Clarke Family

of Hyde, Cheshire

The head of the Clarke family at Hyde, Cheshire, was the Lord of the Manor and the family seat was at Hyde Hall overlooking the river Tame. Pigot & Company's Trade Directory of 1834 states that:

'---- George Clarke, Esquire, (Junior) is Lord of the Manor and holds a Court Baron in May and November. A Court is also held before Hyde John Clarke, Esquire, the Magistrate, for hearing and deciding petty cases at the offices of Chorlton and Hibbert, Solicitors'.

Somewhat confusingly, the same Directory also states that:

'---- Hyde Hall, the seat of Hyde John Clarke, Esquire, is a building of some considerable antiquity; recent improvements have deprived the exterior of its ancient appearance, but a greater part of the interior is in its original state. It is pleasantly situated on the river Tame, but the rapid progress made in manufacture, and the introduction of machinery to such a vast extent and power has materially deteriorated from the beauties of the adjacent scenery'.

George Clarke Junior was, indeed, Lord of the Manor of Hyde but he lived abroad for much of the time, the family having estates in America and Jamaica. So in 1834 it was Hyde John Clarke who was in residence at the family seat of Hyde Hall. The hall was situated on the left bank of the river Tame, a short distance to the east of Clarke's Bridge over the river. The drive to the hall was off Mill Lane, just above the bridge. On the opposite side of the river in Glass House Fold, Haughton, Lancashire, the Clarke family worked coal pits where a company of refugee Flemish glass makers and blowers had settled during the reign of Elizabeth I.


Engraving of Hyde Hall with Clarke's Bridge on the left, c.1795.

George Clarke Junior (1768 - 1835) and Hyde John Clarke (1777 - 1857), who were half brothers, were the sons of George Hyde Clarke Senior (1743 - 1824). The mother of George Clarke Junior was Catherine Hussey and the mother of Hyde John Clarke was Sophia Astley.

George Hyde Clarke Senior was a promoter, prominent shareholder and member of the Committee of the Peak Forest Canal Company and he personally presented a silver cup to Thomas Brown, Surveyor and Resident Engineer to the Peak Forest Canal Company for the services he had rendered to the company.


George Hyde Clarke Senior
(1743 - 1824).

The death of George Hyde Clarke Senior was reported in The Derby Mercury on the 14 July 1824 and an edited version of the report is as follows:

This morning the remains of George Hyde Clarke, Esq. of Grafton-street, Berkeley-square, London, and of Hyde Hall, in the county of Chester, passed through this place to be interred in Cheshire (should read Lancashire). Mr. Clarke died on the 5th instant, aged 81 (should read 82). - His body rested for the night at the King's Head Hotel, in this town, and he was conveyed in a Hearse attended by six persons on horseback, and a mourning coach.

George Hyde Clarke was born in Jamaica in 1743 and his parents were Major Edward Clarke and Elizabeth Guthrie. Edward Clarke was born in New York, America, and he served in the North American Colonial Regiments. Elizabeth Guthrie was a widow prior to marrying Edward Clarke. The father of Edward Clarke was George Clarke who was born in England and became the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of New York for the British Crown.

Hyde John Clarke (Captain Hyde John Clarke RN JP) was engaged in the administration of the Ashton and Peak Forest Canals and a Sub-Committee was created to which he was appointed. The purpose of this was to counsel and support James Meadows Junior following his formal appointment on the 18 August 1831 as the General Agent for both the Ashton and Peak Forest Canals. Hyde John Clarke was also notable figure in the affairs of the township of Hyde. He sat on the Magisterial Bench for the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire and he always gave his support to movements tending to the public good. His prominence and popularity was given recognition in 1839 when the citizens of Hyde presented him with a handsome testimonial in recognition of his services, and, '---- his unwearied disinterestedness, impartiality and affability'. This testimonial took the form of a silver plate valued at 270 guineas.

As a Magistrate, he was actively involved in controlling the civil and industrial disturbances of the 1830s and 40s and his services in this capacity were officially recognised by his appointment as the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and the thanks of the War Office.


Captain Hyde John Clarke RN JP
(1777 - 15 November 1857).

Hyde John Clarke's maritime career began on the 29 June 1791 when, at the age of fourteen, he joined the Royal Navy where he was placed aboard the 74-gun ship, HMS Bedford. One of his first duties was to provide ropes with which to hang three sailors who had been found guilty of mutiny. On the 13 June 1806 he fought in a two-hour long running battle that resulted in the capture of the French privateer, La Henrietta. Less than a month later, on the 9 July, he fought in a second battle, which resulted in the capture of another privateer, La Bellone. In 1810 he was promoted to the rank of Commander and for a while he was on guard service at the port of Liverpool.

After resigning his Commission with the Royal Navy he returned to Hyde where he managed the family estate on behalf of his half brother, George Hyde Clarke Junior. From here onwards he became the principal luminary in the township of Hyde.

Prior to moving into Hyde Hall, Hyde John Clarke lived at Wood End House, adjacent to the change bridge on the Lower Peak Forest Canal at Wood End, and this is how it came to be known as Captain Clarke's Bridge. This bridge is one of the best-known features of the Lower Peak Forest Canal and here the towpath changes from the west side of the canal to the east side, to switch back again at Hyde Lane change bridge. There were no constructional reasons for this and it was done this way at the behest of George Hyde Clarke Senior. While he welcomed the cutting of the canal through his estate he did not want the towpath to be adjacent to Hyde Hall lest trespassers encroached onto his land. George Hyde Clarke Senior also made a contribution of £10 0s 0d towards the construction of Foxholes footbridge, which lay between Captain Clarke's bridge and Burgess's bridge. His contribution was recorded in the Minute Book of the Peak Forest Canal Company on the 20 May 1799. A copy of this Minute Book, on film, is deposited at Tameside Local Studies and Archive Centre, Central Library, Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7SG.

Hyde John Clarke devoted a great deal of energy and time to the citizens of Hyde. He was a prime mover in the movement to build St George's Church, built in 1831-32. He obtained the gift of the site for the church from his half brother and was instrumental in raising sufficient funds to build it (£4,310). George Hyde Clarke Junior, then living in America, contributed some of the cost and it was consecrated on the 20 October 1832. The bell tower was added later at a cost of £700. For a short while the new church was simply known as Hyde Church and then it was changed to St George. This was no coincidence either for it neatly combined the name of the Patron Saint of England with the Christian name of his father. This example of naming a church by linking the name of a saint with the Christian name of a benefactor is by no means unique in England. St George's Church stands at the intersection of Woodend Lane, Church Street and Great Norbury Street, only a short distance away from the Lower Peak Forest Canal. Hyde John Clarke also took an active interest in the political life of Hyde and eventually he became leader of the local Conservative Party.

A noteworthy event in the public life of Hyde John Clarke was a visit to England of Prince Louis Napoleon, who later became Emperor Napoleon III. It was his duty to accompany the prince while he was visiting the area and the prince brought letters of introduction to him. During the visit he stayed with the French party at the Royal Hotel in Manchester.

His son, Edward, became a Solicitor in Hyde and he built Hall Bank House as his residence. Another son, Henry, held a Commission in the Royal Navy and was involved in the Opium War of 1839-42, which included a naval bombardment of Canton. His third son, John, lived at Oswestry where he had a collection of paintings and curios removed from Hyde Hall.

A search of the 1881 census showed that John Clarke, aged 60 years, was living with his wife, Mary Ellen, aged 59 years, at Treflach, Brookhouse, Oswestry. He gave his place of birth as Haughton, Lancashire, which is a short distance away from Hyde Hall on the Lancashire side of the river Tame, and his wife was born at Liverpool. He gave his occupation as being the Manager of an Estate (Farm Bailiff).

Later in life Hyde John Clarke retired to Llangollen and the citizens of Hyde felt that the town had suffered a grievous loss. He died in 1857, aged 80 years, and his death was recorded at Oswestry Register Office. His body was returned to Hyde for committal and he now lies in the family vault below the bell tower of St George's Church. His wife, Ann, and three of their children lie beside him.

The death of Captain Hyde John Clarke was reported in The Morning Chronicle on the 23 November 1857 as follows:

On the 15th inst. in his 81st year, at his residence in Willow-street, Oswestry, Hyde John Clarke, Esq., Captain of the Royal Navy.

Hyde Hall, which dated from the 17th century, was altered in the mid-18th century to create the typical Georgian Period country house shown in the above engraving on the right. It was demolished in 1857, possibly due to coal-mining subsidence, but the adjoining farm buildings and courtyard, on the left in the engraving, were left intact and these survived into the 20th century. Hyde Corporation purchased the site of the hall in 1924.

The grave of George Hyde Clarke Senior at St Lawrence's Church, Denton, 10 January 2007.

Inscription:
GEORGE HYDE CLARKE
LATE OF HYDE
IN THE COVNTY OF CHESTER
ESQVIRE
DVRING HIS LIFE TIME
A CONSTANT ATTENDANT
AT THIS CHAPEL
AND
A LIBERAL CONTRIBVTOR
TO ITS REPAIRS
DIED IN LONDON
IVNE V† MDCCCXXIV
AGED LXXXII YEARS
AND AGREEABLY TO
HIS OWN SPECIAL DIRECTIONS
WAS HERE INTERRED
ON THE XVI DAY OF IVLY
FOLLOWING
†The stone mason made a mistake when he was carving the inscription commemorating George Hyde Clarke Senior. His date of death is shown as IVNE V (June 5) when it should have been IVLY V (July 5).
St Lawrence's Church, Denton, 24 July 2005.

An interesting connection with George Hyde Clarke Senior is this raised bed in the churchyard. The inscription reads: 'This Tree was planted and inclosed by Geo. Hyde Clarke Esqr. of Hyde A.D. 1801'.
St George's Church at the head of Great Norbury Street, Hyde, c.1930.

Woodend Lane, leading down to the Peak Forest Canal, is to the right of the church.
St George's Church, 13 September 2008.

The church foundation stone was laid by Captain Hyde John Clarke RN JP of Hyde Hall, Hyde, on Whit Saturday, 28 May 1831 and it opened on 20 October 1832. In a cavity under the foundation stone was deposited a box containing coins of the day and some written and engraved material.

In 1853, the single bell was replaced by a full peal of eight bells, manufactured by Messrs C & J Mears at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London. The bells were brought along the Peak Forest Canal to the wharf at the bottom of Canal Street, Hyde. No. 6 bell was named 'Edward Clarke', after the son of Captain Clarke and his name was cast in the bell.

It was ironic that on the 10 August 1853 that No. 6 bell fell, breaking the leg of Mr Wilson, the contractor, before falling onto the Clarke family vault situated under the tower. The bell broke and was replaced.
The family vault of Captain Hyde John Clarke below the bell tower of St George's Church, 13 September 2008.
The memorial to Captain Hyde John Clarke, 13 September 2008.

Inscription:
SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
HYDE JOHN CLARKE ESQR.
FORMERLY OF HYDE HALL, AFTERWARDS OF LLANGOLLEN,
A CAPTAIN IN THE ROYAL NAVY AND ONE
OF HER MAJESTY'S JUSTICES OF THE PEACE,
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE AT OSWESTRY ON THE
15TH. DAY OF NOVEMBER 1857, ÆTAT 80 YEARS.
HE CAME TO THIS HIS LAST ABIDING PLACE
FULL OF PIETY AND FULL OF DAYS.
IN THE VARIOUS RELATIONS OF LIFE HE WAS
MOST EXEMPLARY, HE WAS EMINENT ALIKE FOR
HIS PRIVATE VIRTUES AND HIS PUBLIC SERVICES
AND NOW HE RESTS FROM HIS LABOURS
AND HIS WORKS DO FOLLOW HIM.
The memorial to Ann Clarke, wife of Captain John Clarke, 13 September 2008.

Inscription:
SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
ANN CLARKE
WIFE OF HYDE JOHN CLARKE
CAPTAIN IN THE ROYAL NAVY
DIED AUGUST 21ST. 1843
AGED 58 YEARS
The memorial to Elizabeth Mary, the fourth daughter of Captain John Hyde Clark.

Inscription:
SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
ELIZABETH MARY
FOURTH DAUGHTER OF HYDE JOHN CLARKE
CAPTAIN IN THE ROYAL NAVY
AND ANN HIS WIFE.
WHO DIED ON THE 11TH OF JANUARY 1841
IN THE SIXTEENTH YEAR OF HER AGE.
Memorial to the children of Hyde John Clarke and his wife, 13 September 2008.

Hyde John Clarke married Ann Joyce at Whitchurch, Shropshire, on the 20 April 1808 and the couple had nine children.

Name, dates of birth and death, place of burial:
Sophia Ann (Peacock), 18 Jan 1809-13 Mar 1879:
St Peter's Ashton-under-Lyne.
Sarah, 18 Apr 1810-16 Jul 1896:
Family vault at St George.
Emma Beetenson (Cocks), 11 Sep 1811-8 Jan 1846:
St Peter's, Oldham.
Hyde, 24 Jun 1813-31 Jan 1858:
Swanswick, Jamaica.
Edward, 21 Mar 1815-19 Dec 1874:
St George's Hyde.
Henry, 6 Dec 1816-4 Feb 1855:
Llantysilio, Denbigshire.
John, 10 Apr 1820-1 May 1902:
Llantysilio, Denbigshire.
Elizabeth Mary, 18 Jun 1825-11 Jan 1841:
Family Vault at St George.
Fanny, 10 Jan 1828-2 Dec 1874:
Family vault at St George.
Baptismal records show that Sophia Ann Clarke was born on the 10 December 1808 and that she was baptised on the 11 February 1809. The records also show that Sarah Clarke was born on the 8 April 1810 and that she was baptised on the 3 August 1810. Both baptisms were at Christ Church, Hunter Street, Liverpool, and their father's occupation was given as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

Sophia Ann Clarke married Thomas Birtenshaw Peacock in 1848 and Emma Beetson Clarke married George Edward Cocks in 1844, both at St George's Church, Hyde.
Looking north at Captain Clarke's Change Bridge on the Lower Peak Forest Canal, 4 March 1978.

Hyde John Clarke lived at Wood End House for a while, which is just off the picture on the left.

Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements and thanks are due to the following for sources of information:
Members of St George's Church, Hyde.

Further Reading
Middleton, Thomas, 1899. Annals of Hyde and District. 12 & 14 Brown Street, Manchester: Cartwright & Rattray Ltd.
Middleton, Thomas, 1936. History of Denton and Haughton. Hamnett Street, Hyde: J Andrew & Co Ltd.
Ward, A John, 1973. Chapel into Church.