Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clarke, John (1682-1757)

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CLARKE, JOHN, D.D. (1682–1757), dean of Salisbury, was a younger brother of Samuel Clarke, the metaphysician (1675–1729) [q. v.] He was born at Norwich in 1682, his father being Edward Clarke, stuff manufacturer and alderman (M.P. for Norwich 1701), who married Hannah, daughter of Samuel Parmeter. After pursuing grammar studies for six years under Mr. Nobbs, he was admitted a scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, some time between Michaelmas 1699 and Michaelmas 1700. He graduated B.A. in 1703, M.A. in 1707, and had D.D. by royal command in 1717. He was distinguished as a mathematician, and throughout his life resided much at Cambridge. He held a prebend at Norwich, was a royal chaplain, and canon of Canterbury (1721). On 16 March 1728 he was instituted to the deanery of Salisbury. He died at Salisbury on 10 Feb. 1757, and was buried in the cathedral, where a monument was erected to his memory by his daughters. Cole describes him as ‘rather a well-looking, tall, and personable man,’ with a squint, and adds that he ‘had a son, a fellow of Benet College, a very ingenious man and great naturalist, who read lectures in experimental philosophy in his college.’ This son married.

Clarke's first literary work was a translation of Grotius, ‘De Veritate,’ &c., ‘The Truth of the Christian Religion,’ 1711, 12mo, which has been very frequently reprinted. His agreement in theology with his elder brother may be inferred from his editing Samuel Clarke's sermons and other works, especially his ‘Exposition of the Church Catechism,’ 1730, 8vo. He followed his brother's steps in natural science. Samuel Clarke had translated into Latin, with notes, the ‘Traité de Physique’ (1671) of Jacques Rohault; John Clarke published an English translation from his brother's Latin, with additional notes, under the title, ‘Rohault's System of Natural Philosophy’ &c., 2 vols. 8vo. He edited also the second edition, revised and improved, of Humphrey Ditton's ‘An Institution of Fluxions,’ 1726, 8vo. His original works were: 1. ‘An Enquiry into the Cause and Origin of Evil,’ 1720, 2 vols. 8vo (the Boyle lecture for 1719; reproduced in vol. iii. of the abridgement of the Boyle lectures, 1739, 8vo). 2. ‘A Demonstration of some of the principal sections of Sir Isaac Newton's Principles of Natural Philosophy,’ &c., 1730, 8vo. Rose says he was the author of the notes to Wollaston's ‘Religion of Nature’ (1722).

[Description of the Cathedral Church of Salisbury, 1774, p. 115; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), 1784, iii. 595; Norfolk Tour, 1829, ii. 1012; Rose's Biog. Dict. 1857, vi. 337; Cole's MSS. xxxii. 228 (curious advertisement about Clarke in December 1729); extracts from college books, Gonville and Caius, per Rev. J. Venn; information from Rev. A. R. Malden, Salisbury.]

A. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.67
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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ii 7 Clarke, John (1682-1757): omit held a prebend at Norwich