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Henry Clarke (1828-1907) emigrated to Jamaica in 1847, where he took up a teaching post at Savanna La Mar. He remained there until 1851, when he returned temporarily to England to marry Jane Lister, with whom he had eleven children. Deeply religious, he was ordained in Jamaica in 1852 and began his ministry in Lucea, 1853, where he continued to teach for the next two years.
In 1857 he started a lifelong interest as an inventor, periodically returning to England in a series of unsuccesful attempts to patent his designs. These included rotary and turbine steam engines, an aerial screw (flying machine) and aerial screw steamer (a boat powered by the same principles), and a velocipede.
As an Anglican priest he took a strong stance on the rights of Jamaica's Coolie and Creole immigrants and an interest in the position of ex-slaves and their descendants. In 1873 he founded the Westmoreland Building Society, one of the cornerstones of the later Jamaica Public Building Society. At the same time, he came into personal conflict with the episcopal authorities, nearly losing his living in the process, and faced a number of difficulties with his children - in particular two of his sons, one of whom suffered from severe epilepsy and another of whom was an alcoholic and the subject of a scandal involving an illegitimate child.
In 1894 he resigned his living and was elected to the island's Legislative Council, though he continued preaching in various churches including Baptist and Wesleyan congregations. As a member of the Legislative Council, he spoke out against the Produce Protection Law, was involved in discussions involving currency, and put forward a bill for registering illegitimate fathers, though this was never enacted. He retired from the Council in 1900. His wife died four years later.
Microfilm of diaries, dealing with family and social life, humanitarian concerns and spiritual matters, 1847-1907.
Bodleian reader's ticket required: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/services/admissions/. No access without written permission from one of the authorised family representatives. Contact the library in the first instance.Reproduction Restrictions
No reproduction or publication of personal papers without written permission from one of the authorised family representatives. Contact the library in the first instance.Existence of Copies
Two sets of microfilm are held by the principal authorised family representatives of Revd. Clarke.
Listed as no. 776 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).Related Units of Description
The library holds five volumes of The Journal of Henry Clarke, comprising a typescript version of his autobiography; two volumes of typed transcripts of letters, 1855-1876; three volumes of photocopied letters, 1877-1888. It also holds My Mother who fathered me. A study of the families in three selected communities of Jamaica, etc. by Edith Clarke (London, George Allen & Unwin, 1957). Letters of Henry Clarke can also be found in the papers of the Anti-Slavery Society, held by the library.
Clarke | Henry | 1828-1907 | Church of England clergyman and politician
Clarke | family | 1847-1907 | Jamaica
Jamaica | History
Humanitarianism | Jamaica | History