H.O.Educ. Charterhouse; Leamington Coll. BA 1884. H.O. (d.1888; p.1889): Asst. master, Godolphin S., Hammersmith 1885-8; C. Christ Church, Mayfair (1888-9); Chieveley 1889-96; V. St Jude, Whitechapel 1898; Pres. Sion Coll. 1910-11. M. 1890 Lilian Hughes. Lost in the sinking of the Titanic 15 Apr 1912
 

Pictures

Ernest Courtenay Carter
ERNEST COURTENAY CARTER
 

Articles and Stories

East Kent Gazette (1965) 
North Berks Herald (1912) 
Oxford Magazine (1912) 
Exeter Flying Post (1912) 
Bucks Free Press (1912) 
Bucks Free Press (1912) 
The Times (1912) 
Chicago Examiner (1912) 
(1901) 
(1881) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. john irving said:

    Looking for information on a passenger Rev Carter. Rumour has it that he spoke to someone in the water that later survived and went on to be a preacher because of it. Any info on this would be appreciated. Where would one go to search for this info.? Thanks John

  2. john irving said:

    Would like to know if anyone knows anything about a passenger Rev Carter? Rumour has it that before he died, in the water, he shared his faith with a fellow passenger who was later pulled form the water, and went on to be a preacher. Rev Carter may have been from Chicago??? Is there any truth to this. Where would go to verify this data?? Thanks John

  3. Richard Paola said:

    john, i think you're in the wrong folder; try posting this under "Passenger Research", you may have more luck there...the Biography section states Rev. Carter was from England.

  4. Pat Cook said:

    Hi John, I have heard the story about a man in the water, meeting up with a minister who then saved him and perished himself. However, I have always heard this was fellow Second Class Passenger Reverend John Harper. Unfortunately, just now I can't cite any sources on this - I know a book came out detailing, among the other aspects of Harper's life, this very event. Hope this is of some help. Best regards, Cook

  5. Ben Holme said:

    Hi John, Pat is quite correct to say that John Harper was the man purported to have "converted" a survivor either as the ship was sinking. Mystery still surrounds the identity of "Harper's Last Convert" but the following four-point criteria should narrow things down: 1. Must have been plucked from the sea (as opposed to leaving the ship in a lifeboat) 2. Must be a male native of Scotland 3. Not a christian prior to sailing 4. Attended the survivors meeting in 1916 in Hamilton, Ontario. Aqilla Webb wrote an excellent article on this very topic entitled "The Story of Harper's... Read full post

  6. Richard Paola said:

    Ben..you're 4th criteria peaked my interest..if i can side step for a bit if i may, being local to the area, do you have further details on the 1916 survivor meeting in Hamilton ? ... i also noticed survivors such as 3rd class Krekorian and others were all going to 108 Princess St. in Hamilton..i have access to 1911 maps of the area, and i found that Princess St. only went to 106..there was a boarding house across the street, and a mill..just wondering what the significance of 108 Princess was...were these passengers going to the boarding house most likely ?? .. thank you.

  7. john irving said:

    Thank you so much for this information. I was able to read the report adn yes I was mistaken it was Harper. Question, I'm in Toronto, and visit Hamilton often. Why Hamilton for a survivor gathering?? Why not New York or anyway else??? Just curious!! Thanks again John

  8. Ben Holme said:

    Richard and John, I'm afraid I'm not too familiar with the details at the Hamilton reunion. I know it was held at the local YMCA, and was attended by several survivors in the locality including, of course, the mystery passenger who recalled the Harper incident to others present at the gathering. Edward Beane, John Kennedy, and William John Mellors have all been suggested as possible candidates for the "Hamilton man". Best Regards, Ben

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Ioannis Georgiou, Germany

References and Sources

Oxford Magazine, 2 May 1912, Vol.XXX, No. 17, Article
North Berks Herald, 4 May 1912, Article
British Census 1881
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/780B)
St. John's College Register, Oxford
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Ernest Courtenay Carter (ref: #370, last updated: 12th January 2018, accessed 3rd July 2020 15:20:22 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/ernest-courtenay-carter.html