Some writers claim that Carter was a servitor at Christ Church, one of the University of Oxfords colleges during the 1850s and 1860s, at the same time that Lewis Carroll was there. However, there is no evidence for this claim and it is claimed by some sources that Carter invented The Alarm Clock Bed, exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and which tipped out the sleeper at waking-up time into a tub of cold water. However, while an alarm clock bed was indeed displayed at the Exhibition – in fact two were – Carters name is lacking in both the Exhibitions catalogue and any known documentation. He was a cabinet-maker and owned a furniture and upholstery shop at 48–49 High Street in Oxford,48, and from 1861 to 1894 at No.49, where he employed five men. Census records for 1881 show that Carter lived above this shop with his wife, Mary Anne Carter, daughter, grand-daughter, in 1935 H. W. Greene wrote a letter to The Times asserting that Carroll had Tenniel model his drawing of the Mad Hatter on Carter. A few days later, the Reverend W. Gordon Baillie disputed the notion that Carter did not know he had been the model for the Mad Hatter, Your correspondent, Mr. H. W. The story went that Mr. Dodgson, thinking T. C. had imposed upon him, in justice to the mans memory, I may say that I possess a carved oak armchair which I bought from him, second-hand,50 years ago. It is as good as ever, and the price was very moderate, further to this correspondence, W. J. The author Derek Hudson, in his biography of Carroll, believed that Collingwoods reference to a model for the Mad Hatter must be referring to Carter. In the first edition of his biography of Carroll he claimed that Carter was once of Christ Church, however, there is no evidence that either Collingwood or Greene was right about the Mad Hatter, let alone that they both were. In his reference Collingwood seems to be claiming that the model for the Mad Hatter was a colleague of Carrolls. In those days, he wrote, the dining in hall were divided into messes. Each mess consisted of half a dozen men, who had a table to themselves. In Mr. Dodgsons mess were Philip Pusey, the late Rev. G. C, woodhouse, and, among others, one who still lives in Alice in Wonderland as the Hatter. Theophilus Carter died in 1904 and was buried in Oxfords Holywell Cemetery and he was buried with his granddaughter, Bertha Mary, aged 1 year. Lewis Carrolls Oxford Contemporaries Carter on Picture Origins in Alice in Wonderland Carter on The Phrase Finder
Theophilus Carter c.1894
The Hatter as depicted by Tenniel, reciting his nonsense poem, "Twinkle twinkle little bat"