CLERKE (CLARKE), George (c.1626-89), of Watford, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1626, 1st s. of Sir George Clarke, Grocer, of London and Watford by Barbara, da. of Robert Palmer, Grocer, of London and Hill Warden, Beds. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1639; L. Inn 1646; travelled abroad. m. (1) lic. 9 June 1648, Mary (d.1668), da. of Philip Holman, scrivener, of Warkworth, Northants., 2s. d.v.p. 6da.; (2) Sarah, da. of (Sir) Edward Turnor of Little Parndon, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 1649.1
Commr. for militia, Northants. Mar. 1660; j.p. Mar. 1660-87, 1689-d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-80, 1689, loyal and indigent officers 1662, dep. lt. 1662-bef. 1680.2
Clerke’s father, of Warwickshire descent, was one of the leading City Royalists, serving as sheriff of London in 1641-2. ‘The new, honest, stout sheriff’ was chiefly responsible for the election of the loyal Richard Gurney as lord mayor. He was allegedly imprisoned as a delinquent in 1642-3 for refusal to pay his assessment. On his release he went to live on his country property, and at the height of the Civil war, it is stated, enclosed four-fifths of his manor of Watford. He was appointed to several commissions after the Civil War until a few months before his death, when he retired on grounds of ill-health, and suffered no further financial penalties for his loyalty.3
Clerke travelled extensively in most European countries, but held no local office before March 1660. He was proposed as a knight of the Royal Oak, with an estate of £3,000 p.a. He was returned for the county in 1661 after a contest. His record in the Cavalier Parliament cannot always be distinguished from those of Henry Clerke I and John Clarke II, but he was regular in attendance and probably moderately active with at least 62 committee appointments, including those for the uniformity bill and the bill for execution of those under attainder in 1661. In the following year he carried a message from the House to the bishop of Ely. He was named to the committee for the impeachment of Lord Mordaunt in 1667. He was probably teller against the motion for the impeachment of Lord Orrery (Roger Boyle) in 1669, and later in the session was authorized to bring in a bill for the punishment of vandalism. He was listed by Sir Thomas Osborne among the Members who usually voted for supply, though in connexion with the excise he wrote to his absent colleague Sir Justinian Isham, 2nd Bt.: ‘We are in great care, as becomes us, to defend our houses and private families from the mischief of inspection’. In 1670 he was appointed to the committees for the conventicles bill and inspecting the Treasury and navy estimates. On 26 Nov. he was given leave to bring in a bill for building an assize in Northampton. In 1675 he was probably appointed to the committee for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy. On 8 Nov. he acted as teller for the unsuccessful motion to read the bill for rebuilding Northampton, but 11 days later he had the satisfaction of carrying it to the Lords. Shaftesbury first noted Clerke as ‘worthy’ in 1677, but later altered this to ‘vile’, though his name appears on no court lists after 1669. Clerke probably acted as teller for the bill, directed against (Sir) Edward Harley, to decrease control of incumbents by patrons, and against the repeal of the bill forbidding imports of cattle, and served on the committee for educating children of the royal family as Protestants. On 29 Apr. 1678 he was added to the committee to draw up reasons for a conference on the growth of Popery, and on 14 June he carried a Northamptonshire estate bill to the Lords. Clerke does not seem to have stood again, but he opposed exclusion, remaining on the commission of the peace till 1687, when he did not appear to answer the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. He accepted the Revolution, and was reappointed to the county bench, but he was buried at Watford on 29 May 1689. His heir was his nephew Robert, a Roman Catholic, and no later member of the family entered Parliament.4