Edward Knights Clarke 1831-1881

Edward Knights Clarke seated and wearing a checked jacket.



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It is a cased ambrotype, and thus likely to date from between 1851 and 1860. The attribution for this shot is solid. The likeness matches a captioned shot of him and is paired with the outback shot below. The only other Clarke known to have traveled to Oz is Edward's gt grandfather Charles. What is happening with his chin isn't clear.


3rd July 1831
Rev. Charles Clarke, MA, Rector of the Parish of St. Mary's, Henstead, Suffolk.
Ann Clarke

The name Knights came from his paternal grandmother: Anne Knights of Burgh Castle near Yarmouth.


Possibly showing part of the land where Edward Clarke farmed. On the 27th June 1850 Edward K. Clarke sailed for Hobart, Tasmania, abord a vessel called the Australia. He was just 18 years old.

Like his brothers Frank, William and Richard, the prospect of a sedentary existence in East Anglia held little appeal for him. Together with many thousands of other Britains he succumbed to the lure of prosperity which, the guide books alleged, awaited those willing to make the journey to the colonies.

All the brothers were raised in the style which their father Charles had intended: one close to his own - that of a country gentleman. All of them were defeated by the environmental conditions they encountered overseas.

This photo gives me the shivers. Not that the location it depicts was cold. Indeed, you can almost feel the heat coming off the screen. What did Edward make of 'New South Wales' where his sheep farm was located? Did his upbringing in Suffolk prepare him for this? Did Parson Clarke receive this view from his son's new country?


On 16th September 1867 Edward was married at Swan Hill, a town on the Murray River, in the state of Victoria, to Ellen Dorgan, a maid living at Swan Hill House. She was born around 1847 to William Dorgan and Ellen (née Daly) in Cork, Ireland. The ceremony was conducted according to the Catholic faith of the Dorgans. Edward's CofE clergyman father had died ten years previously, and so did not endure a repeat of the similar deviation undergone by Edward's brother Frank who also married an Irishwoman.

Edward's marriage produced no children, but mention is made of an (unamed) adopted daughter.


The NSW records are particularly detailed and quite hard to read.

23rd February 1881
Balranald, New South Wales, Australia - a town on the Murrumbidgee River.
Cause of death
Asphyxia ... (Illegible)
28th February 1881 at the Town Station of Balranald.

Edward Knights Clarke was drowned in the Murray river at a place called Chalonite. This location, although it has an authentic 'ring' to it, I have been unable to trace.

Edward was returning home from a trip to market in a boat, accompanied by one other (unamed) person. Apparently, for some reason, it overturned. February being (presumably) a dry season, the flow should not have been dangerous. More detail if I get it.

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Last modified: 2020 January 21st.