Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Andrew Carlton (1909–1951)

by James Brock Rowe

This article was published:

James Andrew Carlton (1909-1951), athlete, was born on 10 February 1909 at South Lismore, New South Wales, eldest son of native-born parents Vincent Leslie Carlton, butcher, and his wife Catherine Mary, née Brennan. He was educated by the Marist Brothers at Lismore and at their high school, Darlinghurst, then at St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill. He matriculated in 1927, winning an exhibition in law at the University of Sydney. In 1929 he lived at St John's College and studied first-year arts as an evening student, then took a post in life assurance.

In 1924 at St Joseph's 'Jimmy' Carlton won the junior 100, 220, and 440 yards events, and in 1925-27 the senior treble at the Great Public Schools' championships, establishing records in all three events. He became the first schoolboy in New South Wales to run 100 yards in 10 seconds in 1927, and on the same day ran 220 yards in 21.8 seconds: both records lasted twenty-nine years. That year Carlton was the youngest athlete to that time to win the two sprints at the New South Wales and Australian championships. He repeated the double in 1928 and 1929. With the Botany Harriers, he improved in physique, stamina and style: of medium height, he was strongly built with broad shoulders, powerful arms and well-developed torso and legs. A relatively slow starter, he overcame the problem of body roll and had a powerful driving finish.

At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games, Carlton failed to reach top form because of illness and was defeated in the 100 and 200 metres semi-finals. In 1931 at Newcastle, New South Wales, he equalled Eddie Tolan's world record of 9.4 seconds for 100 yards, but the run was not recognized as there were only two timekeepers. However, in December 1930 at the Sydney Cricket Ground he set an Australian record, which lasted twenty-three years, of 9.6 seconds. In January 1932 at the Australian Championships he ran 220 yards in 20.6 seconds on a curved grass track, but the time was not recognized because of wind assistance. He was also a successful Rugby Union wing three-quarter, playing for St Joseph's College, and for New South Wales in 1930.

Although certain of selection for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Carlton decided to train for the priesthood. He was ordained as a missionary priest at Croydon, Victoria, in 1939, and entered the Sacred Heart Monastery, Kensington, New South Wales. He left the priesthood in 1945 and on 10 April at St Paul's Church of England, Chatswood, Sydney, married Enid Alison Symington, a stenographer. After living in Melbourne, Carlton returned to Sydney in 1947 and taught mathematics at Barker College. Next year he was appointed a selector and coach for the New South Wales Amateur Athletic Association. He devoted most of his spare time to helping young athletes and also wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Survived by his wife and two infant sons, Carlton died of asthma at his home at Waitara, Sydney, on 4 April 1951 and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Northern Suburbs cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • St Joseph's College Magazine, 1925-27
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Nov 1927, 27, 28 Jan 1930, 27 Jan, 16 Nov 1931, 19, 21 Jan 1932, 17 Aug 1945, 6 Apr 1951
  • newsclippings (St Joseph's College Archives, Hunters Hill, Sydney).

Citation details

James Brock Rowe, 'Carlton, James Andrew (1909–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 February, 1909
Lismore, New South Wales, Australia


4 April, 1951 (aged 42)
Waitara, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.