CLARKE, Sir Andrew (1824-1902)

CLARKE, Sir Andrew (1824-1902)
was born at Southsea, Hampshire, England, on 27 July 1824. He was the eldest son of Lieut.-Colonel Andrew Clarke (1793-1847) and his wife Frances, daughter of Philip Lardner. His father entered the army as an ensign when only 13 years of age, by 1813 became a captain and went with his regiment to New South Wales in that year. In 1818 he was in India, and in 1823 while on leave in England was married. He returned to Europe in 1833, was created a knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order in 1837, and succeeded to the command of his regiment in 1839. In 1842 Colonel Clarke took his regiment to the West Indies and was appointed lieutenant-governor of St Lucia, which he left in 1844. In the following year he was appointed governor of Western Australia, where he arrived on 26 January 1846. He became ill not long afterwards and died on 11 February 1847.
Owing to his father's absence from home, Clarke was brought up by his grandfather, Dr Andrew Clarke, and his uncles, James Langton Clarke, who afterwards went to Victoria and became a county court judge, and William Hislop Clarke, the father of Marcus Clarke (q.v.). He was educated at the King's School, Canterbury, and the Portora School at Enniskillen. At 16 he entered the royal military academy at Woolwich and did a four years' course. He took a high place at his final examination, and in June 1844 became a second lieutenant in the royal engineers. In 1845 he was stationed in Ireland and in the following year, on his father's suggestion, applied to be sent to New South Wales or Tasmania. In July 1846 he was promoted lieutenant and sent in command of a small detachment of royal sappers and miners for service in Tasmania. He sailed in the same ship as Sir William Denison (q.v.), the newly-appointed governor of Tasmania. A few weeks after his arrival he heard of the death of his father in Western Australia.
Clarke's principal reason for coming to Australia was the hope that he might obtain a position somewhere near his father and mother. In the changed circumstances he was very glad in 1848 to go to New Zealand to assist in improving the communications. Sir George Grey (q.v.) was not only pleased to have his help in making roads, but also employed him in endeavouring to reconcile the Maoris to British rule. However, in August 1849 Sir William Denison wrote to Clarke offering him the position of private secretary to the governor. Clarke accepted and, becoming a member of the legislative council, was able to be a tactful mediator between the governor and the colonists. In May 1853 he was offered the position of surveyor-general of Victoria with a seat in the council. He was still under 30 when he began his duties, which included not only the management of his department, but a share in the government of the colony. In February 1854 he was promoted to be captain, in July he acted as secretary of an exhibition held in Melbourne of the articles to be sent to the Paris exhibition, and about this time was one of the founders of the Philosophical Society, afterwards the Royal Society of Victoria. When responsible government was established Clarke was elected a member of the legislative assembly for Emerald Hill, and as surveyor-general in the first Haines (q.v.) ministry, brought in a bill for the establishment of municipal institutions. This was passed and Clarke may be called the founder of municipal government in Victoria. In 1857 he carried a bill largely extending railways in the colony, and in March 1858 he was asked by the governor, Sir Henry Barkley, to form a government. Clarke's request for a dissolution was, however, refused and he abandoned the attempt to form an administration. In 1858 Clarke decided to return to England. He was anxious to obtain the position of governor of Queensland, and considered he would be in a better position to advance his claims in London. He had good support but the position was given to Sir George Bowen (q.v.).
Clarke was much disappointed, but carried on his work as a military officer, though he found the routine duties at Colchester, where he had been placed in command of the royal engineers, very tedious. He was able to do a useful piece of work for Victoria by firmly refusing to accept obsolete arms for the volunteer forces there. In 1863 Clarke, now with the rank of major, was sent to the Gold Coast to command the forces, and in the following year was brought back to England to become director of works at the admiralty. There be designed many important works, including the Bermuda floating dock in 1868. At the end of 1869 he visited Egypt when the Suez Canal was opened, and suggested that an endeavour should be made by an English company to purchase the canal, but the proposal was opposed by Gladstone and others and nothing came of it. For the nine years from 1864 to 1873 Clarke carried through a series of important works relating to the navy, docks and harbours, and in May 1873 was appointed governor of the Straits Settlements. In 1875 he became a member of the council of the viceroy of India, and head of the public works department. In this position, he formulated many schemes which unfortunately could not at the time be carried out for want of money. In 1881 he was appointed commandant of the school of military engineering at Chatham, and from 1882 to 1886 was inspector-general of fortifications and director of works, in which position he was able to give advice to the Australasian colonies on defence questions. On more than one occasion he was acting agent-general for Victoria, and vigorously pressed the Australian views in connexion with the cession of the New Hebrides to France. He resigned from his position of inspector-general of fortifications on 25 June 1886, and became a candidate for Chatham in the house of commons in July 1886, as an ardent home ruler, but was defeated. In 1891 Clarke acted as agent general for Victoria for a few months, and holding the same position from November 1892 to April 1894, worked hard to uphold the financial credit of Australia during the 1893 financial crisis. He was again acting agent-general in January 1897, and two years later the qualification of "acting" was dropped and he was appointed agent-general. He held this position until his death at London on 29 March 1902. He also acted on occasions as agent-general for Tasmania. He married in 1867 Mary M. E. Mackillop, who died in 1895, and was survived by a daughter. He was created C.B. in 1869, K.C.M.G. in 1873, C.I.E. in 1878, and G.C.M.G. in 1885. He was promoted colonel in 1872, major-general in 1884, and lieutenant-general in 1886.
Clarke was a genial man of strong feelings, able and hard-working. He was only a few years in Australia, but in addition to his work for the extension of railways and municipal government, he was also a strong influence for improved water supplies, telegraph extensions, and the keeping of meteorological statistics. He drew a pension of £800 a year from Victoria, but this was not paid to him while he was agent-general.
R. H. Vetch, Life of Lieut.-General the Hon. Sir Andrew Clarke; Men of the Time in Australia, 1878; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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