Carter Surname Genealogy

Carter, an occupational name for a transporter of goods, derived from
the Middle English carte and
from the Anglo-Norman carretier
and cartier.  Supporting
the Norman origin of the name would be the present-day French surname

Carter Resources on

Carter Ancestry

earliest references to the use of Carter as a surname are in the south
of England, in Sussex and Essex in the 13th century.
Carters also came from an early time from Kent.

Bedfordshire  The
first traced family, from the 1450’s, is probably the Carters
from Kempston in Bedfordshire.  The local church has a memorial to
the seven sons and ten daughters of William Carter, placed there by his
wife Maria in 1605.

Thomas Carter from this family embarked for
America in the 1650’s.  One of his descendants is thought to be
the former US President, Jimmy Carter.  Another branch of the
family moved to Yorkshire and settled in Knottingley near
Pontefract.  Mark Carter founded a family brewing business there
in 1803.  Thie business prospered and continued as an independent
brewery until the 1930’s.  The Carter home at Lime Grove in
Knottingley still stands.

Hampshire  There
was a larger cluster of Carters in the south in Hampshire.
John Carter became a successful merchant in Portsmouth in the early
1700’s.  His son John Carter, later knighted, was
nine times mayor of
Portsmouth.  From this family has come Violet Bonham Carter, the
matriarch of the
old Liberal party, and Helena Bonham Carter, the present-day actress.

Despite these Carters from the south, the distribution of the Carter
name in England suggests a northern bias.  Some 20 percent of the
Carters in the 1891 census were to be found in Yorkshire and

AmericaThe Ransom of Mercy
tells the story of the Indian attack on the village
of Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704 and the forcible taking of the
Carter family three
hundred miles north to Quebec.  However, their father Samuel was
absent on the day of the attack and he was able to establish a new
Carter line in Norwalk (one that is recorded to Samuel Carter’s 1980
book Descendants of Samuel Carter).

Virginia  The
Carter arrival (or near-arrival) in America was in fact recorded in
1615 when a man named Carter was one of three men shipwrecked off
The earliest actual arrivals were:

  • John Carter who came in 1626, from whom
    there was a long line of descendants in Virginia.
  • two brothers from
    Hertfordshire, Thomas and John, who came in the 1630’s.  John’s
    Robert, known as “King Carter,” built the Shirley plantation on the
    James river and invested his farming profits in a
    merchant banking empire.  He became one of America’s first
  • another Carter family in Virginia traces from
    Joseph Carter in Spotsylvania in the early 1700’s.

The Carter name spread from Virginia to Tennessee, Kentucky, North and
Carolina, and Georgia.

Carters in the South
Kindred Carter, a descendant of Thomas
Carter, came to Georgia in the 1790’s.  Jimmy Carter is the
seventh generation Carter of this family to live in Georgia.
Landon Carter was a prominent early pioneer in Tennessee.  He
established his Landon
Carter plantation
on the Watauga river.  The frame
mansion that
he built in 1775 in Elizabethton (a town named after his wife) still
stands.  Charles Carter was one of the first settlers in Martin’s
Creek.  Other Carters settled in Bell and
Knox counties, Kentucky.

Amon Carter,
long-time publisher of the Fort
Worth Telegram Star
in Texas, had Tennessee roots. During
his heyday of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Carter personified the image of
the Texas cowboy in the national mind; an uninhibited story-teller,
gambler, and drinker.  The well-publicized hospitality of his
Shady Oak Farm was open to any major celebrity or businessman who was
passing through Fort Worth.

Carter family
cut their first country music record in a
studio in Tennessee in 1927.  They continued recording until the
1950’s and were an inspiration to a subsequent generation of country
music singers.  Another country singer of this era was Will
Carter, from Canada.

A more remarkable singing story has been
that of James Carter, an inmate at Mississippi’s notorious Parchman
prison who had recorded the chain-gang song Po Lazarus.  His rendition
became an unlikely American chart-topper forty years later in 2002.

Caribbean.   Edwin
Elizabeth Carter were early planters in Barbados, arriving there in the
1660’s.  The Carters ran the fertile Valley plantation in St.
parish and were closely tied to the Lascelles slave trading family.

Hawaii.  Joseph Carter was
a New Emgland sea captain who traded in the Pacific and made his home
in Hawaii before his death in 1850.  He was the forebear of one of
its most influential early families.  He himself was a descendant
of the Thomas Carter who had been ordained as the first minister of
Woburn, Massachusetts in 1640.

Western Australian author and historian Bevan
Carter has spoken about his convict ancestry.  He numbers thirty
in his family tree, including Robert Carter, a poacher sent to
Australia after a gun battle with game keepers.

Charles Carter arrived in Tasmania in the late 1820’s.  He later
moved to Victoria and successfully fought off hostile Aboriginals,
bushrangers, droughts, and bush fires as a pioneer Wimmera
settler.  Later Carter arrivals in the 1850’s included George and
Jane Carter from Scotland and miner Joseph Carter who headed for the
Victoria goldfields.

The Carter
brothers of Werribee

in Victoria were the leading egg producers of Australia in the first
half of the 20th century.

New Zealand.  Charles
Carter from Cumbria and John Carter from Cornwall were pioneer settlers
in New Zealand:

  • Charles arrived in Wellington in 1850 and was one
    of its prominent early citizens.  He took a keen interest in
    astronomy and the Carter Observatory in Wellington was named after
  • John Carter and his wife Elizabeth came to New Zealand in
    1863 and farmed at Moutoa (near Wanganui).  Their fourth son Frank
    built up a large timber business which, after his death in 1949, became
    amalgamated as the Carter Holt Harvey Company.

Carter Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Carter Names

Robert or “King” Carter was one of America’s first millionaires.
Violet Bonham Carter
, daughter of Prime Minister Herbert
Asquith, was the matriarch of the British Liberal Party in the 20th
century.   Her granddaughter is the actress, Helena Bonham
Howard Carter was the English
archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Tutankamun in 1922.
The Carter Family were the
first country music stars.

was the 39th President of the United States.
Daniel Carter is the fly-half
of the New Zealand rugby team.

Select Carters Today

  • 124,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 131,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 53,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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