As is described in Chapter 1, Leonard and Sarah Clark had nine children: John, later of York, Natal (born 1808 near Ripon); Robert; Ellen (born 1810); Jane (born 1812, and died at a young age); Mary (died in infancy);James (born 1819); William, later of Clark Road, Durban (born 1822); Sarah (born 1823); and Ann (born 1826). John and William are discussed in Chapters 9 and 2 respectively. Except that he married Ellen Lister (or Lista), nothing is known of what became of Robert. What little is known of the other children who survived to adulthood is discussed in this chapter.
Ellen Clark, Leonard and Sarah’s eldest daughter, married William Garbutt, in Kirklington, on January 18, 1840. The Garbutt family lived in Ripon, not far from Kirklington, and had at least one child – a son. Ellen died on May 22, 1872, thereby predeceasing her mother, Sarah Clark, who died on January 13, 1883, aged. 94. Ellen is buried with her mother in the churchyard of Ripon Cathedral.1 On a visit to Yorkshire in 1932, Sylvia Battcock – great grand-daughter of John Clark of York, Natal, and mother of Hilary Battcock – met Ellen’s daughter in law. Sylvia did not give the daughter in law’s first name, referring to her only as “Mrs. Garbutt”. In a letter to John Frank Clark of April 28, 1932, Sylvia comments as follows on the meeting:
We went round to see Mrs. Garbutt at Westbourne Grove; she is seventy-seven and remembers old Sarah Clark quite well. She was very interested to hear that I was the daughter of John Frank Clark. Mrs. Garbutt writes to quite a number of Clarks in Natal, and seemed quite surprised when I did not know much about them. [They include] W.T. Clark and a Muriel Clark who was at the academy for music for three years, and the Listers.2 Mrs. Garbutt … did not look her 77 years, with her clear skin, and young looking figure. We drove past the Low Mills old Mill House where Sarah Clark carne to live with her daughter after she became a widow.
Humphrey Battcock – Sylvia’s husband – also commented on the meeting with Mrs. Garbutt, in a letter to John Frank Clark which is dated June 1, 1933. He says that Mrs. Garbutt “asked us a lot about some Clarks in Durban [and] was very interested in the (is it Willy) Clarks of Durban”. Quite obviously the John Clark and William Clark descendants in Natal did not have much to do with each other in those days: as Humphrey comments, “to find a branch of the family unknown under our nose in Durban rather took the vim out of our questions about a branch or branches of the family. . . in Yorkshire”.
Leonard and Sarah’s third son, James, remained in England. At the time of his father Leonard’s death in 1849, James was living in Sutton Howgrave, and he appears to have continued living there after Leonard’s death.3 James married Ann Blythe, and seven children were born of that marriage: Jane (born December 17,1841), who married John Marshall; George John (horn March 22, 1845), who married Hannah Denniss; James (never married); Esther (born April 9, 1849), who married David Atkinson; Robert (born May 4, 1852), who married Ellen; and Leonard Blythe, who married Ann Craggs. The family of James Clark appear to have been unpretentious working folk. Unlike the carpentry/building background of the families of his brothers John and William, many of James Clark’s family appear to have worked on the coal mines of East Yorkshire and Durham, or on the railways in Leeds. In a letter to John Frank Clark dated May 12,1917, Ernest Clark (son of Leonard Blythe Clark and Ann Clark) writes that:
We are having very hard times in our country. Nearly all the pits are working from 3 to 4 days a week. Living is very dear in England, everything is double pre war price. (Sounds familiar! – Ed.) I have a brother fighting in France. He has been in the army since August 1914. He went to France in January last year for his second time. I enlisted when war first broke out but got my discharge and am back at work in the Pits. Father has been working in the Pits till this year and he came out on account of his age. He knocks about cutting hedges for the farmers. Father has told us often that we had relatives in South Africa.
Ernest Clark was living at Butterknowle, County Durham, when he wrote the letter from which the above extract is taken. He later moved to nearby Cockfield. His brother Leonard also lived at Butterknowle, while other siblings lived at Ripon (Jane), Lowmoor (James, Jr.), “Pity Me” (Arthur) and Leeds (Robert).
Leonard and Sarah’s second youngest daughter, Sarah Ann, married John Walls. The Walls’ had one child – a daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth married a man named Gibson, and from that marriage three children were born: John William Gibson; Sarah Elleor Gibson; and Alfred Gibson. It seems that the entire Walls/Gibson family emigrated to the United States, where they settled in the town of Mechanicville, on the Hudson River, in upstate New York. In a letter which John Gibson wrote from the United States to John Frank Clark on January 28, 1916, he says:
The writer remembers quite distinctly the visits of John Clark (presumably John Clark of York) coming to England to visit his mother. At that time the writer was about ten years of age and lived in Ripon. We later came to this country and have resided here ever since.
Unfortunately John Gibson did not provide any dates of birth, marriage, or departure from England. It seems, however, that Sarah and her son in law’s family must have emigrated to the United States in the 1880’s. Based on the fact that John Gibson’s letter was written from the same town in which Sarah’s younger sister Ann had settled some years earlier (see below), it seems that Ann Clark was probably instrumental in Sarah’s move to the United States. Interestingly, Gibson says that his aunt (Ann) had told him of two of her brothers, named John and William, “that went out to Africa about fifty years ago”!
Leonard and Sarah’s youngest child, Ann, married George Pattison, a shoe maker, at Kirklington on May 18,1850. George was born on June 28,1821, at Filiskirk, England. Shortly after their marriage, Ann and George emigrated to the United States, and their first child – Sarah Ellen Pattison – was born on November 26, 1851, at Stillwater, in upstate New York. Sarah married Joseph Rily (sic) Howroyd, of Leeds, England. Three other children were born of Ann Clark’s marriage to George Pattison: Richard James Pattison (born February 13, 1855); Mary Ann Pattison (born March 15,1858), who married Charles R. Young of Chicago, and moved to Kansas City; and George Clark Pattison (born January 25, 1860). By the time of George Clark Pattison’s birth, the family had apparently moved to the nearby town of Mechanicville, where he was born. Ann Pattison lived in Mechanicville until her death on January 10, 1914. At that time she was apparently living with her daughter Sarah, whose address she shared – 88 Railroad Street. Her son in law’s occupation is given as a “teamster”, i.e. one whose work is hauling loads with a team or truck.
Our ancestor William Clark apparently maintained contact with his sister Ann, through correspondence, while she was living in the United States. In a letter in September 1915, to John Frank Clark, Clarice Middleton (nee Garbutt)4 writes of her trip to Yorkshire, and includes the comment that “old Uncle William Clark of Clark Road corresponded with Ann Patterson (sic) in America. They were on the Hudson River somewhere”. She also comments that
I did not hear or see anything of the descendants of James Clark and his wife Ann Blythe, or of John Walls and his wife Sarah Clark. (This was presumably because by this time the Wall’s had moved to the United States – Ed.)
An interesting feature of John Frank Clark’s correspondence with family members overseas (primarily the Pattisons’, Coopers’, Garbutts’ and James Clarks’) is the number of references to those who had settled in the United States. This raises questions whether the American Civil War played any part in our ancestor William Clark’s decision to come to Natal, and whether he ever considered moving to the United States instead. The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865, i.e. exactly when William was in the process of leaving Yorkshire. Of course his brother John had come to Natal long before the Civil War commenced, and John’s presence in Natal may have been the primary reason for coming to Southern Africa. However, William’s sister Ann had emigrated to America shortly after John left for Natal, and after the Civil War ended she was followed by William’s other sister, Sarah. How different things would have been if William had followed Ann to the United States, rather than following John to Natal!
1 I was able to find the gravestone on my visit to Ripon in 1979. However, I was unable to find it on my visit in 1990. Many graves are overgrown with grass, and others have been damaged or have fallen over.2 This suggests that members of the family of Leonard Clark's daughter in law, Ellen Lister (wife of Robert), may have ended up in Natal.3 James and Ann's daughter Esther was born in Howgrave in 1849. She was married in the Kirklington Church on June 10, 1864 - indicating that the family were still in the area at that time. J. F Clark papers: note entitled "Clark Family".4 Grand-daughter of John Clark of York, and daughter of Mary Clark and Robert Garbutt.