Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos

William Carter was born on 21 January 1820 in Handsworth, Birmingham, son of George Carter, a merchant, and his wife Mary. He became a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1841 and Member of the Royal College of Surgeons the following year. He seems to have moved around quite a lot, perhaps searching for a place where he particularly wanted to live and/or set up in practice. For some time he was in general practice at New Brentford, Middlesex, but by 1860 his address was given as Bayswater. In 1861 he and his family were living in Common Fields, Epsom, although he still seems to have been working in Bayswater. There were three children, all born in different places.

The reason I am racing through William Carter is that his career was cut short by his death on 11 February 1862, which prepares the ground for, and more or less dates, the photos to come. Mrs Carter was Eleanor Davies, daughter of wine merchant Robert Davies and his wife Eleanor. William and Eleanor were married on 8 July 1848 at St Mary, Ealing, when the latter was still under 21. The children were Helen Catherine (born 1850 Brentford), George Lyle (5 December 1852 Clapham - an earlier George Lyle, born in 1849, had died in 1850) and Emily (1856 Wantage). And so to the photos. Mrs Carter is clearly in mourning here, so the image would have been taken after her husband died in February 1862 and by March 1863 (I will come to the reason for that date in a moment).

Mrs Eleanor Carter and daughter Emily
Mrs Eleanor Carter and daughter Emily
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Emily Carter
Emily Carter
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Helen Catherine Carter
Helen Catherine Carter
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Note: The original proposition in the catalogue was that these people were probably called Coster, but, having seen the handwritten wrappers for the glass negatives, I think they are Carter - the handwriting is bad and could easily be read as Coster. I cannot find any Coster family in Epsom/Ewell or surrounding areas who would fit the bill.

In another blow for Mrs Carter, Helen Catherine died on 30 March 1863, aged just 12 years 4 months, and was buried at St Martin's with her father.

The Carter Family Headstone in St Martin's graveyard
The Carter Family Headstone in St Martin's graveyard c.1970
Image source Bourne Hall Museum

There is no indication that there was significant money in William Carter's family and Eleanor had to take up employment as a governess cum schoolteacher. George was a pupil at Epsom College and, according to the College Archives, he left in 1870 to become a law student, but he had a variety of occupations thereafter.

Continuing with Eleanor, she was still in Epsom (Laburnum Road) in the 1871 census, along with George; Emily was attending a large private school in Carleton Road, Islington, called Queen's College. Eleanor had disappeared from Epsom by the time Kelly's Directory for 1875 came out (the previous one had been for 1867) and it looks as if she had moved to Wallington, where she was in the 1881 census, with Emily, an assistant and three pupils.

By 1891 Eleanor and Emily had relocated to a flat in Kensington. Eleanor had presumably retired from her occupation and Emily was described as an artist (sculpture). Another move had taken place by 1901 - to Barnes, where they were living in a house with Eleanor's niece, Gertrude Mary Carter.

I don't know where the ladies were in the 1911 census (probably victims of a major transcription error!), but it seems as if Eleanor died in Paddington district in 1915, aged 87. Emily lived on until 26 April 1935, then residing at 195 Maida Vale. Probate was granted to her niece, Mrs Mary Georgina Norris (daughter of George Lyle Carter).

That brings us round to George Lyle Carter and his varied career. His first venture seems to have been as a manufacturing jeweller. In the 1881 census he was in Sutton, Suffolk with his widowed uncle Frederick, a retired Surgeon-Major of the Bengal Army. Frederick was the father of the previously mentioned Gertrude Mary Carter, so there is every indication that the two families were close. Frederick's wife had been Agnes Jane Emmott, the daughter of an Egham doctor, and they were married in India on 25 January 1872. Gertrude Mary was born that same year in India and their second child, Frederick Hugh, was born in Egham in 1874. I think Agnes died as a result of that birth. Frederick Hugh became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry and died of diphtheria on 15 September 1895 at Mhow (now known as Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) in Central India. Frederick Senior had by then moved to Ongar, Essex and died in January 1916. The last definite sighting of Gertrude was in the 1911 census, when she was living with an elderly aunt in Hastings.

Returning to George Lyle Carter, two things happened in 1881: his jewellery business, based in Birmingham, was wound up and he resigned his commission in the 1st Warwickshire Rifle Corps, a Volunteer regiment. On 7 April 1885, described as a merchant, he married Annie Elizabeth Hornsby. The 1891 census saw them in Edgbaston, with George now a 'brewer's agent etc.' and two children - the Mary Georgina mentioned earlier (born 1886) and George Frederick (1888). We have a story to come with George Frederick, so stay with me.

1901 found the family in Solihull and by 1911 George Lyle, now retired, and Annie were living at West Looe, Cornwall. Mary Georgina had married a naval officer, David Thomas Norris, who had a very distinguished career and ended up as an Admiral.

George Lyle, then living in Salcombe, Devon, died on 6 August 1921, leaving effects of £ 28.50; Annie died in Dorset in 1937. Mary Georgina Norris survived until 1959.

And so to the tale of George Frederick Carter, which is brought to you by the Daily Herald Newspaper of 9 August 1933.



The last tragic chapter has been written to a wartime romance with the shooting in South America of George Frederick Carter, aged 45, a British employee of the London and South America Bank. Mr Carter's Belgian wife, Lucienne Tomasite, has been arrested in Montevideo after telling the police that he constantly ill-treated her.

The dead man's aged mother lies prostrate with grief in the Dorset town of Sherborne.

Mr Carter, who left Birmingham for South America as a young man, had married twice, his first wife dying in 1914 after giving birth to a son.

War broke out and Mr Carter came over to fight in France, leaving his son with his mother. He was wounded and fell in love with Lucienne Tomasite, the girl who nursed him back to health in a Belgian hospital. The couple married and after the war returned to Montevideo. The son, now aged 19, left England to rejoin his father only last year.

News of the tragedy was broken to Mr Carter's mother by his sister, wife of Vice-Admiral D.T. Norris.

Lucienne was charged with homicide; the police alleged that she was a dipsomaniac and unbalanced and that she had shot her husband three times at point-blank range. I don't know what happened to her ultimately, but it's safe to say that things would not have ended well for her.

Linda Jackson 2018