CLERKE, Francis II (c.1655-1715), of North Weston, Oxon. and Hillingdon, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1655, 4th s. of Sir John Clerke, 1st Bt., of Shabbington and Hitcham, Bucks. and North Weston by Philadelphia (d. 1698), da. and coh. of Sir Edward Carr of Hillingdon. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. (demy) matric. 31 July 1671, aged 16, BA 1675, MA 1678, fellow 1676–82. m. (1) 23 Mar. 1698, Eleanor Reynardson, s.p.; (2) Grace (d. 1726), s.p. suc. fa. at North Weston 1667, mother at Hillingdon 1698.1
Cornet of horse, Capt. Hon. Henry Bertie’s (I)* indep. tp. 1685.2
Clerke’s family had been established at North Weston, on the borders of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, since at least the early 16th century. His father was created a baronet in 1660 in apparent acknowledgment of support rendered to the Royalist cause during the Civil Wars. Until his later twenties, Clerke, a younger son, led a scholarly existence at Oxford University, afterwards settling down as a country gentleman on the North Weston estates he had inherited from his father as a boy. In 1685 he was commissioned a junior officer in a volunteer troop raised against Monmouth by Hon. Henry Bertie, an Oxfordshire neighbour who was soon to marry Clerke’s niece. There is no indication, however, as to whether he saw action at Sedgemoor, after which the troop was soon disbanded. He has been identified as the ‘Mr Clarke’ who stood unsuccessfully against Sir William Whitlock* in the Oxford University by-election of November 1703. Dr William Delaune, the president of St. John’s College, described him to Robert Harley* as ‘a very worthy gentlemen of our county, related to my Lord Abingdon [Montagu Venables-Bertie*, Lord Norreys] and well known to Mr Solicitor [Simon Harcourt I*]’. At the general election of 1710 he was returned unchallenged as knight of the shire for his native county, his brother-in-law and near neighbour, Sir Edward Norreys*, having retired from one of the seats in 1708.3
Classified in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory, Clerke featured in the first session as a ‘worthy patriot’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous Whig ministry, and in another listing as a ‘Tory patriot’ opposed in 1711 to the continuance of war. Because of the common mis-spelling of his surname, most parliamentary activity by Clerke is indistinguishable from that of two other Tories, Godfrey* and George Clarke*, the former being returned in 1710, the latter at the end of May 1711. On 18 June 1713 he voted against the French commerce bill. In the preparations for the 1713 election, he volunteered to stand down in favour of the son of Lord Chancellor Harcourt (Simon I), Hon. Simon Harcourt III*, but so prejudiced were the Oxfordshire gentry against Harcourt that Clerke was persuaded to remain. His continuing Tory allegiance was recorded both in the Worsley list and in a later analysis comparing the 1713 Parliament with that of 1715. Re-elected in 1715, he died at Hillingdon a few months later, on 2 May, and was buried, as requested, at ‘my chapel at North Weston’. His chief beneficiary was his nephew Francis Carr Clerke, the son of his younger brother Richard, who served the county of Oxfordshire from 1697 to 1716 as clerk of the peace. Clerke also left money towards the completion of a ‘house of correction’ at Thame. There were, however, debts and legacies still owing from the estates in 1720, totalling £6,000.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. F. G. Lee, Hist. Thame Church, 290, 311–14; IGI, London; PCC 71 Pott, 85 Fagg; VCH Oxon. vii. 173.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 209.
- 3. Ibid.; Hist. Oxf. Univ. ed. Sutherland and Mitchell, 72; Add. 70223, Delaune to Harley, 26 Nov. 1704.
- 4. HMC Portland, vii. 118, 139; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700–15, p. 304; PCC 85 Fagg; VCH Oxon. vii. 173; Lee, 313–14.