William Carson, physician, reformer, politician (b at Kirkcudbright, Scotland 1770; d at St John's, Nfld 26 Feb 1843). After arriving in St John's in 1808 he was connected to the local garrison until the opening in 1814 of a public hospital he helped to found. After 1811, through pamphlet writing and direct petition to Britain, Carson began a long and sometimes vituperative campaign to improve social conditions in Newfoundland, to repeal certain restrictive colonial laws and ultimately to establish some form of local popular representation. Carson, Patrick Morris and other associates finally achieved a partial victory in 1832 when the British Parliament granted Newfoundland a bicameral representative legislature comprising an appointed council and an elected assembly.
Carson was defeated when he ran for election in 1832 but was returned in a by-election the next year. Both within and outside the assembly he maintained his struggle for reform in agriculture, education, health care and government. He continued to be elected to the assembly and was elected its speaker in 1837; he was appointed to the executive council in 1842 just before his death.