Thomas Carter (minister)

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19th-century painting by Albert Thompson, on display at the Woburn Public Library, depicting Thomas Carter's ordination as minister of Woburn, Massachusetts on November 22, 1642.

The Rev. Thomas Carter (1608 – 5 September 1684) was a Puritan minister who was ordained in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1642.

Carter was born in Hinderclay, Suffolk, England, and baptized there on 3 July 1608. His father was James Carter, who was buried 3 May 1625. He had an older brother, James, baptized 14 June 1603, and an older sister, Mary, baptized 25 March 1605 or 1606. He studied at St John's College, Cambridge, receiving his B.A. in 1630 and his M.A. in 1633.[1] Carter was a student at Cambridge at the same time as John Harvard, and the two probably knew each other there. Like Harvard and many other Puritans, Carter immigrated to New England as part of the Great Migration, becoming a freeman of Dedham, Massachusetts in 1637. Carter was active in the church, both at Dedham, and at Watertown, Massachusetts, where he served as an elder.

Having demonstrated spiritual gifts during his time as an elder, on November 22, 1642, Carter was ordained at Woburn, Massachusetts and he became the pastor of the Woburn congregation.

In 1638, Carter married Mary Parkhurst (1614–1687), daughter of George Parkhurst and Phoebe Leete, whose cousin William Leete became Governor of the Colony of Connecticut. Together, they had eight children: Samuel, Judith, Theopilus, Mary, Abigail, Deborah, Timothy, and Thomas.

A painting by Albert Thompson depicting the occasion of his ordination is currently displayed at the Woburn Public Library. His ordination, as the painting suggests, included all of the major ministers of Massachusetts, including John Cotton, Richard Mather, John Eliot, Edward Johnson, John Wilson, with Increase Nowell sitting in the front row.


  1. ^ "Carter, Thomas (CRTR626T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.