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Andrew Clarke

ANDREW CLARKE. An Early State Governor. By "Cygnet."

ONLY one Governor of Western Australia has died at his post of duty. That was Lieut.-Colonel Andrew Clarke who for a brief year, from January 26, 1846, to February 11, 1847, administered the affairs of the Colony and was then laid to rest in the East Perth Cemetery Where, on his tomb, you may still read the fulsome adulations which it was the custom of his day to carve with Infinite patience (and at infinite length) on the stone that covered the remains of the departed. Surmounted by a coat of arms Governor Clarke's epitaph reads:

Underneath this tomb Are interred the mortal remains Of LIEUT.-COL. ANDREW CLARKE, Late Commanding the 46th Regiment, Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, GOVERNOR, Commander-in-Chief, and Vice Admiral Of WESTERN AUSTRALIA AND ITS DEPENDENCIES. Devoted from an early period of life to the service Of his Country, He succeeded under the varied trials Of climate, of dificulty, and of danger, In securing to himself by singleness of purpose, By persevering firmness, by fidelity, And wise discretion, The marked approbation of his Sovereign, And The respect and esteem of all who knew him In the discharge of his Military and Civil duties: And whilst his urbanity of demeanour and placidity of disposition Won for him the regard of the stranger, And endeared him in no common degree To his family and friends. It was the distinguished excellence of his life, That faith unfeigned and piety unaffected, Gave consistency to all his actions, And at once embellished and completed his character AS A CHRISTIAN SOLDIER He departed this life, Alfter a public service of forty years, On the 11th day of February, 1847, In the 54th year of his age. Uncle of Marcus Clarke.

Governor Clarke was descended from a Scot turned Irishman. This was his great-grandfather, John Clarke, who in the time James I left Scotland for the North of Ireland and settled at Grange, County Tyrone. This John Clarke had a son Andrew, who in turn had four sons. The two eldest became doctors, one joned the Army, the other the Navy, both went to the West Indies, married sisters, and amassed comfortable fortunes. It is the second son, Andrew, who interests us, for it was his eldest son, another Andrew, who became our third Governor and sleeps his last sleep on the heights of East Perth.

Dr. Andrew Clarke was born in 1764, graduated in medicine, became a naval surgeon, went to the West Indies where he married Louisa Downing at St. Kitts, and eventually became a wealthy planter and a Brigadier-General of Militia at Trinidad. He had three sons who all joined the army, but the younger ones deserted it for the law. They all left their mark on Australia. Andrew became our Governor; James Langton Clarke became a County Court Judge in New South Wales. The youngest, William Hislop Clarke, though he did not come here in person, was the father of that Marcus Clarke who gave us "For the Term of His Natural Life."

At the tender age of 13 Andrew Clarke was gazetted an Ensign in the 46th Regiment, now the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and ordered to the West Indies. In 1810, not yet 17, he took part in the stirring capture of Guadoloupe from the French. In 1811 he returned to England, and two years later (before he was 20) was promoted Captain and sent in command of the troops to Van Dieman's Land, now Tasmania. In 1816 he secured two years' leave and went to England, at the conclusion of which he rejoined his regiment which was now stationed in Madras. How he spent the two years' leave is not known, but it would appear that he spent it wrestling with his soul, for he conceived he had a "call" for the Church and contemplated retiring from the Army. The idea horrified his father (who in the meantime had left the West Indies and settled in Ireland, at Strabane) as we may see from the following letter:

Strabane, 9 January, 1819 My dear Andrew. ... Your letter to your mother astonished both her and myself not a little. It is an extraordinary circumstance that at your age and with your prospects you should desire to quit the service ... You say much upon the subject of religion, and from the style you write in upon that subject I am afraid you have got acquainted with some designing Methodist parson. Surely a good man may be a good Christian in the Army as in the Church, as Corporal Trim says in "Tristram Shandy," which I am sure is very possible ..,. Always my dear Andrew, Your affectionate father, ANDREW CLARKE.

The Army won in the end, but the Church did not lose, for Governor Clarke's whole life was an inspiration and an example in its selflessness and Christianity. He remained four years in Madras on this occasion, after which, on returning to England on leave, he was married on August 24, 1823 at Telgnmouth, Devon, to Frances Jackson (nee Lardner), widow of the Rev. Edward Jackson, formerly Chaplain to the Honourable East India Company. Mrs. Jackson had two children by this first marriage and bore Governor Clarke four sons and one daughter. In 1825 he was promoted Major and went back to Madras, this time for eight years. In 1833 we find him with his regiment in the North of Ireland and In 1837 he was invested with the Knighthood of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order by King William the Fourth. He must have been one of the last recipients of this Order, for King William was the last Monarch of England to be King of Hanover.

In 1839 Major Clarke was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and given command of the 46th Regiment which was at once ordered to Gibraltar. Three years later the regiment found itself back in the West Indies, and almost at once Colonei Clarke was nominated Governor of St. Lucia. At the same time he had been considered for the Governorship of Western Australia, but eventually Governor Hutt was sent to Perth. His term in that West Indian Governorship was most successful and on leaving there in 1844 he was accorded a public address and shown every honour. He was now nominated Governor of Western Australia, but first visited Ireland, as we see from the following extract from a letter he wrote his son Andrew from Cork In April, 1845: "My affair is so far settled that I have this day made application for half-pay to enable me to accept the Governorship of Western Australia which Lord Stanley has placed at my disposal. The salary is small - £800 a year and a very good furnished house, but it may lead to something better."

Perth in the Forties.

Governor Clarke sailed for Fremantle in October, 1815, accompanied by his wife and one of his step-daughters, Fanny Jackson. He arrived in Perth on January 26, 1846, and the following day took over the Government from Governor Hutt. His first impressions were anything but pleasant, and his visions of "a very good furnished house" were dissipated on the instant. Three weeks after his arrival be wrote his eldest son Andrew, now a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, a very frank letter about affairs in general. It makes mournful reading.

Government House, Perth, WA.; 17th February, 1846 My dear Andrew - We arrived safely at Perth on the 26th of last month. Prospects are anything but bright - great want of population, greater want of money or credit, no probability of being better, the local Government in debt, the taxes too high to admit of our placing additional ones to clear us, a complete hand to mouth system from the crippled state of our finances. No public events going on, bad roads a and bad buildings, no money to improve them. This house is miserably planned and in a state of dilapidation. It will require a thousand pounds to make it a proper residence. This, however, is out of the question ... I must confess I am glad you did not come out with me. You would have been completely lost here. The only appointment I could have given is the Private Secretaryship, or confidential Clerkship as it is called. This is one Hundred a year. .... We expect an Engineer officer from Sydney or Van Diemen's Land to examine and report upon the fortifications necessary for the defence of this place. If they sanction anything of the nature, I presume we shall have a resident Engineer officer, when there would be an opening for you, and you would have plenty to do in the construction of the works. I shall watch this and give you the earliest intimation. A little money laid out in this way would be of great advantage to this poor colony. I think we shall like the climate, though at present it is awfully hot, more so than St. Lucia. Ten months in the year they say is pleasantly cool, and it is always healthy. The createst trial is the little intercourse with England. Ever your affectionate father, ANDREW CLARKE. P.S. - If you could be ordered to New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land, they are as good quarters as any other, and you would be in the way of coming here should the arrangement I speak of take place.

Of this eldest son Andrew, the Engineer officer, we will speak later, but it is necessary to point out here that he took his father's advice, and was sent to Van Diemen's Land in command of a small detachment of Sappers in October, 1846. He arrived in Hobart Town on January 26, 1847, two weeks before his father died, though he did not hear the sad news for another five or six weeks. It was then conveyed to him by Colonel Irwin, the Military Commandant, who had now to take over the Colony as Acting-Governor on the death of his old and dear friend. The letter explains the deep comradeship that existed between these two, both of whom were Christian soldiers in the fullest sense of the term.

Perth, 17th February, 1847. My dear Andrew,--It is with deep feelings of sorrow I have to announce an event which your sister, I believe, has already prepared you for, the lamented death of your dear father, who departed this life on the 11th instant, after a long and painful illness, in which he exhibited a bright example of Christian. faith and hope indeed, for weeks latterly his earnest prayer and hope was that if it were God's will he might not recover, but depart to be with Christ, which, with the Apostle, he deemed "far better." To myself the loss has been a very severe one. After twenty years separation a Christian friend much esteemed and beloved by me was restored to me, and I looked forward to many years happy intercourse in this distant land. Your poor mother and sister bear up well under the loss. and I trust, will continue to do so. Yours. F C. IRWIN.

It is idle to speculate on what would have been the fate of Western Australia had Governor Clarke been blessed with health to exert his will and his energy. He died almost ere he had taken up the reins of government. Of his last days we have an intimate glimpse from the pen of Mrs. Irwin, the Commandant's wife. Writing to that eldest son, Andrew. in Tasmania she told him how on his deathbed he had sent for his son's portrait and gazing at it with tears had told her stories of him and his childhood: particularly he had delighted in telling her of his Woolwich days when he had been an Engineer cadet. "I think." Mrs. Irwin wrote young Clarke, "I can see him now sitting in his easy chair, his face beaming with affection for his absent child." Mrs. Clarke and Miss Jackson returned to England, but Miss Jackson returned to the Colony to become the wife of George Fletcher Moore, to whom we owe so much of our knowledge of the earliest days, and who succeeded Peter Broun as Colonial Secretary. Mrs. Clarke died in England on January 16, 1855. Sir Andrew Clarke.

Governor Clarke had four sons. The eldest we have mentioned and will mention again. The third died as he was entering manhood. The second and fourth entered the army, became majors, served in the Crimean War, and died in the 1870's. Lieutenant-Colonel John de Winter Lardner Clarke, C.B.E., R.A, the only son of the youngest son, is Governor Clarke's only male descendant. He lives at Oxford.

Of the Governor's eldest son, Andrew, volumes could be written. Lieut.-General Sir Andrew Clarke, G.C.M.G.. CB., C.I.E., Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers, saw service in Ireland, New Zealand, and Tasmania, where he was the Governor's private secretary and Member of the Legislative Council. At 29 he was Surveyor-General of Victoria, became a Cabinet Minister, later refused the Premiership, and returned to England to become Director of Works at the Admiralty. He built docks all over the world, as well as throughout England; recommended the Government to purchase the Suez Canal long before Disraell purchased those famous shares in it; was sent as Governor to the Straits Settlements, from there to India as Member of the Viceroy's Council, and thence to England again as Inspector-General of Fortifications. an Imperial appointment of the profoundest importance. On his relinquishment of that post he accepted the office of Agent-General for Victoria. and played a most important part in the final phases of the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia. He died in 1902. His only daughter is the wife of Admiral Sir Murray Fraser Sueter, R.N., MP., a pioneer of aviation and of the tanks, and one of Britain's most distinguished naval officers.

References and Links

Cygnet [Cyril Bryan], 'Andrew Clarke. An Early State Governor', West Australian 9 January 1937: 5.

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