Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clark, William (d.1603)

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CLARK, WILLIAM (d. 1603), catholic priest, received his education at the English college, Douay, where he arrived on 6 Aug. 1587 (Records of the English Catholics, i. 216). Two years later he proceeded to the English college at Rome, and he was one of eight priests sent thence to England in April 1592 (ib. 298; Foley, Records, vi. 117). He took an active part in the violent disputes between the secular clergy and the Jesuits consequent on the appointment of Blackwell as archpriest, and he was one of the thirty-three priests who signed the appeal against Blackwell dated from Wisbech Castle, 17 Nov. 1600 (Dodd, Church Hist. ed. Tierney, iii. Append, p. cxliv). An unsuccessful attempt was made to give to the first clause of the breve of Clement VIII, in favour of the appellants (5 Oct. 1602), the appearance of restoring to them faculties which had been recently withdrawn, and at the same time to exclude Clark, Watson, and Bluet from its operation (ib. p. clxxxi). In 1602 he was an inmate of the Clink prison, Southwark. He and William Watson, another of the appellant priests, were induced to join the mysterious plot of Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Cobham [see Brooke, Henry, d. 1619], and others against James I. On being apprehended Clark was committed to the Gatehouse at Westminster, and thence removed to the Tower. He and most of the other prisoners were afterwards conveyed to Winchester under a strong guard, where they were tried and condemned on 15 Nov. 1603. The leaders in the conspiracy were pardoned; but George Brooke [q. v.], Clark, and Watson suffered the punishment of traitors at Winchester on 29 Nov. Sir Dudley Carleton, who was present, says: 'The two priests that led the way to the execution were very bloodily handled.' He adds that Clark 'stood somewhat upon his justification, and thought he had hard measure; but imputed it to his function, and therefore thought his death meritorious, as a kind of martyrdom' (Hardwicke, State Papers, i. 387).

He wrote 'A Replie unto a certain Libell latelie set foorth by Fa. Parsons, in the name of the united Priests, intituled, A Manifestation of the great folly and bad spirit of certaine in England calling themselves Secular Priestes,' 1603, 4to, sine loco.

[Butler's Memoirs of the English Catholics (1822), ii. 81, 82; Records of the English Catholics, i. 225; Dodd's Church History, ii. 387, and Tierney's edition, iii. pp. 62, cxxxiii, clvii, clxxx, vol. iv. p. xlii; Cobbett's State Trials, ii. 62; Foley's Records, i. 28, 29, 35; Gardiner's Hist. of England (1883), i. 109, 138, 139; Gillow's Bibl. Dict. i. 488; Flanagan's Hist. of the Church in England, ii. 273.]

T. C.