Caroline Carleton was the daughter of William Baynes of Bonnars Hall, near London, and grand-daughter of the Count and Countess de la Mere, who escaped to England during the French Revolution. Caroline was an educated woman, skilled in music (piano and harp) and languages (Latin, French and Italian - she also studied Hebrew).
In 1836 she married Charles James Carleton, a medical student at Guy's Hospital. They came to SA on the Prince Regent, in 1839, not intending to stay. Their trip out took six months, and their two children died on the way. They first settled in Gouger St. Carleton took up land at Brownhill Creek, but was not successful. He was then employed as dispenser at the Adelaide Hospital under Nash, the first Colonial Surgeon. He was later medical officer and essayer at the Kapunda Copper Mines.
Returning to Adelaide he opened pharmacies in Rundle Street and Gouger Street and in Hindmarsh. For a while he tried his luck at the Victorian gold diggings, but being disappointed in this he returned, and became curator of the West Terrace Cemetery. The couple had five children; a son, Charles James Carleton, who died young, a daughter who remained unmarried and moved to WA, a daughter who married Canon James Pollitt, one who married a Mr Rhead and another who married Mr G A Parker.
Charles Carleton was an invalid with tuberculosis for the last two years of his life, and during this time his wife nursed him and transacted almost all the business of his office. When Charles died in 1861 a number of the clergy petitioned for his widow to be allowed to retain the position, but it was not considered suitable for a woman to do so, and she supported her family by teaching, opening a private school on North Tce, Adelaide. In all she opened five private schools. She died at the Matta Minna Bungalow at Wallaroo Mines, and a memorial to her was erected at the Wallaroo cemetery.
Her well-known and frequently-reprinted "Song of Australia", which she began while sitting in the West Terrace Cemetery while her children played nearby, was set to music by Carl Linger. It won the prizes of ten guineas each for "best air" and "best lyric" in the Gawler Institute's competition for a National Song in 1858. It was publicly performed in the Oddfellows' Hall at Gawler on 12 Dec, 1859, and was given a "rousing reception". Caroline Carleton was the author of the first recorded book of verse by a woman to be published in SA.
The anonymously published children's book "Wild Rosebuds" (1889), which is now generally attributed to Frances Lettice Smith, q.v., has also been attributed to her.
Note: some sources have 1819 as her date of birth.