Charles Malet de Carteret was the second son of Edward Charles Malet de Carteret, who had acted as Juge-Délégué before the appointment of Sir William Vernon as Bailiff, 35 years before Charles took office. His mother was Elizabeth Poingdestre and he was born at Mon Plaisir, St Aubin on 26 July 1869.
He was educated at Victoria College, Westmninster School and Oxford Military College. He was first in the list of cadets to pass into Sandhurst and went on to serve in Natal and Zululand. He resigned when his regiment returned to England, because he could not afford the costs involved, and took up law. He was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple and then the Jersey bar in 1898.
He practised as an Advocate and was appointed Receiver-General in 1903, Solicitor-General in 1912 and Attorney-General in 1925. He was already 62 when he succeeded Sir William Vernon in 1931, and was to serve for only four years, before failing eyesight forced him to resign and hand over to Alexander Coutanche.
Charles Malet de Carteret was a very modest and self-effacing man and did not enjoy the trappings of high office. He lived in a boarding house at Horizon View, First Tower, never married, and, although his senior, he was constantly in the shadow of Alexander Coutanche at the peak of his career. It was Coutanche who visited the Home Office, de Carteret once telling him: "My dear chap, you do what you like, but I've been a Law Officer for I can't think how many years and I don't even know where the Home Office is. I wouldn't go near the place".
In his autobiography, Coutanche described de Carteret's filing system:"Now Charles de Carteret had upon his desk a thing which he and I, in years to come, used to laugh about, called the 'brass hand'. It was a paper clip, in the form of five fingers, stretched out with a hinge at the cuff. You pressed the cuff, the fingers lifted and you put whatever it was beneath the hand and closed it down. It was Charles de Carteret's filing system! Charles had an excellent method. He used to say that, if you left letters long enough, most of them would answer themselves. So every now and again he would go through the papers in the brass hand and throw away any which was covered with dust or brown with age, and remark that 'that will never crop up again'."
Charles Malet de Carteret died in Millbrook Nursing Home on 28 January 1942.
|William Venables Vernon
|Charles Malet de Carteret