EDWARD HENRY CARSON, BARON CARSON, PC , PC (Ire) , KC (9 February
1854 – 22 October 1935), from 1900 to 1921 known as SIR EDWARD
CARSON, was an Irish unionist politician, barrister and judge.
Although he was from Dublin, he became the leader of the Irish
Unionist Alliance and
Ulster Unionist Party between 1910 and 1921,
held numerous positions in the Cabinet of the
* 1 Early life
* 2 As a barrister
* 3 Politics * 4 Unionism * 5 Cabinet member * 6 Judge * 7 Private life
* 8 Later years
* 8.1 State funeral
* 9 Styles of address * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
AS A BARRISTER
Carson's ceremonial dress uniform, worn on his appointment as Solicitor General for England in 1900.
In 1877 Carson was called to the Irish Bar at King\'s Inns . He gained a reputation for fearsome advocacy and supreme legal ability and became regarded as a brilliant barrister, one of the leading ones in Ireland at the time. He was also an acknowledged master of the appeal to the jury by his legal wit and oratory. He was appointed Queen\'s Counsel (Ireland) in 1889.
In 1895, he was engaged by the Marquess of Queensberry to lead his
Kevin Myers states that Carson's initial response was to refuse to take the case. Later, he discovered that Queensberry had been telling the truth about Wilde's activity and was therefore not guilty of the libel of which Wilde accused him.
Carson and Wilde had known each other when they were students at
Wilde abandoned the case when Carson announced in his opening speech for the defence that he planned to call several male prostitutes who would testify that they had had sex with Wilde, which would have rendered the libel charge unsupportable as the accusation would have been proven true. Wilde was bankrupted when he was then ordered to pay the considerable legal and detective bills Queensberry had incurred in his defence.
Based on the evidence of Queensberry's detectives and Carson's cross-examinations of Wilde at the trial, Wilde was subsequently prosecuted for gross indecency in a second trial. He was eventually found guilty and sentenced to two years' hard labour , after which he moved to France, where he died penniless.
In 1908 Carson appeared for the London _
Evening Standard _ in a libel
action brought by
George Cadbury . The _Standard_ was controlled by
Unionist interests which supported
Joseph Chamberlain 's Imperial
Preference views. The Cadbury family were Liberal supporters of free
trade and had, in 1901, purchased _The Daily News _. The _Standard_
articles alleged that Cadbury Bros Ltd., which claimed to be model
employers having created the village of
The articles alleged that George's son William had gone to São Tomé in 1901 and observed for himself the slave conditions, and that the Cadbury family had decided to continue purchasing the cocoa grown there because it was cheaper than that grown in the British colony of the Gold Coast , where labour conditions were much better, being regulated by the Colonial Office . The _Standard_ alleged that the Cadbury family knew that the reason cocoa from São Tomé was cheaper was because it was grown by slave labour. This case was regarded at the time as an important political case as Carson and the Unionists maintained that it showed the fundamental immorality of free trade. George Cadbury recovered the derisory sum of one farthing in damages in a case described as one of Carson's triumphs.
Carson was also the victorious counsel in the 1910 Archer-Shee Case , on which Terence Rattigan based his play _ The Winslow Boy _. The fictional barrister, Morton, is a somewhat different character from Carson, younger and more lively (at least as played by Robert Donat in the 1948 film version, although other actors may have played the part differently). There is however one interesting detail. At the end of the play Morton indicates he may take a continued interest in the boy’s sister, who had played a key role in the fictional case. In his account of the case, which was the last chapter of his book before his suicide, Edward Marjoribanks said that Carson’s first marriage was strained and his wife died around this time. He then married a much younger woman, Lucy Frewen, and Marjoribanks, who had help from the Carson family, says her interest in him was aroused by the Archer-Shee case. They had a son (also Edward ) born when Carson was over 60, who in 1945 became the youngest Member of Parliament but resigned after eight years for health reasons.
Carson's political career began on 20 June 1892, when he was
Solicitor-General for Ireland , although he was not then a
member of the House of Commons . He was elected as Member of
Parliament for the University of
Carson maintained his career as a barrister and was admitted to the
English Bar by
In September 1911 a huge crowd of over 50,000 people gathered to
Carson campaigned against
On Sunday 28 September 1912 'Ulster Day', he was the first signatory
Brown examines why Carson's role in 1914 made him a highly controversial figure:
“ But his commitment was unqualified, both to Ulster unionism and to its increasing extremism. Under Carson's leadership, with Craig as his lieutenant, discipline and organization were imposed on their supporters; proposed compromises were rejected; and plans were drawn up for a provisional government in the north, if the bill was passed, with its implementation to be resisted by the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, which had been armed by illegal gun-running. It is this apparent willingness to carry resistance to virtually any length, even to risk civil war, that makes Carson so controversial. ”
In a 1921 speech opposing the pending
Anglo-Irish Treaty , Carson
attacked the 'Tory intrigues' that had led him on the course that
would partition Ireland, an outcome he opposed almost as strongly as
“ "But I say to my Ulster friends, and I say it with all sincerity and solemnity: Do not be led into any such false line. Stick to your old ideals of closer and closer connection with this country. The Coalition Government, after all, is not the British nation, and the British nation will certainly see you righted. Your interests lie with Great Britain. You have helped her, and you have helped her Empire, and her Empire belongs just as much to you as it does to England. Stick to it, and trust the British people. ”
Edward Carson's statue at Stormont
On 25 May 1915, Asquith appointed Carson Attorney-General when the Coalition Government was formed after the Liberal government was brought down by the Shell Crisis . He resigned on 19 October, however, citing his opposition to Government policy on war in the Balkans. During Asquith's coalition government of 1915–1916, there was no formal opposition in either the Commons or the Lords. The only party not in Asquith's Liberal, Conservative, Labour Coalition was the Irish Nationalist Party led by John Redmond . However, this party supported the government and did not function as an Opposition. After Carson, the leading figure among the Irish Unionist allies of the Conservative Party, resigned from the coalition ministry on 19 October 1915, he then became the de facto leader of those Unionists who were not members of the government, effectively Leader of the Opposition in the Commons.
When Asquith resigned as Prime Minister, Carson returned to office on 10 December 1916 as First Lord of the Admiralty , becoming a Minister without Portfolio on 17 July 1917.
Carson was hostile to the foundation of the
League of Nations
Early in 1918, the government decided to extend conscription to
Ireland, and that Ireland would have to be given home rule in order to
make it acceptable. Carson disagreed in principle and again resigned
on 21 January. He gave up his seat at the University of
He continued to lead the Unionists, but when the Government of
Ireland Act 1920 was introduced, advised his party to work for the
exemption of six Ulster counties from
In January 1921 he met in London over three days with Father O\'Flanagan and Lord Justice Sir James O\'Connor to try to find a mutual agreement that would end the Anglo-Irish war , but without result.
After the partition of Ireland, Carson repeatedly warned Ulster
Unionist leaders not to alienate northern Catholics, as he foresaw
this would make
Lord Carson's statue at Stormont
Carson was asked to lead the Unionists during the election to become
the first Prime Minister of
Carson married twice. His first wife was Annette Kirwan from County Galway , daughter of H. Persse Kirwan, a retired County Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary . He had two sons and two daughters by his first wife (he described them as a "rum lot"), namely:
* The Hon. William Henry Lambert Carson, born 2 October 1880 * The Hon. Aileen Carson, born 13 November 1881 * The Hon. Gladys Isobel Carson, born 1885 * The Hon. Walter Seymour Carson, born 1890
The first Lady Carson died on 6 April 1913. His second wife was Ruby Frewen, a Yorkshirewoman , the daughter of Lt.-Col. Stephen Frewen. They were married on 17 September 1914; she was 29 and he was 60. They had one son:
* The Hon.
St Anne\'s Cathedral ; Carson's final resting place
Carson retired in October 1929. In July 1932, he had witnessed the
unveiling of a large statue (sculpted by L. S. Merrifield ) of himself
in front of Parliament Buildings at Stormont . The statue was unveiled
by Lord Craigavon in the presence of more than 40,000 people. The
statue was cast in bronze and placed upon a plinth. The inscription on
the base read "By the loyalists of Ulster as an expression of their
love and admiration for its subject". This was the final time he
Lord Carson lived at Cleve Court, a Queen Anne house near Minster in
Isle of Thanet ,
STYLES OF ADDRESS
* 1854–1889: Mr Edward Carson
* 1889–1892: Mr
* ^ John Brown, "Carson, Sir Edward, Baron Carson 1854-1935" in
David Loades, ed., _Reader's Guide to British History_ (2003) 1:227
* ^ Marjoribanks, _Volume One: The Life of Lord Carson_, London,
1932, p. 5
* ^ Marjoribanks, _Volume One: The Life of Lord Carson_, London,
1932, p. 6
* ^ Dickson, Brice Drewry, Gavin The Judicial House of Lords
1876-2009 Oxford University Press page 755
* ^ "University intelligence". _The Times_ (36493). London. 28 June
1901. p. 10.
* ^ ::History Learning Site::
* ^ "Law Library".
* ^ "
* ^ The New York Times Current History: The European War, Volume 12 July–September 1917 The New York Times Company Times Square New York City 1917 page 224 * ^ Henry R. Winkler, 'The Development of the League of Nations Idea in Great Britain, 1914–1919', _The Journal of Modern History_, Vol. 20, No. 2. (Jun. 1948), p. 105. * ^ "ElectionsIreland.org: Rt Hon Sir Edward Carson". _ElectionsIreland.org_. Retrieved 21 September 2014. * ^ "Memorandum by James O\'Connor of an interview with Edward Carson"; RIA, Dublin, 1993 National Archives of Ireland file UCDA P150/1902 * ^ Dudley Edwards, Ruth (29 May 2005). "Biography: Carson by Geoffrey Lewis". The Times. Retrieved 13 July 2009. * ^ Sir Charles Petrie, ‘’A Historian Looks At His World’’ (London: Sedgwick & Jackson, 1972), p. 27. * ^ Marjoribanks, _Volume One: The Life of Lord Carson_, London, 1932, p. 8 * ^ "No. 32344". _ The London Gazette _. 3 June 1921. p. 4425. * ^ Lundy, Darryl. "p. 20873 § 208726". The Peerage. * ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography * ^ Lundy, Darryl. "p. 20873 § 208725". The Peerage. * ^ "Ruby Carson (née Frewen), Lady Carson". National Portrait Gallery. * ^ "Lord Carson's Funeral". News. _The Times_ (47206). London. 28 October 1935. col A, p. 11.
* Hennessey, Thomas. _Dividing Ireland:
World War I
_ Wikimedia Commons