Pearsall Carpenter

A Man of International Repute.

Pearsall Carpenter was born in Bristol into a famous Unitarian family. He trained as an optician but left this career to become a Minister. Pearsall Carpenter was a vegetarian, interested in healthy living and opposed to smoking and drinking. He campaigned to improve public health in Warrington especially the need to establish a sewerage system in the town. He established an Industrial School at Cairo Street to provide orphaned boys with a trade to equip them with skills to live an advantaged life.

A recognised authority on shells in 1855, he bought the Gulf of California shell collection and in 1857, he established the shell collection of the British Museum by donating 8,000 specimens.

In 1859 he visited the Southern states of the USA and defying threats of being tarred and feathered, he delivered a lecture against slavery. The Smithsonian Institute Annual Report 1860 states ‘we have employed a distinguished conchologist, Mr. P.P. Carpenter of Warrington, England to classify and label the collection of shells.’ This became the core of the Smithsonian’s collection of shells. In 1865 the Revd. Carpenter emigrated to Canada where he opened a school for boys and concerned himself, amongst other issues with Montreal’s sanitation problems. He died in Montreal in 1877 of typhoid.