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George John Clark (1834–1907)

by Richard Refshauge

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Charles George Clark

Charles George Henry Carr Clark (1832-1896), pastoralist, miller and politician, and George John Edwin Clark (1834-1907), pastoralist, were born at Ellinthorp Hall, Van Diemen's Land, the only sons of George Carr Clark, grazier, and his wife Hannah Maria, née Davice. Charles (b. 25 May 1832) was sent to be educated in England. George (b. 19 March 1834) followed with his mother and two elder sisters, Caroline and Georgina, in 1841. The family lived at Carr Villa, Blackheath, Kent, but the depression in Tasmania forced their father to cut their allowance and in 1844 they moved to Paris 'where living was cheaper'. When Mrs Clark's health deteriorated, they went to London where she died on 31 December 1847. The boys were then at Dr Croft's Camberwell Collegiate Institution. They returned to Tasmania and gained much pastoral experience with their father at Ellinthorp Hall. In June 1863 George went to England with his father who died there on 19 December. In that year at Mickleham, Surrey, George married Ellen Louisa Henrietta Smith, daughter of an English paper manufacturer of Fiume on the Adriatic coast. He then visited leading sheep studs on the Continent and stations in New Zealand before he went to Queensland with his wife in 1865.

In July 1858 at St David's Cathedral, Hobart Town, Charles had married Phillis Sarah, the eldest daughter of Charles Seal. In 1861 he moved to the Darling Downs and with a partner, James McKeachie, set up the Ellinthorp Steam Flour Mills at Warwick. After Ellinthorp Hall in Tasmania was sold to Samuel Page, Charles and George in partnership bought the Old Talgai station on the Darling Downs in 1868 and began to consolidate its leases into freehold. George, a 'marvel with sheep', built up their flock by breeding first from the Learmonth and Shaw studs in Victoria and later from the Kermode and Taylor studs in Tasmania. Although his average fleece weighed only 3½ lbs. (1.6 kg) in 1868, he could claim an average of 7½ lbs. (3.4 kg) in 1886, when some of his stud rams were selling for over £400 at the Sydney sheep fair, and others were being exported to Tasmania. He is also credited with introducing the paddock system on the Darling Downs.

In 1871-73 Charles represented Warwick in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. His wife died on 30 January 1874. In 1877 at the Melbourne Catholic Apostolic Church he married Amy, second daughter of T. S. Ralph, M.R.C.S. (Edinburgh), of Kew. In 1890 he moved to Tenterfield where he died on 16 September 1896. He was survived by his wife and eight of her children and by five daughters and a son of his first marriage.

George helped to found the Warwick Examiner and Times in 1867 and represented Warwick in the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 1867-68. He claimed to be 'a moderate liberal' but was highly suspected by townsmen and smallholders for his evasions of the Land Acts. As a member of the court for revising electoral rolls he was said to have deliberately disfranchised many selectors around Warwick, thus displaying 'a disgraceful elasticity of conscience in dealing with public matters which were likely to infringe on his private interest'. He contested the Warwick seat in 1870 but narrowly lost. Although he had seldom spoken in debates he found the strain of politics immense, the expense high and the rewards slight. He was glad to retire to his sheepbreeding and the solace of his violin. He also withdrew from the conventional respectability of the Church of England and became a priest of the Catholic Apostolic (Irvingite) Church, fitting up a room at Talgai as a private chapel. In 1890 financial pressures forced him and Charles to sell 24,250 acres (9814 ha) of East Talgai to the Scottish Investment Co. for 34s. an acre (0.4 ha), leaving George with 9000 acres (3642 ha) and the homestead. When he died on 6 February 1907, his assets were valued at more than £40,000. He was survived by one son, George Carr (b.1864), who also became a Catholic Apostolic priest and retained Talgai until it was subdivided in 1910.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1871-72, 307
  • G. T. Stilwell, ‘Mr and Mrs George Carr Clark of “Ellinthorp Hall”,’ Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 11, no 3, Apr 1964, pp 72-109
  • D. B. Waterson, ‘A Darling Downs Quartet: Four Minor Queensland Politicians: George Clark, James Morgan, William Allan and Francis Kates’, Queensland Heritage, vol 1, no 7, Nov 1967, pp 3-14
  • Australasian, 2 July 1887.

Citation details

Richard Refshauge, 'Clark, George John (1834–1907)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Ellinthorp Hall, Tasmania, Australia


16 February, 1907 (aged ~ 73)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.