CLARK, Andrew Inglis (1848-1907)

CLARK, Andrew Inglis (1848-1907)
federalist and constitutional lawyer
son of Andrew and Ann Inglis Clark, was born at Hobart, Tasmania, on 24 February 1848. He was educated at the Hobart high school, and on leaving, entered the office of his father, who was an engineer and iron-founder. He did not begin to study law until he was 24 years of age, and it was nearly five years before he was admitted to practise in January 1877. He first distinguished himself in the criminal court and later obtained a large general practice. Elected to the house of assembly for Norfolk Plains in July 1878, he was defeated in 1882 and was out of parliament for five years. In March 1887 he was returned for South Hobart, and at once became attorney-general in the Fysh (q.v.) ministry, which remained in office until August 1892. In 1890 he represented Tasmania at the Melbourne conference on federation and again at the Sydney convention of 1891. He had prepared a complete draft constitution for the use of this convention. He was a member of both the constitutional committee and of the judiciary committee, the only one of the 45 representatives to be on more than one committee. He was also a member of the sub-committee of four that completed the drafting of a bill to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia. Sir Samuel Griffith (q.v.) is generally believed to have taken the most important part in the drafting of this bill, but there is no doubt that Clark's special knowledge of the constitution of the United States must have been of great value. "That our constitution so closely resembles that of the United States is due very largely to his influence" (B. R. Wise, The Making of the Australian Commonwealth, p. 75). He had been sent to England to represent the Tasmanian government in a case before the privy council in 1890, and on his way home visited the United States. He afterwards twice visited America, and always took a special interest in it. From April 1894 to October 1897 he was attorney-general in the Braddon (q.v.) ministry, and in 1896 was responsible for the act which brought in the Clark-Hare system of voting in Tasmania. He resigned from this ministry on account of a difference with his colleagues and became leader of the opposition. He was not a candidate at the election of Tasmanian representatives for the 1897 federal convention, and did not approve of the bill in its final form. In 1898 he was made a judge of the supreme court of Tasmania, and in 1901 published a book, Studies in Australian Constitutional Law. He died on 14 November 1907. He married in 1878 Grace Paterson, daughter of John Ross, who survived him with five sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Andrew Inglis Clark, born in 1882, educated at Hutchins School, Hobart, and the university of Tasmania, became a judge of the supreme court of Tasmania in 1928.
Clark exercised a great influence in Tasmania. He had a passion for knowledge, he was intensely interested in the welfare of his fellow-men, and his house was for long a centre of culture and learning in his native town. An excellent constitutional lawyer, he did good work in the Tasmanian parliament, and his learning and ability had much effect on the movement for federation.
The Mercury, Hobart, 15 November 1907; B. R. Wise, The Making of the Australian Commonwealth; Quick and Garran, The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth; Who's Who in Australia, 1933; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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