Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Carpenter, George Lyndon (1872–1948)

by George Hazell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

This is a shared entry with Minnie Lindsay Carpenter

George Lyndon Carpenter (1872-1948), Salvation Army general, and Minnie Lindsay Carpenter (1873-1960), Salvationist author, were husband and wife. George was born on 20 June 1872 at Millers Forest, New South Wales, only son among six children of Tristan de Acunha Carpenter, a farmer born at sea en route to Sydney, and his wife Hannah, née Worboys, from England. George trained as a pupil-teacher, then became apprenticed to a printer on the Gloucester Gazette and by 1891 was a compositor on the Blue Mountains Express at Katoomba. From a Methodist family, with a Salvationist mother, he was a rebellious teenager but at 19 was converted. He entered the Salvation Army's training garrison in Melbourne in 1892.

Most of Carpenter's early work involved editing and publishing journals, such as the War Cry. In this work he met Minnie Lindsay Rowell, who had been born on 12 December 1873 at Bombira, near Mudgee, New South Wales, fifth child of Nicholas Rowell, a native-born farmer, and his wife Sarah, née Peters, from England. The family was Salvationist and after training in Melbourne in 1892, Minnie worked in Victoria and in Western Australia; by 1893 she commanded the Perth corps, with crowds of 1000 or more at her services. In 1896 she was transferred to the editorial staff in Melbourne. George and Minnie were married on 21 June 1899 in Melbourne by Herbert Booth.

George was involved in travelling evangelical groups and making the film Soldiers of the Cross. In addition to editing the Young Soldier and other papers, Minnie helped to found the League of Mercy and visited those in need, especially prisoners and hospital patients. Three children were born between 1901 and 1908. Their experience in editorial work led to the Carpenters' transfer in 1911 to London, where Minnie wrote the biographies of early Salvationist heroes, including The Angel Adjutant and a children's life of William Booth. In 1914 George, promoted colonel, became confidential literary secretary to General Bramwell Booth and the confidant of many Salvation Army leaders. He developed a wide circle of acquaintances but was never charged with partisanship.

By 1927 the ageing Bramwell Booth was causing anguish to many of his subordinates by his autocratic methods. Carpenter tried to help but his intervention was not welcomed and he found himself back in Australia, 'sent to the freezer' as editor of the Sydney War Cry. After Edward Higgins became general in 1929, Carpenter was again appointed to important leadership positions, including chief secretary in New South Wales and Queensland (1929) and territorial commander in South America East (1933), based in Buenos Aires, and in Canada (1937). In these appointments, both Carpenters established new ventures. George was vice-president of the High Council meeting held in London in 1934.

On 24 August 1939 he was elected international leader of the Salvation Army, although he had supported the election of a younger man. His term as fifth Salvationist general commenced on 31 October. World War II placed great demands on the leadership of a world-wide organization, but normal control was replaced by delegated authority. Carpenter relied on the local leadership, even in countries at war with Britain, and Salvationists the world over knew they could trust him. Although the leader's usual international visits were impossible, Carpenter worked hard from his headquarters in London to maintain contact, often through intermediaries in neutral countries. His facility with the pen proved its worth in his weekly bulletins in the War Cry, some later published in book form.

Each Christmas, Carpenter prepared a gift for Salvationists serving in the forces: books designed to fit into a battle dress pocket so as to be available for reading at all times. The first, New Battlegrounds, was adopted as a handbook for all Protestants in the United States of America's forces, with printings totalling one and a half million. Minnie exercised a pastoral ministry, and was world president of the Home League. One of her initiatives was a fellowship group for nurses. In addition she continued to write, publishing some sixteen books in all. The Carpenters revisited Australia in 1945.

In the aftermath of the war Carpenter began the work of reconstruction, particularly in shattered Europe. Because of the difficulties of assembling electors for the High Council, his term was extended until April 1946. Upon the appointment of his successor, he and his wife and daughter retired to Sydney, arriving in June. Carpenter died on 9 April 1948 at Earlwood. Following a Salvation Army service he was buried in Rookwood cemetery. Minnie Carpenter died on 23 November 1960 at Undercliffe, Sydney, and was also buried in Rookwood cemetery. The Carpenters' daughter and their son George, who became known as the teacher of the British prime minister Harold Wilson, survived them.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Richards, One of the Gang (Lond, 1955)
  • A. J. Gilliard, All the Days (Lond, 195?)
  • S. Carpenter, A Man of Peace in a World at War (Montville, Qld, 1993)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Aug 1939, p 12, 10 Apr 1948, p 3, 27 Mar 1976, p 19
  • Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), 9 Sept 1939, p 6
  • records held at Salvation Army Heritage Centre, Sydney.

Citation details

George Hazell, 'Carpenter, George Lyndon (1872–1948)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/carpenter-george-lyndon-12840/text23179, published in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 3 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014