Select Carpenter Miscellany

Here are some Carpenter stories and accounts over the years:

Meluns and Carpenters in Hereford

A possible origin of the Carpenter family that was found in Hereford, Cornwall, and Devon by the year 1300 was a branch of the de Melun family of France which settled in England.   Subsequently a common ancestor, when surnames came into vogue, assumed the name Carpenter from his ancestor William Melun, one of the leaders of the First Crusade.  At the siege of Antioch in 1098, he so distinguished himself with his dexterity of the battleaxe that he was nicknamed "William the Carpenter."

These Counts de Melun, from Melun in France, held many possessions in England.  One of them, Robert de Melun, was Bishop of Hereford from 1164 to 1179; another became Earl of Warwick; and another was Dean of Wimborne.  So de Meluns were prominent in Hereford before 1200.  And a Hugh Carpenter was a chaplain at Hereford Cathedral in 1292.

There is a book in the British Museum entitled The Life of Lord George Carpenter.  It was published in 1736, just five years before George's death.  It was therein stated that he George was the grandson of Thomas Carpenter of the Holme in Dilwyn, Herefordshire where the family had been possessed of a considerable estate for over four hundred years (suggesting that this Carpenter family had been there by 1300).

Reader Feedback - Meluns and Carpenters in Hereford

I have found an error in your article, Meluns and Carpenters in Hereford.  William, in fact, received his nickname "The Carpenter" in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.  This occurred after losing his mount (horse) and all of his weaponry.  In order to survive he picked up an English battleaxe and commenced hacking his opponents to death.  His comrades, seeing the weighty blows he delivered to the enemy, were reminded of a carpenter swinging his hammer.  That is how the nickname came about. 

With regard to two of his descendants, William, Sr. and William, Jr, you may find it interesting to note that William, Jr. became a Captain of the Army and, through his five sons, became known as the father of "The Family of Heroes."  Over 300 of his male lineal descendants served America in the Revolutionary War, more than any other American family.  

Larry Carpenter (

John Carpenter, Town Clerk

John Carpenter was one of the most famous of the Town Clerks of London and was the author of the first book of English common law (called Liber Albus or The White Book).  The statue of John Carpenter shows him holding this book.

On his death he had bequeathed land to the Corporation of London intended to fund the maintenance of four boys born within the city.  They would be called "Carpenter's children."  This later became the City of London School for Boys.

Carpenters from Berkshire to America

Two William Carpenters, senior and junior, had resided in the Berkshire village of Shalbourne, just outside Hungerford.  Manor records in Culham, Oxfordshire contain a number of references to a father-son William Carpenter and William Carpenter senior had been a resident of Shalbourne since 1608.  His appearance there coincided with a childless Thomas Carpenter and his wife in Hungerford.  William Carpenter junior married Abigail Briant in Shalbourne in 1625.

The Carpenters had inhabited Culham as a prosperous yeoman family from 1533 when Thomas Carpenter was a tenant of the Abbey of Abingdon.  Carpenter tenants of the abbey had extended back to the 1400's.  A William Carpenter had served as an Assessor of Fines at the Culham manor court.  This William Carpenter educated his son Robert at Oxford for the Church.  It is thought that many of Robert's books may well have made their way to Massachusetts in the possession of William Carpenter junior.

William Carpenter's Will, 1659

"In the name of God, Amen, I William Carpenter of Rohoboth, being in perfect memory at present, blessed be God, do make my last Will and Terstament.

I give to my son, John Carpenter, one mare being the old white mare, and my best doublet and my handsomest coat, and new cloth to make him a pair of breeches.  I give unto his son beside twenty shillings to buy himself a calf.  I give to him Mr. Ainsworth's upon the five books of Moses, Canticles, and Psalms, and Mr. Brightman on Revalations, and my concordance.

I give to my son William, the young gray mare of two yearling colts, and five pounds in sugar or wampum, and my coat, and one suit of apparel, and Mr. Mahew on the four Evangelists upon the 14 chapters of Paul.  I give to him my Latin books, my Greek grammar and Hebrew grammar and my Greek Lexicon, and I give him ten pounds of cotton wool, and to his son John twenty shillings to be paid to him ayear after my decease.

I give to my son Joseph, two of the youngest steers of the four that were brought to work this year, and to his son Joseph twenty shillings and to Joseph I give one of Perkins' works and of Barrows upon private contentions called harts divisions.  I give to Joseph a suit of better cloths to be given at his mother's discretion, and I give him a green serge coat and ten pounds of cotton wool, and a matchlock gun.

I give to my daughter Hannah, half of my Common at Pawtuxet, and one third of my impropriate, only my meadow excepted, and that land that I had laid out to cousin that I had for the low lands cousin Carpenter that I had by.  I give to my daughter Hannah one yearling heifer, also I give to Hannah her Bible, the practice of piety and the volume of prayer, and one ewe at the island, and twenty pounds of cotton, and six pounds of wool.

I give to my son Abiah, the rest of my lands at Pawtuxet, and the meadow after my decease, and his mother and Samuel to help him to build a house because Samuel has a house built already.  Only if my wife marry again, she shall have nothing to do with that land.

I give to my daughter Abigail, one young mare, a three year old bay mare, and if the mare should be dead at spring, she shall have fifteen pounds in her stead within one year after my decease.

I give twenty shillings to John Titus, his for to be paid a year after my decease, but if John Titus comes to dwell and take the house and land which I sent him word he shall have if he come, then he shall have the land and not the money.

I give to my son Samuel one half my land which I now live upon (and two pens of the young sheep, two cows, one bull) and he now lives on, with his furniture and half of my working tools, and Samuel to have one book of Psams, a Dictionary, and a gun and my best coat, and one ewe at the island.

I give to my wife the other half of the land I now live upon for her lifetime, and the use of my household stuff, carts and plows if she marry not.  But if she marry, she shall have a third part in my land and Samuel the rest, and she shall have four oxen, one mare which is called a black mare, four cows, one bed and its furniture, one pot, one good kettle and one little, and one skillet, and half of the pewter her lifetime and then to give it up to the children, and if she does not marry, to have the rest of my land at Pawtuxet which remaineth, that which is left which is not given to my daughter Hannah and that which is left Abiah to have after my wife's decease, if she marry to have it the next year after. 

I give to my wife those books of Perkins called Christ's sermon on the Mount, the good Bible, Burroughs Jewell of Contentment, the Oil of Gladness.  I give her two hundred of sugar.  My wife is to have the house I now lodge in and the chamber over, and to have liberty to come to the fire and do her occasions, and she shall have the meadow that was made in John Titus' lot because it is near, and she is to have a way to the swamp through the lot.  And if John Titus come, Samuel is to have two acres out of his lot that is not broken up and my wife is to have the rest, and Samuel to break it up for her.  Also I give to my wife corn towards housekeeping and the cloth in the house toward the clothing itself and children with her, and twine that she hath to serve towards housekeeping and three acres at the island.   

I give to Abiah a yearling mare colt being the white mare's colt, and one yearling heifer, and Dr. Jarvis' Catechism and Helen's History of the World, and one ewe about my wife's occasion when she was at the island.

When the legacies are paid out, the remainder is to be disposed among the children at the discretion of my wife and the overseers.

This is my Will and Testament to which I set my hand.  William Carpenter of Rohoboth, the day and year before written.  I make my wife the executrix and my overseer to be Richard Bowen, and John Allen shall be helpful to my wife, and I appoint my brother Carpenter to help and to have ten shillings for their pains."

Mathias Zimmerman/Carpenter

There were hundreds if not thousands of German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700's named Zimmerman or some variation thereof, of which many would have been called Mathias.  This Mathias, born in the early 1750's, probably started his life in Lancaster, Bucks, Berks, or York county, Pennsylvania.  Whoever his parents were, Mathias Zimmerman apparently left them in Pennsylvania and headed south to the Moravian settlement at Salem in North Carolina.  He worked there, true to his name, as a carpenter and married Elizabeth Miller in 1769.

His name appeared in the diary of Minister Soelle of the Moravians who was travelling the area in 1772. Mathias had by then become a captain in the county militia and was much opposed to the brethren.  He was one of the leaders in the movement to keep Soelle out of the Deep Creek meeting house, claiming that only Lutherans or Reformed should be allowed to use it.

By 1775 he had anglicized his name to Carpenter.  Perhaps he did this to fit in better with his English and Scots-Irish neighbors and to reflect a growing American pride at a time when the revolution against English rule was beginning.  Later  he staked out 400 acres at Hunting Creek in Surry county, appearing on the 1782 tax list and 1786 census there.  His father-in-law Christian Miller lived nearby.

Alfred Carpenter and His VC

Alfred Carpenter had been born into a Cornish naval family.  His grandfather had been Commander Charles Carpenter who had been involved in the capture of the American privateer, the Rattlesnake, in 1814. 

Having joined the Royal Navy in 1896, he distinguished himself during the assault on the port of Zeebrugge on St George's Day 1918 whilst in command of HMS Vindictive.  He had navigated the ship through mined waters, bringing it alongside the Mole in darkness.  When the Vindictive was within a few yards of the Mole, the enemy started and maintained a heavy fire from batteries, machine-guns and rifles.  Captain Carpenter supervised the landing from Vindictive onto the Mole, walking the decks and encouraging the men.  His power of command, personal bearing and encouragement to those under him were seen to have contributed greatly to the success of the operation; and he was awarded the Victoria Cross by ballot, elected by his fellow officers under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant of 1856.

In 1921 his book The Blocking Of Zeebrugge was published, giving his own account of Operation ZB and the way the blocking operation was carried out.  As his position was one of a "front row seat," this must probably be the most authentic version of the action.

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