Retirement

Thomas Carter’s years as Warden of the Convent were, from a public point of view, eneventful. He faithfully ministered to the Sisters and he exercised a loving oversight of the many branch institutions in various parts of the country, and, indeed, in other parts of the world.

However, those years were immensely productive in terms of his literary output, and his writings exerted an enormous influence over the Church at large.

From the time of his retirement Carter was responsible for close on 40 publications. Some of these were aids to prayer, some dealt with theological matters. In the first category were (for example) his Book of Family Prayer and (most famously in its time) A Treasury of Devotion which, by the time Carter died, had gone into eleven editions.

In the second category were his Parish Teachings (Series 1 and 2) and The Roman Question. He also published a number of biographies. These included a Life of Harriet Monsell, the first Mother Superior of the Clewer Convent, and Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) who founded a community of married people at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire. He also wrote (in 1896) a Life of John Kettlewell, (1653-95) who was a “Nonjuror”. These were the clergy who, after 1688, would not take the Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary on the grounds that by doing so they would be breaking their oath to James II and his successors. John Kettlewell was, because of his writings, deprived of his living in 1690 and spent his remaining years in writing books of devotrion and controversial tracts. Thus can be seen, in Carter’s chice of subjects, affinities with his own beliefs and experience.

In those days theological writings were of intense interest to the educated public, and so it happened that Carter’s influence, in the Church at large, grew enormously during the years when he was othewise out of the public eye.

Denis Shaw

FOOTNOTE: In my copy of The Priest’s Prayerbook, which is dated 1921 (pub. Longmans, Green & Co.) there is a list of “recommended books” and five of these are by T.T.Carter.

D.S.