Chapter 6 – Joseph Clark

Joseph, the third child of William Clark, was born on the 7th June, 1857, and he died on the 21st May, 1940.1 As he was only some four years old at the time of the sinking of the “Onward” his recollections of being held between his father’s legs on the slanting deck of the sinking ship may well have been assisted by hearsay.

However, the vivid accounts given by Joseph to his children and his grandchildren of his being able to play marbles on the deck of the “Pharamond” at times when it was becalmed; of his being carried by his father through the surf at the Durban Point after they had been brought ashore from the “Pharamond” by rowboat; and of his having to walk from the Point, fully dressed and in the blazing heat through the sand all the way to lodgings in Durban Town, are such that they could hardly have come from anything but unforgettable personal recollection. Joseph arrived at Durban when he was five and a half years old.

When he was twenty-two Joseph married Anne Robinson, who was born on the 21st of September, 1860, and whose parents farmed near Mooi River, Natal. The marriage took place on the 26th September, 1879, at the Wesleyan Church at Camperdown, which little church, made of wood and iron, still stands and can be seen on the northern side of the National Road. Anne and her parents were Byrne settlers who arrived in Natal during 1861 aboard the vessel “Cataract.”2

Joseph’s occupation was that of carpenter and builder, or as they called a builder in those days, a mason. He is reputed to have built several buildings in the centre of Durban, mainly in the Point area, and he also built a few cottages at Montclair which are still standing today.

In the belief that the Umgeni River was an insurmountable barrier to the. development of Durban to its north, Joseph invested his money in “God’s good earth” close to the Clairwood railway station that had been built on the new railway line from Durban. He accordingly bought (probably for considerably more than it would have cost him to purchase the whole of the area subsequently developed by Durban North Estates as Durban North) an area of approximately twelve acres of land running along Montclair Road, Montclair. He established his home on some three acres of land at the south easterly corner of Montclair Road and Southwold Avenue, Montclair, where he built a large double-storied home which he called “Grace Villa” after his eldest child Grace. He surrounded his home with a cavort hedge, which by the time of his death was some seven foot high and which, until approximately a year or so prior to his death, Joseph himself used to trim.

One of Joseph’s purposes in having the hedge was to create an impenetrable barrier to keep in the twenty or so Peattie buck which he kept in his garden and orchard. The writer remembers in particular Joseph’s favourite buck, a duiker named “Tinker”; the warnings not to bend down in Tinker’s visibility in case Tinker exercised his habit of occasionally butting those bending down; and the salt that was left out in the garden for Tinker and the other Peattie to lick.

The Peattie were great fighters, and to protect them Joseph kept their horns cut. They all had their names and would answer to their names and would eat out of an extended hand. One Peattie named “Gypsey” once escaped and shortly thereafter Joseph saw her cross a bush path, called to her and when she came to him picked her up and took her home. Another pet that Joseph had was a gander called “Tom”, a real watch dog and armed with large wings he could deter trespassers. Joseph loved birds and would barter sweets for sling shots to protect them.

Joseph and Anne had five children. The first, Grace Jane Isabella, was born on the 9th September, 1880 and died on the 5th February, 1966. Grace qualified as teacher and married John William Goodman (commonly known as Jack) on the 13th January, 1909. Jack and Grace lived at Lydenburg and Jack was elected, on more than one occasion, as the Mayor of Lydenburg and as Provincial Councillor for the Lydenburg District. During the Anglo Boer War Jack Goodman fought on the side of the Boers. He died on the 6th April, 1955. Jack and Grace were not blessed with any children.

Joseph and Anne Clark
Joseph and Anne Clark

The second child was a boy, Reuben Clement, who was born on the 5th day of November, 1882. Reuben’s career was with the Natal, and later the South African, Railways. He married Isabella Paton Dougal on the 4th November, 1911. There are three children of their marriage: Annabel Marjorie, born on the 4th July 1913; Jean Holly, born on the 8th September, 1916; and Margaret Enid, born on the 24th July, 1921. Reuben died, aged 84, on the 6th February, 1967.

The third child was a girl, Pearl Cherry, who was born on the 1st September, 1886. She married her cousin, William Thomas Clark, son of William, brother of Joseph. There were three children of this marriage, Aubrey Desmond Garfield (nicknamed Twiddie) born on the 16th November, 1907 who married Noel Gray on the 1st October, 1938; Beryl Gertrude Garfield, born on the 26th March, 1912, who married Alan Kenneth McFie; and Kenneth Garfield, born on the 20th February, 1910, who married Phyllis Whitcutt on the 27th June, 1936, and who died on the 6th January, 1982. For further details in regard to this portion of the family you are referred to Chapter 5, dealing with Joseph’s elder brother William’s branch of the family. Pearl died aged 80 on the 2nd January, 1967.

The fourth child was Holly Gertrude, a girl born on the 26th October, 1889. She married George Firth, a chemist of African Explosives and Chemical Industries, on the 13th September, 1911. There was one child of their marriage, a girl, Hillary Fay. Holly died on the 6th December, 1960.

The fifth and last child was Leslie Royal, who was born on the 6th July, 1897. Leslie, who at one time was in partnership with William (“W.T.”) Clark, Pearl’s husband, in the Durban law firm of Clark and Clark qualified as an attorney and advocate. He married Edith Gertrude Ducray on the 20th day of June 1928. There was one child of their marriage, a boy, Robin Royal, who was born on the 19th December, 1933. Leslie died aged only 43 on the 9th July, 1940 following a sudden coronary thrombosis.

Robin “Nobby” Clark was one of the moving forces behind this book, and the family research which preceded it. He distinguished himself as an attorney in the firm of Clark and Agar (successor to Clark and Clark), which subsequently merged with Hillier and Co. in the late 60’s to become Leandy, Laroque and Partners. Nobby was a long serving member, and the President, of the Council of The Incorporated Law Society of Natal, the governing body for attorneys in Natal. He also served as President of the Association of Law Societies of South Africa, the national governing body of the attorney’s profession. Like his father, Nobby died suddenly of a coronary thrombosis, on February 19, 1986. At the time of his death Nobby was engaged in one of his favourite pastimes – running in the canefields north of Durban with the “Hash House Harriers” social running group.3Nobby is survived by his wife Glenis (born McNee), and his children Catherine Anderson (also an attorney), Kim, and Robin Leslie junior.

I This chapter was almost entirely written by the late Robin "Nobby" Clark, and I acknowledge his contribution with gratitude. My only additions are the footnotes, and the comments about some of Nobby's achievements - which he was too modest to include in his original draft.
2 I have left this sentence as it was written by Nobby Clark, although his information is not correct in all respects. There was no Byrne ship named "Cataract". John Clark, Natal Settler Agent: The Career of John Moreland. at 211(A.A.Balkema, Cape Town, 1972) The vessel on which the Robinson family arrived was probably the "Cataraqui", which arrived in November 1861. Id. That vessel carried farmworkers and artisans recruited in Yorkshire by Moreland, Byrne's agent, and this may account for the confusion with the Byrne Emigration Scheme.
3 The "Hash House Harriers" is a group of social runners which meets each week, after working hours, for a 5 to 10 km. run - preferably in the canefields north of Durban. The runs were always followed by drinks, snacks and banter. Nobby was at one time the "Grand Master" of this organisation - to which he was kind enough to introduce the writer as a member. Nobby's ashes were scattered besides a cane track on the route of a regular "HHH" run, just south of what was formerly the Head Office of the Hullett Group, on Umhlanga Rocks Drive, and is now the Head Office of Tongaat-Hullett Sugar.