William Clark Snr.’s third child, and second son, bore his name. William junior was born in Melmerby, Northern Yorkshire, on November 28, 1854.1 He was therefore only nine years old when the family arrived in Natal. The events leading to the Clark family’s arrival in Natal are described in Chapter 2. That story is largely based on William’s account of the family’s first and subsequent attempt to get to Natal.2 Gwen Sanders recounts that William once told her of the initial voyage which ended in the shipwreck off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire. He went on to tell her that on returning to their home town (presumably Osmotherley), the family were feted, fed and housed. Friends and well wishers contributed to a fund established to enable the family to try once again to get to Natal, and thereby achieve what William was fond of describing as “building a super South Africa”. He told Gwen that, from their earnings and from “devious” means, the entire family accumulated sufficient money to repay all who had contributed to the fund established to enable the family to get to Natal.
William was apparently a healthy young man, and in the 1932 newspaper interview he described how he chased and ran down an impala through the Umbilo bush – eventually capturing it alive and taking it back to the family home in Clark Road. William also told Gwen Sanders, “from my grandfathers knee”, of an incident which occurred when he and a friend were meandering among the mangroves in the area where Maydon Wharf now stands. They were dressed in their knickerbockers, stockings and boots, with sharp knives tucked into the tops of their stockings, when they came across an enormous python. The python was lethargic, having just consumed a young peattie buck. The two lads attacked the python, severed its head, and extracted a slimy young buck! Even at the age of fifty, according to the newspaper article referred to earlier, William was in good enough physical shape to save a man from drowning in the Amanzimtoti lagoon.
At the age of fifteen, i.e. in 1869, William was apprenticed as a blacksmith to a Mr. David Gavin of Durban. However, in 1876 he set off for Pretoria “to make a fortune”. There he “started as a joiner with Mr. Christopher Cato, brother of the late Mr. John Cato of Cato Road Durban” .3 Cato was commandeered to join in the Sekukuni campaign, and he asked William to look after his store and family while he was away. However, remarking that he “was not married and therefore would not have a wife and 12 children to mourn his death”, William joined up in Cato’s place. The “campaign” consisted of an expedition by President Burghers against Chief Sekukuni of the Bapedi tribe in the Eastern Transvaal, in which the Boers were “ignominously routed”.4 The following anecdote about his military service at that time is attributed to William:
He joined the artillery under Lieutenant Johnson, who took a great dislike to him at the Pretoria Square Drill Hall. Johnson promised Clark that as soon as they were out on trek he would have him tied to a disselboom and given 25 lashes. Mr. Clark countered by assuring his officer that if he were lashed, no Lieut. Johnson would ever return to Pretoria. “This put great fear into him”, said Mr. Clark, “and he turned out to be one of the best friends I had on the campaign”.5
William returned to Durban in 1878, and rejoined the Royal Durban Rifles, of which he had been a founder member in 1872. He served with that regiment throughout the Zulu War of 1879. After returning to Durban, William went into the wagon building business. William became the senior partner of Clark and Kent, which he reportedly established in 1894.6 The firm is still in existence, but now conducts business as a panel beater! The gold rush years were reportedly very good for William’s business, and also for his love life, because one of his customers turned out to be William’s prospective father in law. The courtship was apparently somewhat spasmodic, being initially dependant on the vagaries of a continuing business relationship with the prospective father in law!
On August 18, 1880 William married Sarah Elizabeth Evans, at Camperdown. Elizabeth was the oldest child of Thomas Evans of Camperdown, and was born on April 16, 1860.
Grand-daughter Barbara Swanson still has in her possession the beautifully bound gilt edged Bible which was presented to the couple, and which is inscribed as having been presented to William and Sarah “from Fannie Howitt and John Hamlyn on the occasion of their marriage”. By this marriage William gave to his branch of the family the distinctive “Evans” name which became the middle name of many of their descendants.
After several disappointments, the newlyweds found board and lodging in a decrepid lodging house at the beach end of Pine Street, very near to the old booms at the Point railway line rail crossing. In 1890 William and Sarah built their own home on an approximately two and a half acre plot at 200 Manning Road. An old photograph taken around 1890, now in the possession of Gwen Sanders, shows a clear view from the grounds of the Manning Road house towards the Durban Bay, over a sparsely populated Glenwood. The Manning Road “estate” was named Ashburton, and was thereby linked to William and Sarah’s original meeting place near Camperdown. The orchard boasted almost every conceivable tropical fruit, including paw paws, oranges without pips, navel oranges, naartjies, lady finger bananas, string mangoes, kidney mangoes, guavas, china guavas, pompelmoos, sorrel, catawba grapes, white grapes, mulberries, lemons, limes, martingulas, figs, and loquats. The orchard is described by Gwen Sanders as having been a “feast for friend and foe”! William subsequently bought some property in lower Clark Road, and built several double storey houses on the property, as an investment for his retirement – with the result that Clark family members owned almost all of the land to the southwest of Clark Road, from Clark Grove to Bulwer Road.
William was the proud owner of a horse and carriage, which were stabled in the grounds of the home on Manning Road. Gwen Sanders remembers William and Sarah using the carriage for weekly shopping, and tethering the horse at their usual hitching rail outside of Kings Sports in West Street. When this mode of transport became outdated, and the tram service was extended to the terminus at the Bulwer Road end of Bulwer Park, the couple started using the tram for their trips to town. They would get to and from the terminus by ricksha, pulled by their regular puller named Joe. According to Barbara, Joe had woolly hair ornamented by two ornate snuff spoons, with multi coloured earrings of about five centimetres in diameter embedded in his ear lobes! For the going rate of a “bob”, i.e. a shilling,7Joe would transport the William Clark’s from the terminus, up Bath Road, along Manning Road, and up the steep driveway of Ashburton!
William was a benefactor and foundation member of the Manning Road Wesleyan (Methodist) Church. He assisted financially and physically in the construction of what is now the hall and Sunday School, and later financially supported the construction of the existing church building. The William Clark family also subscribed to and assisted in establishing the Umbilo Road Wesleyan Church. He maintained links with his family, friends and benefactors in Yorkshire, making three trips back to England – accompanied with gifts for those who had assisted the family in their efforts to emigrate to Natal. In addition, William paid for sea passages, on four occasions, for friends and benefactors who came to visit him in Durban.
William and Sarah had three children : William Thomas, born October 2, 1881; Ernest Clifford, born on January 1, 1884; and Herbert Evans, born on June 23 1886. William Thomas, or “W.T.”, as he was known, was an attorney in Durban. He was a partner with his cousin Leslie8 in the firm of Clark and Clark. That firm continued to exist – with Leslie’s son Robin Royal (“Nobby”) Clark as a partner – until the late 60’s. At that time, as Clark and Agar, the firm was merged into the firm of Leandy, Laroque and Partners. “W.T.” Clark was an enthusiastic lay preacher. His regular “beat” was the steps of the main Durban Post Office, where he could usually be found at 5 p.m. seeking prospective converts by preaching to the afternoon cinemagoers! He married his cousin Holly, daughter of Joseph Clark. Three children were born of the marriage : Aubrey Desmond Garfield (nicknamed “Twiddie”), born on November 16, 1907, an advocate and attorney of Durban, who married Noel Gray, and carried on his law practice under the name of Clark and Robbins; Kenneth Garfield, (February 20,1910 – January 6, 1982), who was for a number of years the Chairman of Queens Club in Durban, who married Phyllis Whitcutt; and Beryl Gertrude Garfield (March 26, 1912), who married Kenneth John McFie. In the early 80’s “Twiddie” was presented with a special award by the Natal Law Society, to commemorate his many years of service to the legal profession in Natal. At that time he was one of the last – if not the last – “dual practitioner” in Natal. The right of “dual practice” i.e. the right to practise in Natal as both an advocate and attorney, applied only to persons who entered the profession prior to 1927.
William and Sarah’s second son, Ernest Clifford Clark (born January 1, 1884), married Eva Kate Rawson (born ,January 6, 1887). Ernest was “hospitalised” out of the army during World War 1, while serving in East Africa, having contracted – among other things – tubercolosis, from which he never recovered. He was nursed by, and died in the arms of, his brother Herbert. A daughter, Lola Clifford Clark, was born of the marriage, on September 26, 1908. She was married, respectively, to men named McGlew and Seaton.
Herbert Evans Clark married Alice Muriel Gooden (April 24,1888 -June 9, 1972) at the Manning Road Wesleyan Church on April 23, 1913. He was a soccer enthusiast, and a member of the Stella Football Club for many years. Herbert eventually became the president of the club, and also vice-president of the Natal Football Association. At one time there were no less than nine Clarks representing the Stella Football Club! Herbert and Alice had four children.9 First was Maurice Evans Clark (born September 2,1914) who married Joan Fell, lived in Durban, and had five children – Allan, Lorraine, Faye, Kevin and Stuart. Next was Gwendoline Evans Clark (born December 5, 1917), who married Douglas Sanders, lived in Durban, and also had five children – Graham, Susan, Jane, Rohan and Richard. The third child was Raymond Evans Clark, who married Pat Michaux, lived most of his life in Salisbury, Rhodesia, then moved to the Cape. He had two children – Jill Riddoch Evans Clark and Peter Murray Evans Clark. Youngest of Herbert’s family was Barbara Evans Clark, who married Basil Swanson, lived in Durban and then Johannesburg, and had five children – Lynne, John, Paul, Brian and Brenda.
In the joint will which William and Sarah executed in 1908 – before their son William T. Clark as the Notary Public – William is described as a “wagon builder”. He retired from Clark and Kent in 1917, at the age of 63. At the time he was still the senior partner, and he handed over the reins to his partner Fred Kent.10 William died in 1938, and Sarah on February 1, 1947.
1 I acknowledge and appreciate the assistance which I received from Gwen Sanders and Barbara Swanson, grandchildren of William Clark, in compiling and reviewing the information contained in this chapter.
2 "It Took Seventy Days From England To Durban In 1861"; Week- End Advertiser, April 16, 1932.3 Id. John Cato - the half brother of the well known early Durban burgesses Christopher and George Cato, - died in 1867. Shelagh Spencer, British Settlers In Natal Vol. 4, at p. 53. George Cato was, of course, the first Mayor of Durban. Id., at p. 57 The various streets and areas of Durban which bear the name "Cato" are attributed to either George or Christopher Cato. John McIntyre, Origin of Durban Street Names , at p. 26.4 Brookes and Webb, A History of Natal. at p. 126 (University of Natal Press 1965).
5 Weekly Advertiser article, supra,6 Durban Past and Present. Compiled and Edited by Allister MacMillan, at pages 195-196. However, as mentioned in Chapter 2, Bobbin Eales suggests that it was William Clark Senior after whom Clark and Kent is named.
7 For the benefit of the post decimalization generation, this was twelve pence, or the monetary equivalent (but obviously not the equivalent in purchasing power) of the current ten cents.
8 The Son of Joseph Clark, and father of Nobby. See Chapter 6.
9 Two children of Herbert. and Alice died in infancy: Bryan Evans Clark (born July 29, 1923), and Keith Evans Clark (born November 13, 1927). These names are recorded on the flyleaf of the family Bible in the possession of Barbara Swanson.
10 Durban Past and Present, supra.