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John Clarke of Larling

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No record of birth or baptism is known. John's existance is predicated mainly on legend aquired by ASC . Suckling shows John's putative father Edward writing a Will dated 1729 . Mother's name unknown.

John had 1C0Rs with births in 1669, 1672, 1674, 1682 and 1684. John may have been born near that time frame.

Residence / geography

This account may be easier to follow if it is understood that Larling(ford) , Harling (all sectors), Roudham and Garboldisham all lie within a few miles of each other, somewhat east of Thetford in Norfolk. Conversely, Beccles , North Cove and Raveningham are grouped also near the border with Suffolk but closer to Lowestoft.

Says ASC -

... John, who at one time lived at Larlingford ,

This is backed up, to an extent, by John's Will that indicates he has property there. Its catalogue entry at the Norfolk Records Office says that it was drawn up by Richard Croftes ?-1781 of West Harling , just 2½ miles south of Larling, and explains why the Will is held by Norfolk (rather than Suffolk for Beccles). However at the time of writing (1717) John says that he resides at Beccles . This is where ASC claims that John's father, Edward, was based. Did John acquire property from his father?

A Mrs. Barlee , writing about the beginning of the last century [1] states that this John Clarke was in the year 1729, Lord of the Manor of East Harling in Norfolk. (This I have been unable to verify. ASC.) [2] in ancient times there were several potential and interesting “ seigniorial rights ” in the Custom Roll of this manor. For instance every tenant of the manor that married out of the homage, was obliged to pay the Lord a bed, bolster, sheet and pillow! This was constantly observed, but in the time of Richard II , the bed was omitted by the Lords kindness. Also every woman that had a bastard paid 2 shillings 8 pence fine, with the exception of widows. The tenants were neither allowed to plant or to fell timber. The copyhold of the Manor descended to the youngest son. John left issue one son Edward. (Blomefield) [3]


No wife or marriage is recorded for John by ASC . This is probably in consequence of John's Will being unavailable to him. John's presumed Will mentions a wife, Anne.


The presumed Will mentions one son, Edward, and two daughters, Anne and Mary. Edward alone is noted by ASC (on unstated grounds) but not by Suckling .


Unknown, but clearly after 1717 (see Will ). It would help if his Grant of Probate became readable.


ASC does not appear to have located John's will. This likely explains why his details are sketchy. Because ASC died in 1974, it is conceivable that he neglected to google the following reference at the Norfolk Records Office : BRA 328/30/13, 113X6, title: John Clarke, gent, of Beccles. This is a will written on . The bulk of it is, for the date, more readable than most. [4] It even has lavish punctuation (by the standards of old Wills, anyway).

In the name of God Amen I, John Clarke of Beccles in the County of Suffolk Gent being in perfect sound mind and memory Blessed be God for the same Doe make this my Last Will. First my mind and will is that Anne my Dear Wife shall receive and take the Rents Issues and Profits of all and singular my freehold Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments in Beccles, Ingate, [5] Larling , Rowdham , Eccles and Raveningham and every of them for and during the term of her natural life and have full power for her to sell or dispose of any part of my Sd Estates for and towards the paymt of my just Debts and the maintenance of herself and my children and from and after her decease I give unto Edward Clarke my son All such Estate or Estates as shall then Remain unsold to him and his heirs forever, upon condition he pays to Anne Clarke and Mary Clarke his sisters Three hundred pounds [6] each at their respective ages of twenty one years, And Desirs Mr Thomas Stubbs and Mr Will. Bendy [7] to be supervisors of this my Will, Also all my goods Chattels and personall Estate whatsoever and wheresoever. I give unto my said Wife to be Disposed of as she shall see convenient and make her sole Executrix to this my Will, and have this set my hand and seal [8] accordingly.

John Clarke.

Signed sealed published and declared by the Testator to be his last Will and testamt in the presence of us (after interlining the word freehold) [9] Jno. Hanner, [10] the marke of Amos Strowger, [11] Robert Chinnery.

Unfortunately, the attachment at the bottom of the Testament is a different story. It is a Grant of Probate, written in extremely cramped Latin on parchment, and is in poor condition (mildew?). Not even professional eyes can retrieve a complete date.