My branch of the Clark family can trace its
history back to about 1650, with
a fair degree of accuracy. In those days men were
either called John or Thomas, which makes research rather difficult.
We were brought up believing that an ancestor,
John Clark, was a surgeon in Trafalgar. My family tree, first put together by my grandfather in the 1960's, showed that the John Clark in question must have been either 80 years of age or about 4, so it could not have been either of these.
The Trafalgar Roll in the National Archives lists a John Clark on the Dreadnought, who was a Surgeon's third mate. No date or place of birth.
Could this be our man?
Easter 2007, and my cousin finds a handwritten
notebook from the 19th
century, written in part by our Great
Grandfather. He explains that John Clark was at Trafalgar, on the Dreadnought, that he was a surgeon at Weldon in Northamptonshire. He recalled that he gave money to the village and paid for a stained glass window in the church.
Next stop Weldon, and wow, we found his grave! He
died in 1863 at age 77. The church was locked up but I made a note of where to get the keys.
The Census information for 1841 for Weldon had
been destroyed. However, I found him on the 1851 and 1861. I now know he was born in Market Harborough.
Back to Weldon last week to meet the Verger and
her husband, who were as excited as we were. They knew all about John. There was a plaque on the
church wall in his memory and the East window
behind the alter was fantastic, and recently restored. To cap it all, in the glass at the bottom a
dedication 'To the honour of God this window given
by John Clark AD 1860 44 years surgeon this place who served 12 years in the Royal Navy, and served at
the Battle of Trafalgar".
John died 3 years after the window was dedicated
so his service at Trafalgar is confirmed beyond
But, that¹s not the end of it. On Trafalgar day
the church remembers the
battle and even held parades in the past.
In 2005 to mark the Bi-Centenary, the vergers husband obtained a copy of his will and they tried
to trace any ancestors. Unfortunately I didn't show up until last week.
The will was written 5 weeks before his death. He
was a very wealthy man and left a host of bequests to family and friends....even tells us that he
had three brothers and two sisters which we didn't
His relationship to me? His grandfather is my 4
times great grandfather.
Next job is to present our findings to the National Archives and the National Maritime museum, but more importantly, track down any decendants
from those other brothers!
45 Tunbridge Lane
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