1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clarke, Sir Edward George

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CLARKE, SIR EDWARD GEORGE (1841–  ), English lawyer and politician, son of J. G. Clarke of Moorgate Street, London, was born on the 15th of February 1841. In 1859 he became a writer in the India office, but resigned in the next year, and became a law reporter. He obtained a Tancred law scholarship in 1861, and was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1864. He joined the home circuit, became Q.C. in 1880, and a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in 1882. In November 1877 he was successful in securing the acquittal of Chief-Inspector Clarke from the charge brought against certain Scotland Yard officials of conspiracy to defeat justice, and his reputation was assured by his defence of Patrick Staunton in the Penge murder case (1877), and of Mrs Bartlett against the charge of poisoning her husband (1886). Among other notable cases he was counsel for the plaintiff in the libel action brought by Sir William Gordon-Cumming (1890) against Mr and Mrs Lycett Green and others for slander, charging him with cheating in the game of baccarat (in this case the prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VII., gave evidence), and he appeared for Dr Jameson, Sir John Willoughby and others when they were tried (1896) under the Foreign Enlistment Act. He was knighted in 1886. He was returned as Conservative member for Southwark at a by-election early in 1880, but failed to retain his seat at the general election which followed a month or two later; he found a seat at Plymouth, however, which he retained until 1900. He was solicitor-general in the Conservative administration of 1886–1892, but declined office under the Unionist government of 1895 when the law officers of the crown were debarred from private practice. The most remarkable, perhaps, of his speeches in the House of Commons was his reply to Mr Gladstone on the second reading of the Home Rule Bill in 1893. In 1899 differences which arose between Sir Edward Clarke and his party on the subject of the government’s South African policy led to his resigning his seat. At the general election of 1906 he was returned at the head of the poll for the city of London, but he offended a large section of his constituents by a speech against tariff reform in the House of Commons on the 12th of March, and shortly afterwards he resigned his seat on grounds of health. He published a Treatise on the Law of Extradition (4th ed., 1903), and also three volumes of his political and forensic speeches.