John Frank Clark was the grandson of John Clark of York, Natal. He served with distinction as a Magistrate in various locations in Natal, including New Hanover, Bulwer, and Greytown. However, in the context of Clark family history his most important characteristic was that he was a careful and dogged researcher into the genealogy of the Clark family and of the families into which his John Clark branch married.
John Frank Clark created a treasure trove of family information in the form of correspondence with relatives, family trees, and research notes. Sadly his original files have not been located since the death of his daughter, Clarice Catterall, in Durban. Fortunately, substantial portions of those files were copied before Clarice’s death, and these copies of the papers are still available. Some will eventually be published on this web site, and the rest will hopefully be published in hard copy. Watch this space for further developments!
The correspondence in the John Frank Clark papers dates between 1915 and 1933, and includes communications with the families of the siblings of John and William who had remained in Yorkshire, and the families of John and William’s sisters Sarah and Ann, who emigrated to the United States, and settled in upstate New York. He also corresponded with members of the families who married into the Clark family. The latter includes the following English families of Yorkshire and other English origins:
- Thomas Boddy (b. Sinderby, Yorkshire, April 27, 1927)
- Robert Clark (b 1815 at ?, Yorkshire)
- Thomas Cooper (of Thornton Steward: d. September 17, 1843)
- Robert Garbutt (b. June 4, 1827, Yorkshire)
- Thomas Vause (b. 1840 at Skipton (?), Yorkshire: d. June 1921)
- William Winn (b. Thornton Steward November 16, 1829: d. 1910)
- George Pattison (b. June 28, 1821 at Filiskirk, England; d. Mechanicville, New York, USA, May 21, 1898)
- Joseph Plaskett Liddell (b. Waterhouse, Adlington, Lancashire on May 14, 1818: d. July 29, 1889 in Clarens, OFS, South Africa).
John Frank’s modus operandi seems to have been that he would write to family members and ask them to list parents, children and grandchildren, dates of birth, etc. In at least one instance he wrote to the local postmaster and asked him to locate and find one of the family member addressees – and the postmaster obliged by finding the distant cousin and delivering John Frank’s letter!
Also included in John Frank Clark’s papers are letters written to him in 1932 by his daughter Sylvia Battcock, reporting on her visit to Yorkshire and on her contacts with various family members.