Carden, John Rutter (1811–66), landlord, was born 5 February 1811, eldest among six sons and a daughter of John Carden (1772–1822) of Barnane, near Templemore, Co. Tipperary, landowner, DL, and high sheriff (1796) of the county, and Ann Carden (née Rutter; 1784–1849) of Lincoln. Educated in England, he inherited the Barnane estate in 1842 and soon afterwards attempted to convert some tenant farms into demesne land. This involved him in a long series of evictions and court actions. He could be generous to tenants who submitted to him, but was merciless to those who resisted. He evicted so many tenants that he was dubbed the ‘Tipperary exterminator’ by a local newspaper; he was also known as ‘Woodcock’ because he was shot at so often by aggrieved tenants, but never hit. As a magistrate, he adopted a stern policy towards agrarian agitation and was zealous in his efforts to stamp out intimidation of landlords and their agents in Co. Tipperary. A vigorous, muscular man of medium height, with a haughty demeanour, he scorned police protection for himself. On one occasion he was shot at by two men near Nenagh; he struck one senseless with his riding whip, pursued and seized the other, and marched them both to Nenagh jail, where they were subsequently hanged. This caused a body of his tenantry to march on Barnane Castle, but they withdrew when they saw Carden on top of the castle loading a swivel-mounted cannon with grapeshot. Appointed grand juror, DL, and high sheriff of Co. Tipperary, by 1854 he occupied 1,430 acres and had an income of £2,000 a year. His participation at a tenant right meeting in Thurles in February 1850 was criticised by nationalists who claimed that he had only attended to further his parliamentary ambitions. The same ambitions led him to issue an address in February 1852 declaring himself a friend of civil and religious liberty, an opponent of sectarian legislation, and an advocate of a just settlement of landlord–tenant relations. He stood unsuccessfully as the conservative candidate for Cashel in the 1859 general election.
In July 1852 he met and became infatuated with a young Englishwoman, Eleanor Arbuthnot, who lived at Rathronan House, near Clonmel. He followed her everywhere and made approaches through her family but was discouraged. Believing that she shared his feelings and it was only the opposition of her family that prevented her from marrying him, he wrote her a letter suggesting they elope, a proposal she strongly rejected. He then decided to abduct her. Accompanied by six manservants (who had been told that Eleanor consented to the abduction), he tried to seize her from her carriage as she rode home from Rathronan church on Sunday 2 July 1854. However, Eleanor, her sisters, and family servants put up such a fierce struggle that the abduction was thwarted. Carden was arrested soon afterwards, and was found with loaded pistols, £315, several coils of rope, and two bottles of chloroform. He had chartered a steamer that was waiting in Galway Bay to take them to London, and had relays of horses waiting from Templemore to Galway; it was said that the preparations had cost him £7,000. The case caused great excitement in Tipperary and beyond, and he was tried in a packed courtroom in Clonmel on 27 July 1854. In addition to the abduction charges, he was also charged with assaulting one of Eleanor's servants. Local opinion felt that this was excessive and his acquittal on the assault charge was greeted with cheers. He was, though, found guilty of attempted abduction, and sentenced to two years' hard labour in Clonmel jail. After representations from his fellow magistrates, the authorities offered him early release if he pledged to keep away from Eleanor, but he refused. He served the full two years and after his release travelled overland to India. However, on his return to Tipperary he continued to follow Eleanor incessantly, including to Dublin and England. In October 1858 he was again arrested and charged at Kingstown court with conspiracy to abduct; the charge was dropped but he was forced to give substantial securities to prevent any further abduction attempts. To explain his conduct and ask for Eleanor's forgiveness, he wrote A letter to the people (1858), which claimed that the press had misrepresented him as a besotted maniac. He maintained that Eleanor did not know her own mind and was excessively influenced by those around her. He still believed that she loved him, and her failure to marry strengthened his delusion. Complaining of being subjected to police surveillance, he denounced Dublin Castle for using its ‘standing army of police’ to interfere in private matters.
In his later years he became increasingly eccentric, installing extensive Turkish baths at Barnane. In 1864 he bought some new lands and was engaged in legal procedures to evict tenants when after a short illness he died 21 February 1866 at Barnane; he never married. He was succeeded by his brother, Capt. Andrew Carden (1815–76) of the 60th Rifles, JP, DL, and high sheriff (1873) of Co. Tipperary.