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The parish records for East Anglia have inconvenient holes. As yet I have nothing (other than legend) for John's (first) marriage to Martha.
The Children of John Clarke (TBC)The first of John's children, John Clarke (1760-1829), was born to his first wife, Martha Brown (-1748). The six younger children were born to John's second wife, Elizabeth (1739-1810).
Death of John Clarke
John Clarke died, and was buried at Henstead. Writes A. S. Clarke c. 1935 -
On a table monument at the south side of the Church is the following inscription -
The Memory of
John Clarke, Gent.
July 5th 1773,
in the 44th year of his
"The Spider's most attenuated thread
is cord, is cable to man's tender tie
on earthly bliss, it breaks at every breeze. (1)"
who departed this life
on the 28th October
aged 71 years.
(1) From the poem 'Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality.' By Edward Young. The Clarkes may have appreciated its nautical allusions.
Presumably A. S. Clarke's six feet two inches of height, military bearing, and sternest gaze of disapproval, were unfamiliar to the clergy at St. Mary's, for he felt obliged to inform his readers that -
Before the Parish Church of Henstead underwent extensive - and in my opinion undesirable - restoration in the early 1900's there were several stones marking the graves of early members of the family. These were removed from the interior of the church, without permission, and were placed in the churchyard near the tower at the west end. One such stone near the pulpit, bore the following inscription:-
Here resteth the Body of
ye Wife of.
John Clarke, Gent.
who departed this Life
July 21st 1736, aged
Here also resteth ye Body of
John Clarke, Gent, Husband
of above said, who departed,
this Life, the 30th March, 1740
aged 68 Years
Beyond the Font there was also a stone covering the resting place of Mary & Frances, daughters of the above. North of this stone again was that already mentioned, to the memory of Anne, the wife of William Pell.
Alas, the Clarke monuments continued to decay in line with the family fortunes. The paling around them was recycled during WWII, and no external text is readable today.
The Will of John Clarke
Transcription of the will of John Clarke, dated 14th of April 1773, original abridgement by A. S. Clarke, circa 1935.
I commend my soul to God my body to be buried at the discretion of my executrix (1). I give to John Machet (2) of Gisleham, Suffolk and to Robert Reeve of Lowestofte Suffolk, Gentleman, the farmlands and other buildings known as Woodrow's Farm (3) containing about 80 acres lying in Henstead or in Hulver a hamlet thereto adjoining or in other places adjoining – the said premises are in occupation or use of himself – William Beals, John Kitt, William Ellis, Drusilla Varlow - widow or assigns - said John Machet and Robert Reeve to hold said premises in trust for testator's eldest son John Clarke by his deceased wife Martha or said sons heirs – Trustees of said premises to raise £1200 thereout to be equally divided among any children testator may have by his present wife Elizabeth with reversion to their issue – said Trustees to pay £300 out of said property to said wife on one of her children attaining the age of 21 years – should she die before such event said £300 to revert as in case of said £1200 – said Trustees to pay out of profits of said farm etc. so long as said £1200 shall be unpaid annually £60 to said wife Elizabeth – to John Machet £60 per annum for additional maintenance and education of Testator's children – to wife Elizabeth for life messuages and tenements in Henstead – Gisleham – Bramby (4) – Rushmere – all in the County of Suffolk or in any place adjoining thereto – said messuages and tenements are now in occupation of himself – Charles Davy, clerk, Francis Hillary – James Brame – John Pain – Jonathan Lawes – John Bishop – Jeremiah Nelson – Ann Sparham – John Machet – Joseph Brooks or undertenents - after decease of said Elizabeth – last mentioned property to revert to her children as tenants in common – stock in trade – Ready money – plate – household goods and furniture to said Elizabeth in lieu of dowry on real property.
Wife Elizabeth and John Machet to be executors – said executors are to be guardians of his son John Clarke and of any other children to be born.
Witnesses John Howard. Samuel Collett – Susanna Rogers.
Probate granted in the Perogative Court of Canterbury on 9 September 1773 to Elizabeth Clarke, relict, and John Machet.
The will of John Clarke, Transcription of the National Archive document in full (Caution! may induce narcolepsy. Grandfather's abridgement above is strongly recommended).
In the Name of God Amen I John Clarke of Henstead in the County of Suffolk Gentleman being of sound disposing Mind and Memory praised be God do make publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament in manner following first I commend my Soul into the Hands of Almighty God hoping for a happy Resurrection on the last day and my Body to the Earth to be decently interred at (1) the discretion of my Executrix and Executor hereinafter named and as to my Worldly Estate I give and dispose thereof as follows that is to say that I give and devise unto John Machet of Gisleham in the said county Gentleman and Robert Reeve of Lowestoft in the said county Gentleman All that my Messuage farm and Lands with the Outbuildings and other Hereditaments thereto belonging known by the Name of Woodrows Farm (3) containing by estimation Eighty Acres or thereabouts and situate lying or being in Henstead aforesaid or in Hulver a Hamlet thereto adjoining and belonging or in some other Town Parish or place thereto contiguous or near adjoining as the same Premises are now in my own use or Occupation and in the use or Occupation of William Beals John Kitt William Ellis Drusilla Varlow Widow or their Assigns To hold the same Messuage Lands Hereditaments and Premises with their and every of their Appurtenances unto the said John Machet and Robert Reeve their Executors Administrators and Assigns from and Immediately after my decease for and during the full end and term of One Thousand Years from thence next ensuing and fully to be compleat and ended without impeachment of or for any manner of Waste except voluntary Waste in pulling down Houses and Buildings without rebuilding the same upon such trusts nevertheless and to and for such intents and Purposes
under and subject to such Provisoes as are hereinafter expressed and declared of and concerning the same And from and after the end expiration or other sooner determination of the said Term of One Thousand years and in the mean time subject thereto I give and devise All the said Messuage farm Lands Hereditaments and Premises with their Appurtenances unto my oldest Son John Clarke by Elizabeth (5) my deceased wife and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever And as for and concerning the said Term of One Thousand years hereinbefore limited to the John Machet and Robert Reeve their Executors Administrators and Assigns as aforesaid I do hereby declare that the same is so limited to them upon such Trusts and to and for such intents and Purposes and under and subject to such Provisoes are hereinafter expressed and declared of and concerning the same that is to say in Trust that they the said John Machet and Robert Reeve their Executors Administrators or Assigns shall and do by demise sale or Mortgage of the said Messuage Farm Hereditaments and Premises or of a competent part thereof for all or any part of the said term or by such other ways and means as they shall think fit raise and levy or borrow and take up at Interest the sum of Fifteen Hundred Pounds of lawful Money of Great Britain to be paid and disposed of in manner following that is to say I give and bequeath the Sum of twelve hundred Pounds part thereof to be equally divided to and amongst all such Child and Children whether Male or Female that I shall have living at the time of my decease by Elizabeth my present wife and which she may be then ensient with to be paid at their respective ages of Twenty one years But if any of them should die before he she or they shall respectively attain their Age of Twenty one years and without having any lawful Issue then I will that the part and share of him her or them so dying shall go and be paid to the Survivors or Survivor of them and to the lawful Issue of such of them as may be then dead such Issue to take the part and share only which his her or their Father or Mother would have been intitled to if living And I give and bequeath the further sum of Three hundred Pounds Residue of the said Sum of Fifteen Hundred Pounds to the said Elizabeth my Wife when and as soon as she shall have any Child by me begotten attain his or her Age of Twenty one years But if my said Wife should die before she shall have any such Child attain his or her Age of twenty one Years Then I give the said Three hundred Pounds to be paid to my said Child and Children by my present Wife at such time and times and in like manner as the said Sum of twelve Hundred Pounds is by this Will divided to be paid and upon this further Trust that in the mean time and until the said Sum of Fifteen hundred Pounds shall be raised for the Purposes aforesaid that they the said John Machet and Robert Reeve their Executors or Administrators
shall and do by and out of the Rents Issues and Profits of the same Messuage Farm Hereditaments and Premises or by cutting down selling and disposing of the Wood and Timber growing thereon raise and levy yearly the following Sums that is to say whilst and so long as the whole fifteen Hundred Pounds remain unpaid The sum of Sixty Pounds of lawful Money of Great Britain which I give and direct shall be paid to my said wife whom I have hereinafter appointed my Executrix during her Life for and towards the Maintenance of herself and the Maintenance and Education of the Child and Children I shall leave by her and which she may at my decease be ensient with and in case of her death I give the same yearly Income to my other Executor hereinafter named for the maintenance and education of my said Children and when and as any part of the said Fifteen Hundred Pounds shall be raised or paid in pursuance of this my Will Then my meaning is that my said Trustees after raising a sufficient Sum to pay the Interest of any Money they shall have borrowed for the aforesaid Purpose shall raise and levy yearly only at and after the Rate of Four Pounds for every one Hundred Pounds of the said Fifteen Hundred Pounds as shall remain unpaid or unraised for the said Purposes And which said yearly Sums I Will shall be paid my said Wife during her Life or in case of her decease to my other Executor to be applied by them respectively for the same and the like Purposes as the whole Income of Sixty Pounds is before directed to be paid and applied Provided always that no such demise Sale or Mortgage of the said term as aforesaid shall be made until some part of the said Fifteen Hundred Pounds shall become payable as aforesaid Provided also that in case the said sum of Fifteen Hundred Pounds before limited and appointed to be raised for the Purposes aforesaid and in the mean time the said yearly Sums for Maintenance shall be by the the said John Machet and Robert Reeve their Executors and Administrators or Assigns raised and levied by their Ways and means aforementioned or shall be by my said eldest Son John his Heirs or Assigns paid or to the good liking of the said John Machet and Robert Reeve or the Survivor of them his Executors or Administartors secured to be paid according to the purport true Intent and meaning of these Presents Then and in every or any of the said Cases and at all times from thenceforth the said Term of One Thousand years of and in the said Premises or so much thereof as shall remain unused and undisposed of for the Purposes aforesaid shall cease determine and be utterly void to all Intents and Purposes any thing hereinbefore contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding Also I give and devise unto the said Elizabeth my Wife All those my Messuages or Tenements with the Lands and Hereditaments thereto belonging situate lying and being in Henstead aforesaid Gisleham Barnby and Rushmere in the said County or
in some other Town Parish Hamlet or place thereto contiguous or next adjoining and are now in the several Occupations of myself Charles Davy Clerk Francis Hillary James Brame John Pain Jonathan Lawes John Bishop Jeremiah Nelson Ann Sparham John Machet and Joseph Brookes their Assigns or undertenants To hold all the said last mentioned Premises with their and every of their Appurtenances subject to the Mortgage thereon To the said Elizabeth my Wife for and during the Term of her natural Life and from and after her decease I give and devise the same and every part thereof To and among all such Child and Children as I shall leave at the time of my decease by my present Wife and which she may be then ensient with and to their several Heirs and Assigns for ever To hold as tenants in common and not as joint Tenants And as to my Stock in Trade Ready Money Debts due or owing to me and Securities for Money Household Goods and Furniture Plate and Linnen and all other my Personal Estate whatsoever subject to the Payment of all my just Debts except my Mortgage Funeral and Testamentary Expenses I give and bequeath the same and every part thereof to my said Wife But my Mind and meaning is that the Estate and fortune which I have herein given to my said Wife shall be in lieu and in satisfaction of all her Right and Interest as to Dower and thirds which she may claim of or in my real Estate and I give it to her upon this express Condition that she Release the same accordingly when thereto lawfully required And I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said Wife and that the said John Machet Executrix and Executor of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking and making void all others by me at any time heretofore made And I do commit to my said Wife and the said John Machet the tuition and Guardianship as well of my said oldest Son John as of all my other Children which I shall leave at my decease and which my said Wife may be then ensient with In Witness whereof I have to this my last Will and Testament contained in these Sheets of Paper and affixed together at the top To the first and second Sheets set my hand and to the third my hand and seal this fourteenth day of April in the Year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and seventy three - John Clarke Signed sealed published and declared by the said Estate as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence and at his request and in the presence of each other have subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereto - John Howard - Saml Collett - Susanna Rogers
This Will was proved at London before the Right Worshipful
George Day Doctor of Law Master Keeper or Commissary of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury lawfully constituted by the Oaths of Elizabeth Clarke Widow the Relict of the deceased and John Machet his Executors named in the said Will to whom Administration was granted of all and singular the Goods and Chattles and Credits of the said deceased having been first sworn by Commission duly to administer.
Hundreds of other lines of descent from John Clarke are possible but these three receive support from autosomal DNA analysis. As yet, no independent Y-test confirmation.