Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Clarke, Andrew
CLARKE, Sir ANDREW (1824–1902), lieutenant-general, colonel commandant royal engineers, and colonial official, born at Southsea on 27 July 1824, was eldest son of Lieutenant-colonel Andrew Clarke, K.H. (1793–1847), 46th South Devonshire regiment, governor of Western Australia, by his wife Frances, widow of the Rev. Edward Jackson, and daughter of Philip Lardner of Devonshire. Young Clarke was educated at the King's School, Canterbury, at Portora School, Enniskillen, and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He left Woolwich at the head of his batch and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the royal engineers on 19 June 1844.
After professional instruction at Chatham, he was employed at Fermoy during the worst period of the Irish famine. Promoted lieutenant on 1 April 1846, he was despatched at his own wish to Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania, next year. Making fast friends on the way out with the newly appointed governor, Sir William Denison [q. v.], who travelled in the same ship, Clarke spent a year and a half in pioneering work in the colony with the aid of convict labour. Clarke was transferred to New Zealand in September 1848, to help in making the road from Keri-Keri to Okaihou. He was also sent on a mission to the Maori chiefs at Heki and the Bay of Islands with a view to reconciling them to British rule, and on his advice the proposed Church of England (Canterbury) settlement, which was at first designed for the Bay of Islands, was formed instead at Port Cooper on Middle Island, where natives were fewer. At the end of August Clarke returned to Van Diemen's Land to become private secretary to Sir William Denison, the governor. In 1851 he took his seat on the new legislative council, and was put in charge of some government measures.
In May 1853 Clarke moved to Melbourne to become surveyor-general of Victoria, with a seat on the legislative council. Promoted second captain on 17 Feb. 1854, he drafted the bill for a new constitution for the colony, on a representative basis. This was carried in the council early in 1854. At the same time he took a prominent part in organising the Melbourne Exhibition of 1854, and in founding the Royal Philosophical Society of Victoria, of which he was the first president. In the autumn he carried a useful bill (known as Clarke's Act) to enable the inhabitants of any locality, not less than a hundred in number and not spread over a greater area than thirty-six square miles, to institute automatically a municipality for their district with full municipal powers. The new constitution for Victoria, which was proclaimed in November 1855, relieved Clarke of his appointments on the old terms and provided him with a pension of 800l. a year in case he returned to Europe. Remaining in the colony, Clarke stood and was returned for the constituency of South Melbourne, and entered the cabinet of Mr. Haines as surveyor-general and commissioner of lands. In these capacities he was associated with the inauguration of railways in the colony, starting with 185 miles of trunk road in 1857. It was soon arranged that Clarke as head of the land department, with Captain Charles Pasley [q. v.], the chief of the public works department, should become permanent heads of their departments, retiring from the cabinet, but retaining their parliamentary seats. In the session 1857-8 Clarke, always a strong radical, urged universal suffrage in opposition to the premier, and defeated the government. Being refused a dissolution, he declined the governor's invitation to form a new administration.
After promotion to first captain on 19 March 1857, Clarke decided to return to England for military duty. In January 1859 he was accordingly appointed to the command of the royal engineers at Colchester. While there he gave the war office and the government valuable advice on colonial matters. In 1862 he was transferred to the Birmingham command. Towards the end of 1863 he was sent with the local rank of major to the Gold Coast of Africa, where a state of war existed with the King of Ashanti He gave varied assistance, acting temporarily as chief justice. At Lagos, where he suffered seriously from fever, he wrote a valuable report on the Gold Coast. His information proved useful ten years later to Sir Garnet Wolseley's Ashanti punitive expedition, the despatch of which he strongly deprecated.
After serving in London temporarily in 1864 as agent-general of Victoria in place of his former colleague in the Victorian government, Hugh C. E. Childers [q. v. Suppl. I], who now became a lord of the admiralty, Clarke was made in August director of engineering works at the admiralty. He was reappointed for a second term of five years in 1869, when he was awarded the C.B. (civil). In this post he thoroughly proved his efficiency. To meet the needs of the new ironclad fleet and the rapid increase in the size of battleships, he devised large extensions to the docks at Chatham and Portsmouth, and new docks at Queenstown, Keyham, Malta, and Bermuda, at a cost of many millions sterling.
In January 1870 he and the hydrographer of the navy, Captain G. H. Evans, officially visited the new Suez Canal and reported that the carrying capacity of the canal only excluded large ironclads and transports, which with increased width of waterway could readily pass through. Clarke recommended the purchase of the canal by an English company to be formed for the purpose. Promoted regimental lieut.-colonel on 6 July 1867, and full colonel in the army on 6 July 1872, he was created a K.C.M.G. in April 1873.
On leaving the admiralty Clarke became governor of the Straits Settlements. He arrived at Singapore on 4 Nov. 1873, and during his eighteen months' stay there put down piracy, which was rampant on his arrival, made settlements with the native states by which British residents were appointed to advise the rajahs and sultans, placed the secret Chinese societies under effective control, cultivated the friendship of his neighbour the Maharaja of Johore, and visited Chululonkorn, the King of Siam, at his request. His policy made for peace and laid the foundation of the present prosperity and security of the whole peninsula.
On 4 June 1875 Clarke arrived in India, having been appointed member of the council and head of the public works department for the purpose of constructing productive public works, such as railways and irrigation. Famine, frontier wars, and depreciation of silver left no money to spend on public works, and Clarke found little scope for his special work during his five years in India. But he was of service in other directions. On the occasion of the durbar at Delhi for the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India on 1 Jan. 1877, when he was made C.I.E., he in a long letter to Montagu Corry (afterwards Lord Rowton) sagaciously suggested the creation of an imperial senate for India on which the princes and chiefs should sit as well as the great officers of the paramount power. In the same year he succeeded in establishing the useful Indian Defence Committee.
During the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan he did his best to assist the military commanders in the field, although his urgent advocacy of the immediate construction of frontier railroads led to friction with the viceroy (Lord Lytton). In February 1880 Sir Andrew went home on short leave of absence, and was wrecked off Otranto with great peril in the P. & O. steamer Travancore, sailing from Alexandria. He travelled back to India with the newly appointed liberal viceroy, the marquis of Ripon, so as to advise him on current Indian affairs; but his term of office expired soon after they reached Simla, and he was in England again at the end of July.
In June 1882, after serving a year as commandant of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, Clarke was appointed by Mr. Childers, then secretary of state for war, to be inspector-general of fortifications. Being only a colonel, he was given the temporary rank of major-general. The pending Egyptian campaign at once occupied him. He organised a railway corps, showing admirable discretion in the choice of men [see Wallace, William Arthur James, Suppl. II]. For the general work of his office he secured both naval and artillery advisers, and welcomed every proposal of promise. He took up warmly the Brennan torpedo, the dirigible balloon, and even the submarine boat, which at that time found no support at the admiralty. To the defences of coaling stations and commercial harbours, which had been long deferred, he paid close attention, and he also found time to advise the government on many other questions. He sat on Lord Granville's committee, which recommended the permanent neutralisation of the Suez Canal, and on a visit to Egypt on business of military buildings at the end of 1882 he, after re-examining the canal, strongly advocated its widening in preference to a proposed second canal.
In 1884 he was one of the British representatives on the international committee, and was chosen its vice-president. The committee's decision accorded with his views. In 1884, during the difficult warfare with Osman Digna in the Eastern Soudan, Clarke urged the construction of a railway from Suakin to Berber, and subsequently supported the Suakin-Berber route for the relief of Khartoum, in opposition to Lord Wolseley's suggested Nile expedition. In 1885, when it was too late, Clark's advice was taken. He then worked out the engineering details of a railway from Suakin to Berber, but the contract was not carried out owing to the menace of war with Russia and the abandonment of the Soudan. On 6 June 1885 Sir Andrew was made G.C.M.G. In March 1886 he was permitted to act temporarily as agent-general for Victoria. The question of the cession of the New Hebrides to France was under discussion, and he induced the British government to recognise the right of Australia to forbid any such arrangement. Always an ardent liberal politician, Clarke resolved early in 1886 to stand for the representation of Chatham at the next vacancy. His term of active service was expiring in the summer under the age regulation. But on dissolution of parliament in June, after Gladstone's defeat on home rule, Clarke, on 27 July 1886, anticipated by a few weeks the obligatory date of his retirement from the army, and offered himself for Chatham in the liberal interest. He was given the honorary rank of lieutenant-general. Defeated in the parliamentary contest, he experienced the same fate in 1892, and he then abandoned his parliamentary ambitions. He found much to occupy him elsewhere. For acting without pay as consulting engineer in connection with the stability of the dam of the Vyrnwy waterworks, he received in January 1887 the honorary freedom of the city of Liverpool. After visits to Siam and Singapore (December 1887), he was busily engaged as director of Palmers Shipbuilding Company at Jarrow-on-Tyne, of the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, of the Maxim Nordenfelt Gun Company, and of the British North Borneo Company. The last company commemorated his services by naming after him Clarke Province in that country. He was also chairman of the Delhi-Umballa Railway Company.
Once more from 1891 to 1894, save for a few months' interval, and continuously from 1 Jan. 1897 till his death, he served as agent-general for Victoria, occasionally acting also as agent-general for Tasmania. He was of great service to Victoria in 1893, during the financial crisis. In 1899 he was one of the Australian representatives at the International Commercial Congress at Philadelphia. He interested himself in the ‘all red’ line of telegraph which was to connect the scattered parts of the empire without entering foreign territory, and he was one of two Australian representatives on the board of directors of the Pacific Telegraph Cable. In 1900 Clarke took the place of the delegate for Victoria, who was disabled by illness, in the final deliberations with the colonial office over the Australian commonwealth bill. He thus shared in the settlement of Australian federation. On 8 Jan. 1902 he was appointed a colonel commandant of the corps of royal engineers.
Clarke's outlook was wide and his views prescient. Untiring in energy and pertinacious in purpose, he showed distinction in all his varied employments. He died at his residence, 31 Portland Place, on 29 March 1902. On 17 Sept. 1867 he was married at St. George's, Hanover Square, to Mary Margaret, elder daughter of Charles William MacKillop, formerly of the Indian civil service. Lady Clarke died on 8 Nov. 1895, and was buried in the Locksbrook cemetery at Bath. Over her grave Sir Andrew erected a monument designed by E. Onslow Ford, R.A. [q. v. Suppl. II], one of the sculptor's last commissions. Sir Andrew's remains were laid beside those of his wife. His only child, Elinor Mary de Winton, married Captain M. F. Sueter, R.N.
Clarke's portrait by Lowes Dickinson was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1891. A life-size bust in bronze by E. Onslow Ford, R.A., was presented by his brother officers to the royal engineers' mess at Chatham. Another bust, colossal size, by the same artist, was after exhibition at the Melbourne Exhibition placed in the Singapore Chamber of Commerce as a memorial of Clarke's government of the Straits Settlements.
[War Office and Colonial Office Records; R.E. Records; the present writer's Life of Lieut.-general Sir Andrew Clarke, 1905.]