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Walter Carpenter (1871-1926)

Page history last edited by Jon 9 years, 11 months ago

Son of Walter Carpenter and Amelia Carpenter.

 

Born around 1871 in Lee, Kent, England[1].

 

1881: 22 Dacre Street, Lee, Kent – Scholar[2].

On the night of Sunday 3rd April 1881 Walter (9) was living with his parents Walter Carpenter (34), a chimney sweep, and Amelia Carpenter (34) and his siblings: John (6), scholar; Amelia (4), scholar; James J. (2); George C. (1).

 

Walter Carpenter (full age, bachelor), a chimney cleaner of 10 South King Street, Dublin, married Ellen Walsh (20, spinster) of 20 South Richmond Place, Dublin, on 10th June 1894 at the Roman Catholic Chapel of Saint Kevin, South Dublin[3].

 

1901: 14 Sussex Street, Kingstown, Dublin[4] - Master Chimney Cleaner[5].

On the night of the 1901 census Walter Carpenter (28) was living with his wife Ellen (26, housewife) and their sons: Walter Patrick (5, scholar) and Peter (3, no occupation)[6]. Their daughter Amelia was living with her great-aunt Mary Oakley in Dublin.

 

Walter Carpenter was one of the founder members of the Socialist Party of Ireland in 1909 and went on to become secretary of the Dublin branch in February 1911[7].

 

1911: 8 Caledon Road, North Dock, Dublin – Secretary, Socialist Party of Ireland[8].

On the night of 2nd April 1911 Walter Carpenter (39), was living with his wife Ellen (38) and their children[9]: Walter Patrick (16), a chimney clean master; Peter (13), scholar; Amelia Mary (11), scholar; Henry St George (9), scholar; Albert Edward (7), scholar; Joshua (5), scholar; Francis Hubert (3); Ellen (1).

 

Later in the year Walter was arrested and charged with ‘using language calculated to lead to a breach of the peace and with having endeavoured to degrade the King in the esteem of his subjects’ after giving a speech at a public meeting – as reported in The Times on 17th July 1911[10]:

 

‘The police swore that the accused in his speech referred to the decorations which had been put up in the streets of Dublin in honour of the Royal visit, and said, "Do you know who you are honouring? Royalty who belong to the House of Brunswick. I do not know if you know the history of that House, but I can tell you. You are honouring the offspring of one of the vilest scoundrels that ever entered our country." Carpenter was then arrested. 

 

The accused, who was not professionally represented, said that he had never incited a crowd to riot; he had always advocated political action for the working classes. In this instance he made no personal reference to the King; his reference was to a system, not to a person.’

 

Walter appeared before the Northern Police Court on 15th July 1911. The magistrate found Walter guilty and imposed a fine of 40s. After refusing to pay, Walter was sent to prison for one month.

 

The Socialist Party of Ireland held a meeting at Beresford Place on Sunday 27th August 1911 to welcome the release of Walter from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. The meeting was chaired by James Connolly who stated that he hoped that “in expressing my own sentiments in this matter I am expressing the sentiments of every man around me – that is to say, that in welcoming Carpenter on his release from prison, we take that opportunity, not only of associating ourselves with him in the crime that he committed, but of declaring our fullest sympathy, and not only our fullest sympathy, but our completely unqualified endorsement of the words for which he was sent to prison. We are to-day living in times of change – in times of what it is no exaggeration to describe as a revolution.” The words of James Connolly’s public congratulations were published in the article ‘Walter Carpenter Free’ in the Irish Worker on 2nd September 1911[11].

 

A letter from Keir Hardie, the former leader of the Labour party, was read to those gathered (as reported in The Times on 28th August 1911[12]):

 

"House of Commons, August 18.- Dear Comrade, -Unfortunately I cannot be with you on the 27th to welcome our comrade Walter Carpenter on his release from gaol. For the past 30 years every conceivable effort has been put forth by the ruling class to make the fetish of Royalty into a kind of deity in the minds of the people. On this side of the Channel they have to a very large extent been successful, especially among the smug mediocrities who constitute the bulk of the middle class. Now the thing is having its logical result in the shooting down of strikers and in turning England into a large armed camp in order to suppress and intimidate working men who are struggling to improve their conditions. The object-lesson will not be lost upon them. Wishing success to the Socialist meeting in Ireland, and with hearty congratulations to our comrade. Carpenter, on his martyrdom for the cause, yours fraternally, J. KEIR HARDIE."

 

In closing the meeting James Connolly proposed the resolution:– “That this meeting of Dublin workers tenders a cordial welcome to Mr Walter Carpenter on his release from prison, and heartily congratulates him on his timely and effective protest against the recent outburst of flunkeyism in the city”

 

In 1913 Walter Carpenter became the second General Secretary of the International Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Trade Union (succeeding Harry Miller) and led it through ‘it’s most significant period.[13] The union gave its support to the cause of national independence, including financial support for  ‘those taking strike action against the movement of war munitions by the British Army of Occupation during 1919.[14]

 

A photograph of the National Executive of the Irish TUC and Labour Party, 1914 on the National Archives of Ireland website shows Walter Carpenter. In the photograph Walter Carpenter can be seen seated first from right in the front row. Other figures in the photograph include James Connolly (standing on the far left) and Jim Larkin (seated second from right, front row)[15].

 

In the Dublin municipal elections of January 1920 Walter Carpenter was nominated as the Socialist Party of Ireland’s candidate, standing with six men from the ITGWU on a Worker's Republican platform[16].

 

Walter Carpenter became Secretary of the Socialist Party of Ireland in September 1921 and then, a month later, Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland which succeeded it (with James Connolly’s son, Roddy, as Party President). Walter also took on the editorship of the CPI paper, Workers' Republic[17].

 

Walter resigned from the position of Secretary with the Communist Party of Ireland in February 1922, explaining "the C.P. is my first love, but my union claims all my time and I cannot, under present circumstances, neglect my union"[18].

 

Walter had led the Tailors and Pressers Union until his retirement in 1925. The effect on Walter was recalled by SIPTU in 2002: “in leading this Union through all the political and industrial strife of those years, their second General Secretary also gave his all. At the end of 1925 Walter Carpenter was himself forced to retire through ill-health, before dying of heart-failure some months later, aged 55.[19]

 

Walter died in 1926[20].

 

Children:-

 

 

Footnotes

  1. Year of birth estimated from the census.
  2. 1881 Census - RG11/0731; Folio 26; Page 46
  3. Source: Marriage certificate. Walter's father is named as Walter carpenter, chimney cleaner. Ellen's father is named as Peter Walsh, chimney cleaner. The witnesses to the marriage were Patrick Shortall and Maggie Walsh.
  4. The House and Building Return (Form B1) shows that the property was classed as a third class property and had 2 rooms. Sussex Street was a mixed street with private dwellings (1st, 2nd and 3rd class), lodging houses, a store and a public library. Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) was a coastal suburb of Dublin.
  5. 1901 Census, National Archives of Ireland - http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Dublin/Kingstown/Sussex_Street/1319501/ Walter is listed as being a member of the Church of England but the rest of his family were Roman Catholic.
  6. Walter Patrick was born in the City of Dublin whilst Peter was shown as being born in South County Dublin.
  7. Source: The International Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Trade Union - as accessed at http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-MoR1.htm on 28 January 2010.
  8. Source: 1911 Census, National Archives Ireland. The census form shows that Walter could speak English and Irish. Assuming the form was completed correctly, it would indicate that the rest of the family could only speak English. The religious profession of all family members was recorded as ‘Irish Church’ with the exception of Walter who stated that he ‘Believed in the doctrine of Christ (not attached to any church)’. The full entry for the family can be seen at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Dublin/North_Dock/Caledon_Road/20608/
  9. Walter and Ellen had been married 17 years and had nine children during their marriage (up to this point) of whom eight were living.
  10. Source: Ireland. Socialist's Violent Speech - Dublin, July 16 (The Times, 17th July 1911).
  11. Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997). The text is available from the Marxists’ Internet Archive at http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1911/09/waltcarp.htm
  12. Source: Mr. Keir Hardie And Royalty. The Times, August 28th1911.
  13. Source: The International Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Trade Union as accessed at http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-MoR1.htm on 28th January 2010.
  14. Source: SIPTU Press Release - Unveiling of a Camden Street Plaque commemorating the Jewish Tailors and Pressers Union, 16 Oct 2002 as accessed at http://www.siptu.ie/PressRoom/NewsReleases/2002/Name,2578,en.html on 28th January 2010.
  15. The photograph of The National Executive of the Irish TUC and Labour Party, 1914 is availab le at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/exhibition/dublin/government_politics/James_Connolly_3.html and the citation on the website states that it has been taken from James Connolly, A Full Life by Donal Nevin (2005). Walter's great-grandson, Colin, provided the identification for Walter in the photograph.
  16. Source: Pages 217-8, Ireland in Transition, 1867-1921 by D. George Boyce (Editor), Alan O'Day (Editor). Routledge, 2004.
  17. Source: The International Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Trade Union as accessed at http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-MoR1.htm on 28th January 2010
  18. Source: The International Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Trade Union as accessed at http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-MoR1.htm on 28th January 2010
  19. Source: SIPTU Press Release - Unveiling of a Camden Street Plaque commemorating the Jewish Tailors and Pressers Union, 16 Oct 2002 as accessed at http://www.siptu.ie/PressRoom/NewsReleases/2002/Name,2578,en.html on 28th January 2010.
  20. Source: Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958.

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