The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Clarke, Rev. William Branwhite
|←Clarke, William||The Dictionary of Australasian Biography by
Clarke, Rev. William Branwhite
|Clarke, Hon. Sir William John→|
Clarke, Rev. William Branwhite, M.A., F.R.S., was born at East Bergholt, in Suffolk, on June 2nd, 1798, and educated at Dedham Grammar School and at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1821, and M.A. in 1824. He was ordained deacon in 1821, and priest in 1824. In 1822 he published three poems: "Lays of Leisure," "Pompeii," and "The River Derwent," and in 1839 "Recollections of a Visit to Mont Blanc" and several religious poems. Whilst at Cambridge he attended the geological lectures of Professor Sedgwick and Dr. E. Clarke, and visited various parts of England in search of geological information during his vacations. After holding one or two small preferments he emigrated to New South Wales in 1839, partly for his health. He took charge of the King's School at Parramatta, and did clerical duty in that district, and subsequently at Campbell Town. From 1846 to 1870 he was incumbent of St. Thomas's, Willoughby. Mr. Clarke was the author of numerous treatises on scientific, and especially geological, subjects. In 1841 he demonstrated the existence of gold in New South Wales from geological and mineralogical evidences, and verified his contentions by finding specimens in the Macquarie valleys, and near the Vale of Clydd. In 1844 he described the existence of a goldfield in the Bathurst district without any personal exploration, and without any knowledge of Strzelecki's previous discovery, which exactly coincided with his predictions. The then Governor of New South Wales, Sir George Gipps, dreading the effect of exciting the cupidity of the convicts and labourers, requested Mr. Clarke, as he had done the Count previously, to keep his discoveries secret. With this injunction Mr. Clarke was well inclined to comply, as, according to his opinion declared in 1849, gold washing was more suitable for slaves than British freemen. In comparing the geology of Russia with that of Australia, in 1847, Mr. Clarke asserted that New South Wales "would be found wonderfully rich in metals"—a prophecy which has since been amply verified. For his services to science he was in 1876 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and died on June 17th, 1878, at North Shore, Sydney For his geological reports to the Government of New South Wales in 1853 Mr. Clarke was awarded £1000, and, subsequently, £5000 was paid him. The Government of Victoria awarded him £1000 in 1861. In July 1860 the governors of the Australian colonies signed a certificate stating that the discovery of gold was made by Mr. Clarke in 1841. He also aided in developing the coalfields of New South Wales, and in 1877 was awarded the Murchison medal of the Geological Society of London for his services in determining the age of the carboniferous deposits in that colony. His labours also resulted in the discovery of tin. When the Sydney University was founded, he declined a seat in the Senate and the position of Professor of Geology.