Sir Gilbert Thomas Carter (Sir Thomas Gilbert-Carter) KCMG (14 January 1848 – 18 January 1927) was an administrative officer in the Royal Navy and a colonial official for the British Empire. Starting as a Collector of Customs for the Gold Coast, he then became a Treasurer of the Gold Coast and the Gambia. Moving on to colonial administration, he started as the Administrator for the Gambia, where he dealt with the aggression of the native king of Gambia.
His next post was as Governor for the Lagos Colony where he negotiated treaties with the local chiefs which protected Christian missionaries and ending human sacrifices. He later served as the Governor for The Bahamas and Barbados and finally as the Governor for Trinidad and Tobago.
Carter became the private secretary to Sir George Berkeley, Governor of the Leeward Islands, in 1875. In August 1879, he was appointed Collector of Customs and Treasurer of the Gold Coast, an appointment he kept until 1882. From 1882 until December 1888, Carter administered the Settlement on the Gambia as a Treasurer and Postmaster. From 1886, he was acting Administrator of the Colony of the Gambia, and on 1 December 1888 he was appointed Administrator on that colony’s separation from Sierra Leone. While working in the Gambia, he was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) on 1 January 1890.
In 1891, the native King of Gambia had been organising abusive acts towards the British colonists. Carter (from his official residence in Bathurst) sent an envoy with a message that if the abuses continued, “he might expect a visit of a disciplinary nature from the marine forces of the Queen of England.” The King sent the envoy back mutilated, with a message: “This is the King’s answer.”In response, Carter sent three British gunboats to avenge the outrage upon the envoy.
His Career in Lagos (Nigeria)
Carter was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Lagos on 3 February 1891. Carter ordered an attack on the Ijebu “in the interest of civilization” in 1892.Afterwards, he continued to justify this attack as a war to end slavery and promote civilization. Carter travelled to various parts of Yorubaland, accompanied by soldiers, in an attempt to demonstrate the might of the British. Carter was not well received at Oyo, and the Egba chiefs advised him not to interfere with slavery, while the Ibadan chiefs said they were afraid that their slaves would “assert their freedom by running to the Resident” – and they refused to sign a treaty with Carter that would impose a Resident on the city.
However, in January 1893 the Egba chiefs signed a Treaty of Independence with the British Government.It was agreed that freedom of trade between the Egba Nation and Lagos was to be guaranteed by the British Government, in return for which no road would be closed without the approval of the Governor. They further agreed that complete protection and “every assistance and encouragement” would be afforded to all Christian ministers. The Crown agreed that “no annexation on any portion of Egba Nation shall be made by her Majesty’s Government without the consent of the lawful authorities of the nation, no aggressive action shall be taken against the said nation and its independence shall be fully recognized.” The Egba chiefs further promised to abolish human sacrifices. He was promoted Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) on 3 June 1893, “in recognition of his services in conducting a mission to the Yoruba country which resulted in the negotiation of important treaties and brought to an end a long-standing war.”
Carter was given Ife works of art in 1896 by the recently crowned King of Ife, Adelekan, in the hopes that a decision in his favour would be made about the resettlement of Modakeke residents outside the city. These works (including three known as the Ife marbles), were sent by Carter to Europe. While serving in Lagos, Lady Carter, his first wife, died on January 13, 1895, shortly after arriving in Lagos.
The Carter Bridge, first built in 1901 and linking Lagos Island with Iddo Island, was named after him.
Carter was transferred to Bahamas as Governor and Commander-in-Chief in 1898, and after a temporary transfer to Trinidad, in July 1904 he was transferred to the Barbados as Governor and Commander-in-Chief. Carter met an American artist (see Stamp) from Boston, Gertrude Codman Parker (6 February 1875 – 12 November 1953, Boston), in the spring of 1903 when she was travelling in the Bahamas with her parents, Francis Vose Parker and his wife.She became his second wife on 25 August 1903, when they were married in the Church of the Advent in Boston and had a son, John Codman Carter.
Carter continued working in senior colonial positions — being appointed the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Barbados and its Dependencies in 1904, and as Administrator of the Government of the Colony of Trinidad and Tobago, and its Dependencies in the absence of the Governor from 1907 until 1910, whereupon he retired.
In 1919, he changed his surname to Gilbert-Carter. In the early 1920s, he moved back to Barbados, and lived at Ilaro Court, which had been designed and built by Lady Gilbert Carter. He died there on 18 January 1927. When his will was probated on 22 March of that year, the total value of his effects was £6859 9s 11d.