Thomas Clarke ?-1672


Notes by A. S. Clarke

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Notes by A. S. Clarke

The following section is taken from the genealogy compiled by Alexander South Clarke during the 1930s.

Thomas Clarke ?–1672 and Anne

Eldest son of Thomas Clarke and Margaret. Married Anne Unknown who survived him, and by whom he had one son John. In 1641, according to Suckling, he bought lands called "Fairweather's" at Henstead for £520 of Thomas Buttolph of Holkham, the Lord's rent which was £1.0.2, and four capons and a hen.

In 1716 a very high composition was paid for the fowls, as appears by the court-books, wherein they are charged at 4/6.

Composition of the Blything hundred
Aldringham Cookley Frostenden
Benacre Cove Hithe Halesworth
Blythborough Cratfield Henstead
Blythford Darshan Hevenningham
Bramfield Dunwich Holton
Buxlow Easton Huntingfield
Chediston Fordley Leiston

This Thomas Clarke appears to have been a man of very considerable means, as we see in the year 1642 he was assessed for land and stock at £1.7.0. This was the third highest assessment in the hundred of Blything which embraced the towns and hamlets at right.

In the spring of 1662 Charles II entreated Parliament to grant him some money, and they granted him and his successors two shillings a year on every hearth in England and Wales. This impost continued through the reigns of Charles II, James II, but was abolished by William III. The returns of this tax are now exceedingly valuable to us, as they represent a fairly complete census of the householders of those times, together with their names and social status so far as can be judged by the size of their houses, which was in those days perhaps a more accurate guide than it would be now! However we find that in the year 1670 Thomas Clarke paid tax on 7 hearths at Henstead, and in 1675 his son John paid on a similar number. Theirs was then the largest house in the village, the next largest – that of George Dowsinge – had six hearths, and altogether there were 22 houses paying tax on 72 hearths.

Thomas Clarke died in 1672 at St Andrews.

At the commencement of the Civil War in the year 1642, Parliament ordained

that the inhabitants of the counties of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge and Hartfordshire should, together with the Isle of Ely and countie of the city of Norwich, should enter into an association with one another for the maintenance and preservation of the peace of the said counties.1

To make this Association – known as the Eastern Counties Association – effective, it was necessary to have money and arms at their disposal, and a collection, more or less voluntary, was immediately commenced. The people gave according to their position and means, some "a musket and a month's paie", another "a musket" some money alone, others pieces of armour or weapons. It is said that practically every village and hamlet in the Counties named contributed something – men, money, arms or horse - to resist the Royalist forces. However, the fact that so many contributed to the Association, which was a Parliamentary force, must not be taken as conclusive evidence that their sympathies were, in every case, against the King. We read that

Lord Gray of Wark, Commander of the Association forces, issued a warrant authorizing entry into the houses of any malignants or OF THOSE THAT REFUSE TO CONTRIBUTE and seize upon horses arms etc.2

Obviously this order in itself must have been a powerful incentive to contribute!

The reader is no doubt wondering by now what all this has to do with these genealogical notes. If he will turn back to the section relating to Henstead, he will find there details of the contribution this village made to the Association funds, and he will see there that Thomas Clarke gave the sum of £1.0.0, half as much as the Parson, Edward Uttinge. Even making full allowance for the very considerable difference in the value of money at that time, it was not a large sum considering he was a man of extensive estates, and we may perhaps surmise that his sympathies were not entirely on the side of the Protector and Parliament.

1 Tanner M.S.S. CCLXXXIV F44.

2 'East Anglia and the Civil War', A. Kingston, page 96.

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Last modified: 2011 March 15th.