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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Clarke, Andrew (1793–1847)

by E. Zalums

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Andrew Clarke (1793-1847),  by Ulm (photographed by Thomas Chuck, 1879)

Andrew Clarke (1793-1847), by Ulm (photographed by Thomas Chuck, 1879)

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H1534

Andrew Clarke (1793-1847), governor, was the eldest son of a Protestant Irishman, Dr Andrew Clarke of Belmont, County Donegal, and Louisa Downing, née Johnston. They were married at St Kitts in 1790 and later moved their family to a large estate near Trinidad. At 13 Andrew joined the army as an ensign, rising to captain in 1813. He saw service in New South Wales, India and Europe before being given command of the 46th Regiment, with which he was later transferred from Gibraltar to the West Indies. He became governor of St Lucia in 1843. While on leave in England in 1823 Clarke had married Frances Jackson, daughter of Philip Lardner; they had four sons. Her first husband, Rev. Edward Martin Jackson, a chaplain with the East India Co., had died in 1821 and left her with a daughter Fanny Mary Jane, who married George Moore on 29 October 1846. Because of his parents' frequent absences, the eldest son Andrew (later Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Clarke) was brought up by his grandfather, with the help of his uncles James Langton Clarke and William Hislop Clarke, the father of Marcus Clarke.

Clarke was considered a likely successor to Sir James Stirling, the first governor of Western Australia, but the appointment went to John Hutt in 1838. When Hutt's term of office drew to a close, Clarke informed his friend Captain Frederick Irwin, then in the colony, of his interest in the position. Irwin made strong representations to London in Clarke's favour, and in August 1845 he was appointed governor. He arrived with his wife and step-daughter on 26 January 1846, his advent being expected to hasten economic recovery from the depression, bring about a change in the land regulations and introduce a brighter element into the colony's social life. However, in July Clarke became seriously ill, about the same time as the colonial secretary Peter Broun, who died soon afterwards. After being incapacitated for seven months the governor died on 11 February 1847. The administration of the colony during his illness was conducted by G. F. Moore who was appointed acting colonial secretary. An intensified export trade and general economic improvement in 1846 turned the colony's deficit into a surplus for the first time since 1843. Because of the governor's illness the land question remained unsolved, social life continued unchanged and the confident expectations associated with his arrival were not fulfilled.

Select Bibliography

  • G. F. Moore, Diary of Ten Years Eventful Life of an Early Settler in Western Australia (Lond, 1884)
  • R. H. Vetch, Life of Lieut General the Hon Sir Andrew Clarke (Lond, 1905)
  • Inquirer (Perth), 17 Feb 1847
  • P. J. Boyce, The Role of the Governor in Western Australia, 1829-90, (M.A. thesis, University of Western Australia, 1961)
  • Legislative Council, Minutes, 3 Apr–2 July 1846 (State Library of Western Australia)
  • A. Clarke to F. C. Irwin, 11 Mar 1844 (State Library of Western Australia).

Citation details

E. Zalums, 'Clarke, Andrew (1793–1847)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 4 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Andrew Clarke (1793-1847),  by Ulm (photographed by Thomas Chuck, 1879)

Andrew Clarke (1793-1847), by Ulm (photographed by Thomas Chuck, 1879)

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H1534

Life Summary [details]




11 February 1847
Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage