to a son, whose premature death in 1722 was made by Allan Ramsay the occasion for an elegy; (2) Janet, daughter of Sir John Inglis of Cramond, bart., by whom he had issue seven sons and six daughters.
Clerk was the author of:
- 'Money and Trade considered, with a Proposal for supplying the Nation with Money' (published anonymously), Edinburgh, 1705, 4to.
- 'Historical View of the Forms and Powers of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland.' This work was written jointly with Baron Scrope in 1726, but remained in manuscript until 1820, when it was edited by Sir Henry Jardine, writer to the signet and kings remembrancer, and printed for private circulation by the barons of the exchequer.
- 'De Stylis Veterum et diversis Chartarum generibus Dissertatio.' Published in vol. iii. of the 'Supplement to the Thesauri of Grævius and Gronovius,' edited by Joannes Polenus, Venice, 1738, fol. A portion of the dissertation was translated and communicated by Gale to the Royal Society in 1731 (see Philosophical Transactions, xxxvii. 157-63). A letter from Clerk to Gale, dated 6 Nov. 1731, giving an account of certain peculiar effects of thunder on trees, and of the discovery of the horn of a large deer in the heart of an oak, will also be found in 'Philosophical Transactions,' xli. pt. i. 235.
- 'Dissertatio de Monumentis quibusdam Romanis in boreali Magnæ Britanniæ parte detectis anno mdccxxxi,' Edinburgh, 1750, 4to. This Latin tract describes some Roman remains discovered near Middleby in 1731, which the author referred to the age of Julian the Apostate, and pronounced to be the ruins of the temple dedicated to Mercury and Brigantia.
- Some letters on the subject of tumuli and other antiquities which passed between Clerk and Roger Gale in 1725-6 were printed, apparently without Clerk's sanction, by Alexander Gordon, by way of appendix to his 'Itinerarium Septentrionale,' London, 1726, 4to.
These, with other correspondence on a variety of curious and more or less recondite topics extending from 1726 to 1740, are included in 'Reliquiæ Galeanæ' (Nichols, Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, iii. No. ii. pts. ii. and iii.) Clerk also wrote all but the first stanza of the popular Scotch song, 'O, merry may the Maid be that marries the Miller;' and he is the reputed author of some lines addressed to Susanna, daughter of Sir Archibald Kennedy of Culzean, bart., ancestor of the Marquis of Ailsa, afterwards wife of Alexander, ninth earl of Eglinton. The verses may be read in Anderson's 'Scottish Nation.' Allan Ramsay dedicated his 'Gentle Shepherd ' to the same lady.
[Foster's Baronetage; Members of Parliament, Scotland; Acts Parl. Scot. xi. 217, 139 a, App. 162 b; Return of Members of Parliament, ii. 8; Scots Mag. xvii. 461; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, iv, 547, v. 330-335, vi. 13, 79, 129, 139; Cat. Adv. Lib. ii. 268; Cat. Sig. Lib. i. 213; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]
CLERK, JOHN (1728–1812), of Eldin, author of an essay on naval tactics, seventh son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik [q. v.], was born at Penicuik on 10 Dec. 1728, and was educated at the grammar school of Dalkeith. He early entered into business as a merchant in Edinburgh, and continued so engaged till about 1773, with such success that, finding himself then in easy circumstances, he purchased the small property of Eldin in the parish of Lasswade, about six miles from Edinburgh, where he settled down, devoting much of his time to artistic and scientific pursuits. He had always been an accomplished draughtsman, and about 1770 began the practice of etching on copper, in which he attained considerable skill. A collection of his etchings, printed from his private plates in 1786, was presented to the king by the Earl of Buchan, and is now in the British Museum. A more extended series was published by the Bannatyne Club in 1855. A business interest in some collieries seems to have directed his attention to the then infant science of geology; in this pursuit he was encouraged by Dr. James Hutton, whom he frequently accompanied in his excursions and surveys, and assisted with his ready pencil in portraying the features of the country.
But his name is best known in connection with the 'Essay on Naval Tactics' and the controversy which arose out of it. He had always, he tells us in the preface, taken a great interest in naval affairs, an interest strengthened by the fact of his having many near kinsmen in the navy; and, meditating on the unsatisfactory results of several battles at sea, he was led to the conception of certain manoeuvres which would, he believed, lead to breaking the enemy's line, to overwhelming part of it, and compelling the rest either to close action or ignominious flight. These proposals were handed about in manuscript, and fifty copies of some of them were privately printed. Clerk was under the impression that they had been brought to the notice of Sir George Rodney which an exact comparison of dates shows to have been impossible and of Sir Charles Douglas, who categorically denied having ever heard of either Clerk or his proposals till after his return from the West Indies (Sir Howard