A Dubliner, educated at Portarlington School, Trinity College, and King’s Inns, he practised at the Irish bar, firstly representing tenant farmers and then landlords as he became Crown Counsel. After moving to England, Carson was successful in many high-proﬁle cases, such as in his defence of the Marquis of Queensberry in a libel suit brought by Oscar Wilde. In February 1910 he became leader of the Irish Unionist MPs at Westminster and begun a strategy of exploiting Ulster unionist opposition as a means of preventing Home Rule for the entire 32 counties.
Carson sanctioned the establishment of the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1912 and its arming in 1914 — unchallenged by Asquith — to derail the third Home Rule Bill. Carson backed the British war effort, and after the 1916 Rising, offered the services of the UVF ‘for the maintenance of the King’s authority.‘ But in the House of Commons, he pleaded for clemency for the leaders, saying: “Whatever is done, let it be done not in a moment of temporary excitement, but with due deliberation in regard both to the past and to the future.” In 1921 he resigned as Unionist party leader and was appointed Lord of Appeal and made Baron Carson of Duncairn.
He attended the opening of the new Northern Ireland parliament buildings at Stormont in 1932, and unveiled his own statue in front of the buildings in July 1933. Carson died at his home at Cleve Court, Isle of Thanet, Kent on the 22 October 1935 and was given a state funeral in Belfast. He was buried in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.