Frederick Lee Carter, 1860 - 1940

by Brian Stevenson
last updated July, 2019

F.L. Carter appears to have developed a serious interest in microscopy during his days as a medical student, in the early 1880s. Beginning in 1882, he frequently posted in the exchange columns of popular scientific magazines to request trades of specimens and slides. His main interests appear to have been parasitic arthropods (lice, mites, etc.), and anatomical subjects. By 1888, he had acquired a microtome(s), and was offering to prepare and section pathological tissues provided by other people, and mount them onto microscope slides. I did not find records of Carter being involved with microscopy after 1889. He does not appear to have joined any microscopical or other scientific societies. By the end of the 1890s, Carter had moved on to other professions, including insurance brokerage and journalism, and so was probably less inclined to scientific pursuits such as microscopy. To judge from his exchange advertisements, we can reasonably date F.L. Carter’s microscope slides to ca. 1882 through ca. 1889.

Figure 1. Microscope slides prepared by F.L. Carter, or which were once in his collection. The left and center slide are of parasitic arthropods (mites and a louse). The slide on the right is a specimen of human pathology, marked as “Dr. Drummond” and “Mounted 3.10.82” - either the specimen was obtained from Drummond and mounted by Carter, or was mounted by Drummond and labeled by Carter. Illustrated slides are from the author’s collection or adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from an internet auction site.


Figure 2. “Parasite of Curlew” (a Malophaga louse), mounted by F.L. Carter (See Figure 1).


Figure 3. Examples of exchange offers posted by Frederick Carter in scientific magazines between 1882 and 1889. This time span appears to be the range of Carter’s involvement with microscopy.


Frederick Lee Carter was born during early 1860 in Durham, Sunderland, England. He was the third child, and third son, of John and Jane Carter. His mother’s maiden name was Lee, and Frederick often hyphenated his surname as Lee-Carter.

At the time of Frederick’s birth, father John was a “railway station master” in Durham. Ten years later, at the time of the 1871 national census, John had become an “inn keeper” on Nun Street, Newcastle. The family was moderately well-off: ten year-old Frederick was in school (although his 14 and 17 year-old brothers were both “assistants in the inn”), and the household included a domestic servant and a bar maid.

Father John died during the 1870s, although he appears to have left the family in a good financial condition. The 1881 census listed mother Jane as a “licenced victualler” of the Nun Street inn. The household included a house keeper, a house maid, a cook, and a general servant. Frederick was listed in the census as a “medical student”.

It was at that time that Frederick likely began his interest in microscopy. In mid-1882, he advertised in Microscopical News and Northern Microscopist, for “Correspondents … in all parts of the world to exchange microscopic slides or material”. In particular, he offered to exchange “anatomical and pathological slides, material or sections; entozoa and ectozoa, diatoms; for parasites and other slides or material of interest”. It is likely that some of his pathology and anatomy specimens came from his medical school.

By 1884, Carter was requesting “objectives, micro-appliances, material, slides, and books on micro-subjects, in exchange for other slides (anatomical, pathological, botanical, micro-fungi, fern sori, diatoms odontophores, parasites, foraminifera, polycistina, &c)”. He then listed his address as “College of Medicine, Newcastle-on-Tyne”.

In 1885, he asked for specific volumes of the popular scientific magazine Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip, offering in exchange “micro slides or British and foreign birds' skins”.

A high-quality microtome was requested in 1888, offering a “large quantity of first-class slides” in exchange. He must have obtained one, since he advertised in late 1888, “Will harden and cut the tissues, and send well-mounted slides in return, for physicians' and surgeons' own pathological material”.

Carter was last identified as being involved in microscopy in 1889, with a February exchange request in Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip for human lice, “Ped. cap., vestiminti, and pubis, and other parasites, in exchange for micro slides, or offers”. It is not known how much longer Carter remained active in microscopical studies.

The 1891 census recorded Frederick as living with his mother and siblings at their inn on Lansdowne Terrace, Newcastle. He was then described as being a “medical assistant”.

Frederick married Elizabeth Alice Frazer in 1896, in Gateshead, across the Tyne from Newcastle. The 1898 Ward’s Directory of Newcastle-on-Tyne listed him as “Carter Fred. Lee, ins. broker, 23 Lily avenue”. The 1901 census listed Frederick, Elizabeth, and their son, John, as living at 5 Primrose Hill, Gateshead, Durham. Frederick’s occupation was then listed as “living on own means”.

At this time, Frederick Carter had begun collecting antiquities. In 1898, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne reported that he exhibited “a large blue patterned earthenware teapot marked ‘oriental’ on bottom. It has a metal handle”. He wrote a description on “Thomas Berwick and his Work” in 1909.

The 1911 census gave Carter’s occupation as “journalist … worker at home”.

Frederick Lee Carter passed away in late 1940, in Newcastle.



Carter, Frederick Lee (1909) Thomas Bewick and his work, The Connoisseur, Vol. 24, pages 21-27

England census, birth, marriage, death, and other records, accessed through

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1882) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 18, pages 24, 144, 283 and 284

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1884) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 20, page 72

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1885) exchange offer from F.L. Carter, Vol. 21, page 120

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1887) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 23, pages 72, 96, and 284

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1888) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 24, pages 48, 72, and 284

Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip (1889) exchange offer from F.L. Carter, Vol. 25, page 48

The Microscope (1888) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 8, pages 96, 128, 160, and 192

Microscopical News and Northern Microscopist (1882) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 2, pages 196, 228

Proceedings of the Society of antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1898) “Exhibited by Mr. F.L. Carter of Low Fell, Gateshead: A large blue patterned earthenware teapot marked ‘oriental’ on bottom. It has a metal handle”, Vol. 8, page 206

The Scientific Enquirer (1888) exchange offers from F.L. Carter, Vol. 3, pages 39, 59

Ward’s Directory of Newcastle-on-Tyne (1898) “Carter Fred. Lee, ins. broker, 23 Lily avenue”, page 326