CLARKE, Sir Gilbert (c.1645-1701), of Somershall Hall, Brampton, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. c.1645, o. surv. s. of Godfrey Clarke of Somershall by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Milward of Eaton Dovedale. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. matric. 12 July 1661, aged 16; I. Temple 1667. m. (1) Jane (d. 18 May 1667), da. and h. of Robert Byerley of Hornby, Yorks., 1da.; (2) 6 July 1671, Barbara (d. Aug. 1687), da. of George Clerke of Watford, Northants., 2s. 2da.; (3) Frances, da. of Richard Legh of Lyme, Cheshire, wid. of Robert Tatton of Wythenshawe, Cheshire, s.p. suc. fa. 1670; kntd. 2 Mar. 1671.1
J.p. Derbys. 1672-6, 1685-Mar. 1688, 1689-96, 1700-d., commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90, recusants 1675, sheriff 1675-6, dep. lt. 1683-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-96, by 1701-d.2
Clarke’s ancestors acquired the Somershall estate near Chesterfield in Elizabethan times, but none of them entered Parliament. His father was accused of raising men for the King in the Civil War, but the charge was never made good, and he was appointed to the assessment committee in 1657 and to the militia committee just before the Restoration. Clarke acquired most of the Milward estate by purchase or inheritance. The Chesterfield area was already a centre of heavy industry, and it was presumably to avoid involvement in the imposition of the hearth-tax on forges and furnaces that Clarke resigned from the commission of the peace in 1676 on the rather unlikely grounds of age and infirmity. Having recovered from these complaints he was returned as a Tory for Derbyshire in 1685 with the support of the Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish). He was a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, in which he was appointed to three committees, those to report on expiring laws, to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings, and to consider an estate bill. He ‘would not promise’ his consent to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, or to vote for the court candidates, and was removed from local office. He was again moderately active in the Convention. According to the Ailesbury list he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. Among his 30 committees were those to recommend alterations in the coronation oath, to inquire into the authors and advisers of recent grievances, to consider the bill to prevent mutiny and desertion, and to report on the political prisoners. He helped to consider the toleration bill and the bill of rights and settlement. He remained a Tory in the next two Parliaments, refusing the Association in 1696. He died on 30 May 1701 and was buried at Brampton. His son Godfrey sat for Derbyshire as a Tory from 1710 to 1734.3