Generation 1 of William CLARK(E) Jr.

Much of what we know about the William Clark(e) line that begins in Crocker's Cove is speculative, though records of Clark(e) births, marriages and deaths at Crocker's Cove predate 1805. In many cases the Parish (Hr. Grace, and later Carbonear) was shown as place of residence instead of where people actually lived. I have seen several arguments which are plausable. The reasons for this are clear. Over the years records were lost or in some cases children simply were not registered, either because there was no church or clergy or because their parents choose not to for reasons known only to themselves. I take no firm position on the lineage of William of Crocker's Cove. I have tried to construct my family tree starting with myself and moving backward through the generations. I do not believe there is enough evidence availabale to claim that our family leads directly to William of Crocker's Cove. Some of the links are clearly speculative and open for query and discussion. Readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions as to where William fits into their own line.

The first reference to the Clarke's in Crocker's Cove comes from the Plantation book in the year 1805 which is many years after the Clark(e)s are recognized in the records. The Plantation Book shows Adam, Moses and Thomas Clark(e) as joint owners of a portion of the original Clarke Plantation on the south shore. A later transaction shows the portion of land allotted to each. Jack Clarke of Utterson, Ontario has in his posession wills showing that John of the North Shore was the father of William of the South shore. He concludes that William's grandfather was the father of John. In the Plantation Book, William Clarke is shown as an owner of the Clark(e) Plantation. A John Clark(e) is also shown as an owner of land. However there is no direct evidence that they were father and son or brothers. No Church records exist which show their relationship difinitively. The Plantation came into the family in 1705 and John Clark(e) acquired his land around 1745.

We also know from various writers that the Clark(e) Plantation was divided over the years. William Clark(e) Jr. divided his property between sons Robert and Thomas, and Thomas sold his share in 1832 to a Carbonear merchant.

Mr. Jack Clarke, who has been researching his family for a number of years presents the following argument which for the most part I accept.

"We are told that a family of Clarkes established themselves in Trinity as early as 1525. However this must be speculative and far reaching. In the Trinity Bay census of 1753, two hundred and twenty odd years after 1525, there was only one Clarke (Robert) listed. Since only heads of families were listed one can conclude that if Robert was in the country for more than one or two generations there would have been any number of Clarke households.

There were any number of Clarkes commanding Vessels to Newfoundland for the summer fishery but the first real evidence that the Clarkes resided permanently in Newfoundland is that the patriarch of the Conception Bay Clarkes arrived sometime between 1696 and 1704. There were no Clarkes on the census of 1675.

In some of the reports out there concerning the Clarkes one can extrapolate that the first John was around in 1735. One would then have to conclude that he claimed land at 10 years of age, and fathered children into the 1790s. Another problem is that John was supposed to have been married to Martha (Butt?) because they had a child named Amy Butt (Clarke?) and then Mary Ray. That is unlikely since John and Mary Ray were married in 1777 and had a daughter Ann in 1784 (V.S. Vol. 45A & 110) while John and Martha were having children both before and after this date.

Another error that is commonly accepted is the statement that the Clarke property was lost to Gosse, Pack and Fryer. As early as 1787 the original Clark plantation on the South Shore of Crocker's Cove had been divided into four ownerships. It was still that way and owned by Clarkes in 1825. In that year only that portion belonging to Adam Clarke was lost to Gosse, Pack and Fryer. Map of Crocker's Cove (Drawn by Jack Clarke Feb. 1998)

The fact of the matter is, except in one or two cases where old wills etc. are available, Clarkes having children baptized in the 1770s - 1790s, while descendants of the original Crocker's Cove Clarkes, cannot be traced back to them. Attempts to set up an early Clarke family tree are frustrated by the multiple use of the same Christian names over and over. Wills are not always reliable because of this. At one point there were no less than twelve William Clarkes baptized in a twenty year period in the early 1800s.

Another problem is the fact that while there is a continuous record of births and marriages through the 1790 - 1815 period, the number of entries are way down, indicating a high rate of loss or absence for that period. After 1815 a great many Clarkes start appearing in the records who cannot be associated with parents or siblings, their marriage and baptism records having been lost for the 1790 - 1815 period. One may be able to establish the parents as John and Mary, William and Jane, but which John?, William? For instance, for years I knew the male siblings of my Great grandfather Clarke, the information being provided in a Will. The name of their father came from the Labrador records later. Details of age etc. identified him as Moses the son of William Senior. He was baptized Nov. 4, 1782, along with a brother George. (V.S. Vol. 110)

Moses, son of William Sr. was witness at the marriage of Richard Clarke and Mary Jefferies. This would indicate that Richard (in our line)was not the son of William Sr."

Mr. John H. Clarke presents his arguments in A Brief Discourse on my Clarke Ancestors in Newfoundland. The reader is encouraged to study his arguments carefully.

"William Clarke, who I am claiming as my 7th great-grandfather, was a Bristol merchant or merchant's representative, involved with the Newfoundland Fishery. In 1696, while still in Bristol, his signature was among those on a petition to the British Admiralty asking for warships and fireships to be stationed at Bay Bulls for the protection of fishing settlements on the east shore of the Avalon Peninsula.

Records examined to date indicate William was the first Clark to reside permanently in Newfoundland. It is true, Clarkes commanded fishing vessels to the coast at an early date, and it is claimed Clarkes established a settlement in Trinity Bay as early as 1525, but that is questionable. On the 1753 census for Trinity Bay, two and a quarter centuries after 1525, and fifty years after William, only one Clarke household is listed.

William and his wife Bridgett were on a Bristol register for 1696 but there is no record of them in Bristol after that date. So far, records have not been found to establish William's origins, many for the Bristol area were destroyed during the 1939 - 45 war.

From early 1704 until after 1706 William and his wife were in St. John's His signature appears on a number of documents sent to the British government, including two petitions to Queen Anne. The signatures leave no about doubt the spelling of the name, and show that William of Bristol and William of St. John's were one and the same person.

In 1705 William and his family spent thirty-six days in Fort William, during the occupation of St. John's by the French. They had to pay 1.16.0 pounds for provisions during their stay.

William's name appears on a list of inhabitants of St. John's for 1706, but does not appear on similar lists for 1708. It is accepted, without absolute proof, that between 1706 and 1708 William acquired most of the south shore of Crocker's Cove (north shore of Crocker's Cove Point in Carbonear). This property was located adjacent to that of Roger Butt who was listed as one of two settlers in the cove on "Berry's" 1675 census. Roger was a direct ancestor of my mother, Flora (Butt) Clarke.

Nothing has been found to show how old William of Bristol was. Since he was married prior to 1696, it is unlikely he was childless until the birth of John who cut and cleared his own property on the north shore of Crocker's Cove in 1745. There were no other Clarkes on the 1706 list of inhabitants, but William could have had a son, or sons, not yet of legal age. These could easily have accommodated the birth of John whose will was made in 1804. It is unlikely that William, unless endowed, or beyond the age of starting a family, would have had the resources to procure prime property in Crocker's Cove which, by 1706 was probably well settled.

The plantation books of 1805 show there were five Clarke property owners in Crocker's Cove at that time. John, assumed to be the grandson of William of Bristol, cut and cleared property ion the north shore in 1745. William, a son of John, in 1775 received part of the south shore property from his grandfather (the missing link to William of Bristol?). In 1783, Moses, Thomas and Adam, assumed to be brothers of John but could have been nephews, received the balance of the south shore from their father (John's father also, or his brother?).

An analysis of births, marriages and deaths in surviving records, which do not really begin until the 1770s, suggests the following Clarkes were born circa 1755 - 60, likely the 2nd great grandchildren of William of Bristol:

William, Sr. married Mary
James married Mary
Adam married Amy
John married Martha (Butt ?)
William Jr. married Mary
Rachel married John Parsons
John, Sr. married Mary Ray
Sarah married Edward Power
Elizabeth married James Spencer
John Jr. married Mary Bursey
Mary married Michael Keho
Thomas married Jane


The records show that the male members of the above, and their wives, were the only Clarke couples in the Crocker's Cove area having children baptized in the 1770s and 1780s. As already indicated, surviving Conception Bay records do not start until late 1700s, and a great many were lost for the period 1790 to 1815. Consequently, a lot of unidentifiable Clarkes start appearing in the records after that period. The same Christian names used over and over adds to the confusion. Wills, land transfers and voter's lists can help.

By 1832 the ownership of John's north shore property had changed . That of Moses was owned by Robert Clarke; that of Thomas was owned by a William Clarke; and that of Adam was lost to Gosse, Pack and Fryer in 1825.

While documents to establish an unbroken line of descendants from Moses, Thomas and Adam, have not been found, I have been able to do so for John, who, if my reasoning is correct, was my fifth great-grandfather. He had at least two sons - James, and William who received south shore property from his grandfather. John's will of 1804 leaves his north shore property to son James and grandsons William Sr. and John who were children of south shore William. John's will identifies his grandson William as "William Sr., son of William." William Sr.'s will of 1828 leaves his north shore property to sons William and John.

During the 1770s and 1780s both William Sr. and a William Jr. were having children baptized. In some cases the record is specific but in others it is not. Considering the dates and the number of children involved, it is unlikely William Sr. and William Jr. were father and son.

My second Great-grandfather was Moses, baptized Nov. 4, 1782, the son of William Sr. and Mary. His marriage, and the birth of his children, occurred during the period of the lost records (1790 - 1815), and were not found. Consequently, his wife is not known. In 1820 Moses was convicted for debt, which probably contributed to his spending most of his life on the Labrador. In 1851 he lived with his son, Frances at Chatreau along with Patience the wife of Francis, and Joseph my great-grandfather, who was age 25 at the time. No record of his death has been found, Moses had four identified sons.

1. Moses was born c. 1806 at Crocker's Cove, married Joanna Connors at Freshwater Nov 12, 1835 raised a family at Freshwater and was buried in the Carbonear Methodist Cemetery on Mar. 7, 1880 at age 74.

2. Francis was born c. 1807 at Crocker's Cove, relocated to Spaniard's Bay where he married Patience Gosse, Oct. 26, 1843, moved to Freshwater for a period (1847 - 1849) and then moved to Labrador. In 1863/64 he was located at Chateau with his father Moses and his wife Patience. Francis died at Chateau June 3, 1873 at the age of 66.

3. William was born at Crocker's Cove c. 1813. He married a Sarah Clarke of Crocker's Cove June 2, 1837. They had no children. William lived in Crocker's Cove until after 1855 and then moved to Freshwater where he died on Feb. 6, 1869 age 54. He is buried in the Anglican Cemetery in Carbonear. A stone lying on the ground says he was born in 1813. His will dated 1861 names the identified male members of his father's family.

4. Joseph, my great-grandfather moved to the Labrador at an early age. In 1840 he was listed among the customers of the Thomas Bird Company at English Point on the Southern Labrador coast and is thought to have been located at East St. Modeste. In 1851 he was age 25 and living with his brother Francis at Chateau. On Dec. 6, 1856, at Freshwater Methodist Church he married Julia, the widow of a Martin Hellyer (Hilyard, now Hilliard). He returned to the Labrador with Julia and her son Richard. In 1863 - 64 he was at Chateau with Julia, his stepson Richard and children Patience, Stephen, Moses and Julia Ann. A fifth child, my grandfather Joseph was born in November 1869 at East St. Modeste. Great grandfather Joseph's death record has not been found. It is not in the Labrador church records. It could be in some lost records of the early Anglican Church in Curling. Of his family, all but one married daughter moved from Labrador to the Bay of Islands on Newfoundland's West coast in 1885. It is not known if he died before the move or after.

The property then occupied by the Clarkes and their half brother Richard Hilliard is at Petries, now part of Corner Brook, and extended west from Petries Brook to beyond Verge Place (always known as Clarke's Lane), and from north of Petries Street to well south of the old railway bed. Clarkes and Hilliards still own and occupy parts of it.

Name association and witnesses at marriages suggest that in the family of my second great grandfather Moses there was a Susan, a Sarah and a Patience. However, there is nothing concrete on which to base a claim.

I have two other known connections to the early Clarkes of Crocker's Cove. Adam Clarke (parents unknown) was born in 1760 according to his age at death. The voters list shows he had a son Adam. This Adam had a daughter Elizabeth in 1906 (proof in court records). Elizabeth had a daughter Julia in 1826 with Robert Coombs of Burnt Head, Carbonear, whom she married on Nov. 18, 1827. Julia married Martin Hilyard on Nov. 27, 1847, became a widow and married my great-grandfather Joseph on Dec. 6, 1856 as already stated.

My third connection to the early Clarkes of Crocker's Cove goes back to James (parents unknown) and Ellenor who first appears in the church records as parents in 1809. They had a daughter, Mary baptized on April 27, 1817, and she married my second great-grandfather John Butt at Freshwater on Nov. 27, 1834. John and his family spent some years on the Labrador before settling in the Bay of Islands prior to 1871.

My mother, Flora (Butt) and my father Herbert Clarke, whose direct ancestors Roger Butt and William Clarke lived side by side in Crocker's Cove all those years ago, were born about a mile apart in the Bay of Islands."

Mr. Clarke further adds, " With regards to this section it should be be born in mind that William who married Ann Pittman on April 2, 1797 was a widower. William Clarke, baptized January 8, 1781, son of William Sr. would have been only 16 - 17 in 1797. Most likely Ann Pittman married either William Sr. or William Jr. Both of whom were having children baptized in the 1770s - 1880s, both of whom were married to Marys. I have no record of William and Ann Pittman haviang any children.

I have record of two Richard Clarke's being baptized on November 18, 1787. (Harbour Grace V.S., Vol. 110) One was the son of William Sr. and Mary of Crocker's Cove. The other was the son of James and Mary of Island Cove.

On January 3, 1806 a Richard Clarke of Crocker's Cove married Mary Jeffers of Freshwater, Moses Clarke son of William Sr. was a witness to this marriage. This indicates that this Richard was also the son of William Sr.

A Richard Clarke married Ann Hutchings on December 6, 1810. Richard was living in Crocker;s Cove and Ann was from Spaniard's Bay at the time. (V.S. Vol. 45A) Their first child was born in Carbonear (likely Crocker's Cove). One should consider the possibility of James and Mary being the parents of the Richard who married Ann Hutchings. After the birth of Richard at Island Cove James and Mary had the following children at Carbonear according to the records (V.S. Vol. 110), but likely Crocker's Cove: Johnathan bap. Nov. 21, 1788, Elizabeth and Jonathan, bap. September 17, 1790. I cannot explain the two Jonothans unless the first died, or unless he was baptized twice. I did not find more children for James and Mary but I did find children of James and Eleanor at Crocker's Cove; Elizabeth and Catheran, bap. November 18, 1809, Mary, b. Feb. 16, 1816, bap. April 27, 1817, married John Butt in 1834 at Freshwater, Abselom, bap. July 12, 1819 and Basil bap. Nov. 24, 1821."

I am indebted to Mr. Jack Clarke for his detailed research.

Following is information provided to me by Harold James Clarke. The reader is urged to check this information for themselves.

1. William CLARKE1 Jr. was born in 1780 at Hr. Grace Nfld.  He was baptized on January 8, 1781.  He married (1) Ann PITTMAN.  When she died, he married (2) MARY   ?  on April 2, 1797.

Some argue that the only known child of William Jr. and Ann PITTMAN was Richard however others argue that this is not the case.

2.                i.     Richard2 CLARKE, b. November 18, 1787, at Crocker’s Cove Nfld.


William Clark(e) Jr.|Generation 2|Generation 3|Generation 4|Generation 5|Generation 6

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