Journal and correspondence of the Revd. Henry Clarke

Scope and Content

Five volumes of The Journal of Henry Clarke,comprising a typescript version of an autobiography written by the Revd.Clarke with reference to his diaries of 1847-1897; two volumes of typedtranscripts of his letters, 1855-1876; three volumes containing photocopiesof his letters, 1877-1888.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Clarke (1828-1907) emigrated to Jamaica in 1847, where he took up ateaching 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.

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Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

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Related Material

Diaries, 1847-1897 (ref. MSS. W. Ind. r. 10).