CLARKE, Edward (1770-1826), of Swainswick and Lainbridge House, Bath, Som.
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Family and Educationb. 28 Nov. 1770, at Lyons, 2nd s. of George Hyde Clarke of Hyde Hall, Cheshire by Katherine Hussey Nesbit, da. of Robert Hussey of Denore, Ireland. educ. Manchester 1780; St. John’s, Camb. 1788. m. (1) 19 Dec. 1791, Anne Margaret (d. 11 Mar. 1821), da. of Maj.-Gen. Sir William Augustine Prevost of Greenhill Grove, East Barnet, Herts., s.p.; (2) 18 Aug. 1821, Sara Russ, 3s. suc. gdfa. to Hyde estate, Jamaica 1776; gt.-uncle to Swainswick estate 1777.
Though the second son of a second son, Edward Clarke came from a family reputed to be among the richest in England. His great-grandfather, George Clarke of Swainswick, lieutenant-governor of New York, returned to England Worth £100,000, having married the heiress of the Hydes of Hyde Hall, Cheshire. His grandfather Edward acquired valuable estates in Jamaica by his marriage there. His father eloped with a neighbouring squire’s daughter and was virtually disinherited. Thus from his grandfather he inherited a plantation worth £5,000 per annum with 350 slaves, and from his great-uncle George an English estate, while his elder brother George inherited Hyde Hall, Cheshire; Hyde Hall, New York; and Swainswick in Jamaica. With all their wealth, the Clarke brothers were virtually orphans: in their great-uncle’s will his ‘dear, unhappy and much injured niece Mrs Katherine Clarke, wife to my abandoned profligate nephew George Hyde Clarke’ was given £300, ‘to enable her to come to England to see her children’.1
Edward Clarke, described by his son later as ‘a great friend of Mr Pitt’, was returned for Wootton Bassett on the interest of his distant kinsman the 2nd Earl of Clarendon, evidently as a paying guest, for his son added: ‘in the support of the great statesman, he spared not his means and thus encumbered his property, which has passed, in consequence, entirely out of the hands of the descendants of George Clarke’2 (i.e. Swainswick, Somerset). Yet the only evidence of Clarke’s political activity is his joining the Whig Club, 3 Feb. 1795, and his voting in the minority: for Sheridan’s motion on specie, 28 Feb. 1797, for adding Fox to the Bank committee, 9 Mar. (though he had also opposed the re