Clarke Family

Was Your Ancestor a Kew Gardener?

FMNHave you discovered a gardener in your family? Perhaps, like me, you have come across one or more ancestors noted in the census records as gardeners, horticulturalists, or nurserymen. Some, like Thomas Gee, learned their trade by serving as apprentices. Others, like my father’s cousin Frank Clarke, may have trained at a horticultural school such as that at Kew Gardens on the outskirts of London, England. If they studied at Kew, there are resources available to help you learn more about their training and later employment. In some cases, you will be able to fill in the gaps between census enumerations.

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On This Day: 4 September 1932 - Death of Walter Clarke

CLARKE Walter with captionEighty-four years ago today, on 4 September 1932, great-uncle Walter Clarke died in Palgrave, Suffolk, England at the age of 71. He was a public-spirited man, and his death was therefore felt not only by family, but by his community as well. The Diss Express for 9 September 1932 carried a report of Uncle Walter’s death that included many details of his public service.

Walter was born in Palgrave in 1861 and trained as a printer-compositor. He worked for Francis Cupiss of Diss, Norfolk, a veterinarian medicines manufacturer who operated several printing presses to create, among other things, labels for his horse and cattle medications.

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A Victorian Police Constable

Bobby 1892 cropped Police constables in late Victorian London (England) patrolled beats that were on average 7.5 miles (12 km) in length. Patrolling was not limited to daytime, though; beat walking continued on through the night. The night beats were generally shorter – only about 2 miles long. With the appearance of motorised cars in 1890, the policeman’s duties expanded to include point duty: directing traffic. All of these duties had their challenges. Monotony seems to have been an issue, especially during nighttime patrols. There were dangers from motorised traffic getting too close, and injuries could be sustained in the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminals.

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Did they really marry?

After my great-grandfather, Walter William Rowe, died in 1879, my great-grandmother, Hannah, remarried. Although I’ve searched for years, I have found no record of her second marriage. I suspect that it was a marriage that was never blessed by either church or state.

Hannah was born Hannah Mitchell Howes on 22 December 1853 in West Lynn, Norfolk, England. Howes was her mother’s maiden name, Mitchell the name of her reputed father. When Hannah’s parents eventually married in 1861, Hannah began sometimes using the surname Mitchell; on other occasions she reverted to Howes.

Marriage to Walter William Rowe 1876

Hannah’s first marriage was to Walter William Rowe. The couple married on 31 July 1876 in Willington on Tyne, Northumberland, where they were both living at the time.

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Benjamin Clarke: Military Funeral

There are many men in my family tree named Benjamin Clarke. The one I’m writing about now is my great-uncle Benjamin, born 25 July 1879 in Palgrave, Suffolk. He was the youngest brother of my paternal grandfather, Hugh James Clarke, who I have written about previously.

When I began researching my family history, I was told that Benjamin had lost a leg in the Boer War. As with many family stories, this one had some truth to it, but was not entirely accurate. Benjamin did serve in the Boer War, and he did lose a leg, but not in the Boer War.

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Three Thousand Families

Four Mile Creek, Cross Roads, Lawrenceville, Virgil. These were the names given to the small community on the Niagara peninsula, first settled about 1783, that my paternal grandparents came to call home in the mid-1920s. Today it’s part of the very chic little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Hugh James Clarke, Sr, and his wife, Mary Rowe, were 52 and 46 years of age, respectively, when they arrived in Niagara from Palgrave, Suffolk to begin farming. Hugh had been a market gardener in Palgrave, and intended to do the same in Virgil. Not much of their new property had been cleared prior to their arrival, though, and getting their farm up and running involved hard, physical labour.

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Domestic Service & The Girls' Friendly Society

Between 1919 and 1930, more than 120,000 female domestic servants arrived at Canadian ocean ports, and of those, nearly 75,000 were from the British Isles. My aunt, Florence Clarke, was one of them. She was a young woman of twenty-five when she disembarked, alone, at the port of Quebec on 30 July 1926. Like many women of her age, Flo had grown up in rural England and had made her way to the city, in her case, Liverpool, to seek work as a domestic servant. By the time she left England in 1926, Flo had been in domestic service for 12 years, having obtained a labour certificate to leave school at the age of 13.

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