Lant Carpenter

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Dr. Lant Carpenter
Born (1780-09-02)2 September 1780
Kidderminster, England
Died 5 April 1840(1840-04-05) (aged 59)
at sea, en route to Marseille
Residence London, England
Years active 1799–1840
Known for Educator and Unitarian minister
Parents George Carpenter, Mary Hooke
Relatives Mary Carpenter (daughter)
William Benjamin Carpenter (son)
Russell Lant Carpenter (son)
Philip Pearsall Carpenter (son)
Signature LantCarpenterSig.jpg

Lant Carpenter, Dr. (2 September 1780 – 5 or 6 April 1840) was an English educator and Unitarian minister.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lant Carpenter was born in Kidderminster, the third son of George Carpenter and his wife Mary (Hooke).[2][3] He was christened on 2 September 1780 in Kidderminster. His parents separated after his father's business failed, and Nicholas Pearsall, his mother's guardian and a Unitarian, saw to his education. For two years from age 13 he was at Stourbridge, taught by his uncle the Rev. Benjamin Carpenter, then returning to Kidderminster where he was at a school founded by Pearsall, and was taught by William Blake. After some months at Northampton Academy under John Horsey, Carpenter transferred to the University of Glasgow and then joined the ministry.[4][5][6] After a short time as assistant master at a Unitarian school near Birmingham, in 1802 he was appointed librarian at the Liverpool Athenaeum.


In 1805 Carpenter became pastor of a chapel in Exeter. He moved to Bristol in 1817, to take up a post as minister at the Unitarian chapel in Lewin's Mead. At both Bristol and Exeter he was also engaged in school work, among his Bristol pupils being Harriet and James Martineau, Samuel Greg, and the Westminster Review's John Bowring.

Lant Carpenter did much to broaden the spirit of English Unitarianism. He believed in the essential lawfulness of the creation. This meant that natural causes were the explanation of the world as we find it. The rite of baptism seemed to him a superstition and he substituted for it a form of infant dedication.

Last years[edit]

Carpenter's health broke down in 1839 and he was ordered to travel. He was drowned on 5 or 6 April 1840, having been washed overboard from the steamer in which he was travelling from Livorno to Marseille.[7] His body washed ashore about two months later near the Porto d'Anzio and was buried on the beach.[8]

Lant Carpenter


In 1820, Carpenter authored An Examination of the Charges made Against Unitarians and Unitarianism. A collection of his sermons were published in 1840 as Sermons on Practical Subjects. For Rees's Cyclopaedia he contributed the articles on Education, Vol 12, (1809); Language, Vol 20, (1812); and Mental & Moral Philosophy, Vol 23, (1812/13).


Lant Carpenter married Anna or Hannah Penn, daughter of John Penn and Mary, in 1806 in Worcester. Anna was christened on 11 May 1787 in Bromsgrove, Worcester.[9]

Their marriage had the following issue:

  1. Mary Carpenter was born on 3 April 1807 in Exeter. She died on 14 June 1877 and was buried in Arno's Vale, Bristol. Mary was founder of the ragged school movement.[10]
  2. Anna Carpenter, born 17 September 1808.
  3. Susan Carpenter, born 19 April 1811.
  4. William Benjamin Carpenter was born on 29 October 1813 in Exeter. He died on 19 November 1885 in London, and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.
  5. Russell Lant Carpenter was born in 1816 in Kidderminster and was christened in Devonshire. He died in 1892.[11]
  6. Philip Pearsall Carpenter was born on 4 November 1819 in Bristol, Somerset, England. He died on 24 May 1877 in Montreal, Canada, of typhoid fever. He was an ordained minister and a noted conchologist.


"The wise and active conquer difficulties
By daring to attempt them. Sloth and Folly
shiver and shrink at the sight of toil and danger,
And make the impossibilities they fear."

Lant Carpenter, about 1800, from page 14, Memoirs of the Life of Rev. Lant Carpenter, LL.D.[2]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th ed. 1911, separate volumes in Djvu and text formats, on the Internet Archive
  2. ^ a b Carpenter, Russell Lant, B.A. (1842). Memoirs of the Life of Rev. Lant Carpenter, LL.D.. England: Green, Newgate Street, London, England and Philip and Evans, Calre Street, Bristol, England (Google books online. 
  3. ^ Carpenter, Russell Lant, B.A.; Mary Carpenter (Abridger) (1875). Memoir of the Rev. Lant Carpenter, LL.D.. England: E. T. Whitfield, 178 Strand, W. C., London, England. 
  4. ^ Ditchfield, G. M. "Carpenter, Lant". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/4731.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Robert Aspland (1842). The Christian reformer; or, Unitarian magazine and review. p. 229. 
  6. ^ Larsen, Timothy A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians 2011 "Lant Carpenter recurringly found himself in Unitarian contexts in which he was considered the liberal. At the age of seventeen, he entered Northampton Academy. Here, Arianism was taught (the belief that Jesus was the incarnation of a pre-existent, exalted being who is, ... Lant Carpenter, however, was identified as 'a determined Socinian' "
  7. ^ See British National Record Archives: [1] Historical Manuscripts Commission, UK National Register of Archives, Lant Carpenter,(1780–1840) Unitarian minister, 1799–1877: corresp (1 bundle, c. 203 items), Oxford University: Harris Manchester College Library, Reference: MSS Lant Carpenter, NRA 19870 Manchester Coll, see HMC Papers of British churchmen 1780-1940, 1987.
  8. ^  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Carpenter, Lant". Dictionary of National Biography 9. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 157–159. 
  9. ^ Carpenters' Encyclopedia of Carpenters 2009, data DVD. Genealogy and family history of the Carpenter and related families. By John R. Carpenter. Subject is RIN 25561.
  10. ^ Mentioned in brother William's insert in the "Dictionary of Scientific Biography" by Charles Coulton Gillispie.
  11. ^ See British National Record Archives: [2] Historical Manuscripts Commission, UK National Register of Archives, Russell Lant Carpenter, (1816–1892) Unitarian minister, correspondence and papers, Oxford University: Harris Manchester College Library, Reference : MSS [R] L Carpenter, see Catalogue of manuscripts in Harris Manchester College Oxford, 1998.