Laurence Carter, Junior, was the most eminent member of a leading Leicester family. His father had been largely responsible for the introduction of a supply of piped water to part of the town at the end of the seventeenth century. The son was called to the Bar, was a member of Lincoln's Inn and became Recorder of Leicester in 1697. He is stated to have held this post until 1729, though he was appointed a puisne baron of the Court of Exchequer in 1726. (Judicial reorganisation in the nineteenth century abolished this particular title: an exchequer baron appears to have had a status approximating to that of a High Court Judge.) Whilst Recorder, he was elected to Parliament as a member for the Borough of Leicester in 1698 and 1701. He was unseated in 1702 because he accepted the support of the Manners family who, as Whig landowners, were considered to threaten the independence of the Tory Corporation. In 1710, 1714 and 1715 he sat as member of Beer Alston but in 1722 was again elected for Leicester. Laurence Carter was crown counsel against the rebels in 1715 and Solicitor-General to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II. He was knighted in 1724.
Throsby records a curious incident of Baron Carter's judicial career. A man whom he had sentenced to death escaped from the cart with the assistance of the crowd and (after unrecorded adventures) came to live in Redcross Street where he saved money and died a natural death. He was regarded as a respectable and useful member of society and if he or the Judge knew of one another's proximity neither, apparently, bore any malice.
Baron Carter's epitaph, in St Mary's Church, is simple, adequate and dignified. 'He was eminent in his profession and in every station of his life acquitted himself with integrity and honour'.
Where to see this painting?
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester Arts and Museums Service
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