CLARKE, John II (d.1675), of Chirton, Northumb.
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Family and Education
s. of Roger Clarke of Great Torrington, Devon by Honor, da. of Christopher Hockin, clothier, of Frithelstock, Devon. m. Jane, s.p.1
J.p. Northumb. July 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Northumb. 1661-3, Northumb. and Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1664-74; freeman, Newcastle 1662, dep. lt. 1670-d.; commr. for recusants, Cumb. 1675.2
Clarke’s father was twice mayor of Torrington; but nothing certain is known of his own career before the Restoration, when he was probably about 40. He had presumably already entered the service of the Earl of Northumberland, perhaps through the agency of his fellow-Devonian, Hugh Potter. As auditor, he carried out a survey of Corbridge in 1663, and he was returned for Cockermouth on his employer’s interest in 1670. As lessee of a colliery he spoke against taxing mines on 23 Jan. 1671. In 1672 he bought Chirton, where he built a mansion. By agreement with the dowager countess, he obtained materials from Warkworth Castle and labour from the Percy estate. ‘A long cavalcade of 272 wains’ was needed to carry the spoil. He also held a lease of the Alnwick demesnes during the infancy of the heiress. On 9 Feb. 1673 he claimed privilege against a claimant to the earldom, a trunk-maker, who desired to summon him as a witness. Clarke admitted that he was now seized in fee-simple of some of the Northumberland estates:
He stood bound at the last Earl’s death for £40,000, and this estate is for his security. ... Now if you will think fit that the gentleman that brought this petition shall lay down £40,000, he will waive his privilege.
Although fully competent to defend his own interests in the House, he was not active as a committeeman. He may have been appointed to 13 committees, of which perhaps the likeliest to concern him was on the bill for the enfranchisement of Durham; but most of these references are probably to George Clerke. He died on 6 May 1675 ‘after ten days’ sickness, mostly of a lethargy’. His widow married Philip Bickerstaffe.