Charters, John (1796–1874), millowner and philanthropist, was born 24 June 1796 in Gobrana, near Crumlin, Co. Antrim, son of Alexander Charters and Eleanor Charters (née Mackey). He possibly attended the Belfast Academical Institution; in 1836, with two partners, he established the Falls Flax Spinning and Weaving Company, later known as ‘the Charters mill’, which was one of the first flax-dressing concerns in Belfast and became one of the largest textile factories in the city. He made a fortune during the American civil war, and sold his interest in the firm in 1866 for a very large sum.
A well-known figure in Belfast commercial life, he was noted for his philanthropy, particularly for his involvement with the work of the Belfast Charitable Society. In 1868 he gave £2,500 for an extension to the Poor House, the ‘Charters Wing’; he gave £2,500 to the Working Men's Institution building fund, and the same amount to build a wing in Belfast General Hospital and £1,000 to the Convalescent Hospital. His offer of £2,000 to build a night refuge for the homeless was declined. In 1865 he gave £2,000 over ten years to provide scholarships and prizes in the RBAI and for the Model School, Belfast. A unitarian, he was particularly interested in non-sectarian education, and provided for six exhibitions to QCB. Though he was active in the liberal party, he refused public office and honours; he is said to have declined a baronetcy. Charters died 13/14 August 1874, after being ill for some time; in his will, he left assets sworn at under £180,000. He married (17 March 1818) Mary Boomer (d. 1853); they had at least one son and possibly seven daughters.