Carpenter, George Herbert (1865–1939), entomologist, was born in Peckham, south London, son of George Carpenter and Phoebe Carpenter (née Hooper). He was educated in Peckham; King's College, London (B.Sc. 1890); and the Royal College of Science, Dublin; he later received degrees from QUB (M.Sc. 1913, D.Sc. 1918). After employment as an engineer's draughtsman (1880–84), he became a clerk in the science library of the British Museum, London (1884–8), where he developed a love of natural history and visited Ireland in pursuit of his interest.
Appointed assistant naturalist in the Museum of Science and Art (National Museum), Dublin (1888–1904), he worked closely with the curator R. F. Scharff (qv), keeping abreast of scientific developments and presenting exhibitions of the natural history of Ireland. In 1889 he joined the Dublin Naturalist's Field Club (founded 1886), became its secretary (1890), and then founded (1892) the Irish Naturalist with R. L. Praeger (qv) to promote the study of natural history; he served as joint editor (1892–1922), contributed many articles on Irish fauna, and was largely responsible for the journal's high reputation.
Carpenter was a leading figure in the revival of interest in entomology in Ireland, and his special interest in arachnids led him to the discovery of the Irish house spider Tegenaria hibernica; he subsequently published his seminal ‘List of the spiders in Ireland’ (RIA Proc., 3rd ser., v (1898–1900), 128–210), which, with its subsequent revisions, became a standard work. Other interests included bristle-tails; he discovered one new to science and added many more to the Britannic list.
A prolific entomologist, Carpenter became the founder of economic entomology in Ireland. In 1889 he was joint author of a special government report on insects, fungi, and weeds injurious to farm crops, and subsequently produced annual reports (1891–1920) on economic entomology as consulting entomologist to the RDS, which collectively came to comprise the first textbook on insect pests in Ireland. He conducted the first notable scientific study of an insect pest in Ireland with his valuable research on the warble fly, publishing papers (1907–22) on the fly's life history and on preventative measures against it – notably ‘The reproductive organs and newly hatched larva of the warble-fly (Hypoderma)’ (Scientific Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society, xiv (1914), 268–90), written with T. R. Hewitt (1887–1915).
His great contribution as professor of zoology at the Royal College of Science, Dublin (1904–22), was to establish entomology as a university subject in Ireland. Elected secretary of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland (1911–18), he took great delight in the Zoological Gardens, especially the larger animals, and encouraged the purchase of unusual specimens.
He published several books, including Insects: their structure and life (1899, Russian ed. 1903, rev. 1924), The life story of insects (1913, Spanish ed. 1922), Insect transformation (1921), and The biology of insects (1928); he also contributed articles to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.) and numerous papers to scientific journals, many of which are listed in J. G. Ryan et al., A bibliography of Irish entomology (1984). Elected MRIA (1903), he subsequently served as secretary (1920–23) of the RIA.
He resigned from his professorship (1922) when the Royal College of Science was incorporated into UCD, and became keeper (1923–34) of the Manchester Museum (University of Manchester), England, where he enthusiastically committed himself to its extension and reorganisation and gave lectures; on reaching retirement age, he was invited to remain as keeper for a further three years. His departure to England was a loss for Irish entomology, especially in the field of agricultural and veterinary pests, though he maintained his friendships and links with Ireland and spoke at the 1933 annual meeting of the Zoological Society.
A kind and deeply religious man, Carpenter was widely liked, trusted, and respected. A member of the general synod of the Church of Ireland, he served as hon. lay secretary of the Hibernian Church Missionary Society (1921–3) and hon. life governor of the Church Missionary Society from 1923. In England he was ordained deacon (1926) and priest (1927), and served as hon. curate to Christ Church, West Didsbury, Manchester (1926–34), and to St Augustine's, Broxbourne, Herts. (1935–7). He enjoyed cycling and hill walking. He died 22 January 1939 in Guildford, Surrey, and is buried in Guildford cemetery. He married (1891) Emma, daughter of Charles Eason (qv); they had one son, who became a missionary in China.