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John Carter - Lambourn Arsonist


Lambourn Arsonist


John Carter 3 Website


John Carter, set fire to the stables belonging to The Red Lion after a row with his employer over extra wages. For this and other acts of arson, he was found guilty and hanged in Reading prison. He was the last person hanged for arson in this country and was buried in Lambourn churchyard where his stone tells the story as a warning to all.

The tomb-stone can be seen close to the railings on the North side of the churchyard which reads:



Lies the body


of this parish, labourer,

who in defiance of the laws

of God and man

wilfully and maliciously

set fire in two places to this town of Lambourn

on the 19th day of November 1832

and was executed at Reading

in the 30th year of his age

on the 16th day of March 1833

having desired that his body

might be interred here as a warning to his companions

and others who may hereafter

read this memorial to his

untimely end.

The wages of sin is death

Repent and turn yourselves from

All your transgressions and so iniquity

Shall not be your ruin


John Carter 4



John Carter2 Website


His crime was to set fire to a pub and other buildings in the centre of Lambourn.  This resulted in the devastation of several buildings and in the death of horses in the adjoining stables.  He had been married for only a year and was father to two young children.  He had involved three other local men who were acquitted. 

The full trial reports can be read here


Report from Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette.

Villager, John Carter, Lambourn Incendiaries.

March 1833
It will be recollected that John Carter, convicted of arson, at Lambourn, was executed on Saturday the 16th inst. In the evening of Friday, the day previous to his execution, three effigies intending to represent Robert Chivers, who had been Carter's accomplice, but was admitted an approver for the Crown, and Wm.Winkworth, and Henry Rider, who had been charged as accessories' before the fact, but acquitted, were placed in a cart drawn by one horse, and paraded through the streets of Lambourn, having a person in the cart intended to represent "Jack Ketch;" after which a mock trial of the three individuals was held in the Market-place. They were found Guilty, - and from thence removed to an execution, near the town, and within the sight of the scene of their crimes, where they were hanged, and afterwards burnt. - Seldom if ever, was there such a number of agricultural labourers seen assembled together in Lambourn; the market place was literally crammed, and the whole proceedings were conducted with a solemnity which would not have disgraced a more awful tribunal : a proof that the agricultural labourers generally, like other honest men, abhor the crime for which Carter suffered Lambourn Arsonist, was the last man to be hanged at Reading gaol.

 General information:

John Carter (son of John Carter and Elizabeth Harper) was born 1802 in Lambourn, Berkshire, and died 16th March 1833 in reading Gaol. He married Elizabeth Ball on 28th November 1831 in Lambourn Berkshire, daughter of Robert Ball and Hannah Locke.

Children of John Carter and Elizabeth Ball were:

William Carter b 1830

Hannah Carter b 1832


Liz Beard 2017