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Talk:William Carpenter

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Template:Infobox person William Carpenter (February 25, 1830 – September 1, 1896), an English printer and author was a proponent of the Flat Earth theory active in England and the United States in the nineteenth century.[1] Carpenter immigrated to the United States and continued his advocacy of the Flat Earth movement.


Carpenter was born on February 25, 1830 in Greenwich, Kent, England and he was baptized on April 30, 1830 at Maize Hill, formerly known as Bethel - Independent in Greenwich. He was the eldest son of Samuel Carpenter and Lucy Moss. He married Annie Gillett January/March 1853 and they eventually had six children.[2]

In Greenwich, Carpenter became a printer and stenographer by profession. In 1879, he moved from England to Baltimore, Maryland, where he continued his work as a printer. The 1880 U.S. federal census shows him and his wife Annie with six children aged 11–25 years whose occupations included milliner, architect, professor of music, and florist.[3]

After arriving in Baltimore, Carpenter taught classes in shorthand. He published two books on the subject and became known as "Professor Carpenter." Carpenter had other eclectic beliefs per his Baltimore Sun obituary. "For many years Mr. Carpenter had also been a vegetarian, a believer in the power of mesmerism and a spiritualist. Upon each of these questions he wrote pamphlets. He thought that the eating of meat was responsible for many of the ills that humanity is heir to."[1]

Carpenter died on Tuesday September 1, 1896 at 1316 North Central Avenue, his home, in Baltimore. Per his obit in the Baltimore Sun, his death was the result "... to a stroke of apoplexy on Sunday." In the year before his death he had "... a number of slighter strokes ..."[1][4]

Advocate of the Flat Earth Theory[edit]

Template:Main Carpenter was a passionate advocate of the flat earth theory, which holds that the earth is not a globe, but a flat square which revolves on a central axis with the sun stationary over the center.[1]

Carpenter, a printer originally from Greenwich, England, published Theoretical Astronomy Examined and Exposed - Proving the Earth not a Globe in eight parts from 1864 under the name Common Sense. He later emigrated to Baltimore where he published A hundred proofs the Earth is not a Globe in 1885.[5]

Carpenter argued that:

  • "There are rivers that flow for hundreds of miles towards the level of the sea without falling more than a few feet — notably, the Nile, which, in a thousand miles, falls but a foot. A level expanse of this extent is quite incompatible with the idea of the Earth's convexity. It is, therefore, a reasonable proof that Earth is not a globe."
  • "If the Earth were a globe, a small model globe would be the very best - because the truest - thing for the navigator to take to sea with him. But such a thing as that is not known: with such a toy as a guide, the mariner would wreck his ship, of a certainty!, This is a proof that Earth is not a globe."

Carpenter was a proponent of English writer Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1885), who produced a pamphlet, with Carpenter's assistance, called Zetetic Astronomy in 1849 arguing for a flat Earth and published results of many experiments that tested the curvatures of water over a long drainage ditch, followed by another called The inconsistency of Modern Astronomy and its Opposition to the Scripture. Rowbotham also produced studies, mostly printed by Carpenter, that purported to show the effects of ships disappearing below the horizon could be explained by the laws of perspective in relation to the human eye.[6]

Principal Works[edit]

Some of Carpenter's works found commercial publishers, but many were printed, bound, and sold by himself, at times under the pen-name "Common Sense."[1][7][8] An incomplete list includes:

  • Communion with 'Ministering Spirits', William Horsall, 1858.
  • The Earth not a Globe, by Common Sense (a poem), London: Job Caudwell, 1864.
  • Sir Isaac Newton's Theoretical Astronomy Examined and Refuted by Common Sense, n.p., n.d. (ca. 1867).
  • Something About Spiritualism: a Reply to Professor Airy's Ipswich Lectures to Workingmen, London: Job Caudwell, 1865.
  • Theoretical Astronomy Examined and Exposed, London: Job Caudwell, 1866.
  • Bosh and Bunkum: Religious Arguments Why the Earth is Not Round, London: Heywood & Co.; William Carpenter, Printer, Greenwich, 1868.
  • Theoretical Astronomy Examined and Exposed, The Author, 1869.
  • The Flying Philosophers, London: British & Colonial Publishing Co., 1871.
  • Water, not Convex: the Earth not a Globe! Demonstrated by Alfred Russel Wallace on the 5th March 1870, The Author, 1871.
  • The Bedford Level Experiment, The Author, 1872.[9]
  • Sense versus Science, The Author, 1873.
  • Proctor's Planet Earth, The Author, 1875.
  • Wallace's Wonderful Water, London: Abel Heywood, 1875.
  • Mr. Lockyer's Logic: An Exposition of Mr. J. Norman Lockyer's Astronomy, London: The Author, 1876.
  • The Delusion of the Day, or Dyer's Reply to Parallax, London: Abel Heywood, 1877.
  • One Hundred Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe, Baltimore: The Author, 1885.[10]

He also published two magazines, Carpenter's Folly, of which only a few issues were printed in 1887, and Shorthand which was issued from 1893-1894.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Thomas William Herringshaw: Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century, Chicago, Ill.: American Publisher's Association, 1905, p. 195.
  2. Template:Cite web This entry cites reference: Family History Library (FHL) microfilm 0596908 (RG4 1663), 0596909 (RG4 1369).
  3. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880, "Part of 5th Precinct of 2nd Ward in the City of Baltimore," S.D. 1, E.D. 67, p. 9, ll. 16-23, enumerated June 3, 1880. NARA microfilm publication T9, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897, Third Series, Vol. I, p. 549.
  5. Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Template:Cite web
  8. Template:Cite web