Sunday, September 30, 2012

John Clarke of Jamestowne

My 10th great grandfather was John Clarke (1575-1623), a Jamestowne Virginia settler originally from Cambridge, England.

John shows up on the passenger manifest for the 1608 Second Supply ship, which was the eighth ship to arrive in Jamestowne.  He was listed as a "tradesman".

It is believed that Thomas Clarke, who came over on the 1623 ship Anne, just three years after the Mayflower, was son to John.  This is only supported by baptismal records showing that Thomas' father was named John.

My Clarke male family has done the appropriate DNA testing on this line, and as of November 2020, the current Haplogroup Name we've been tagged with is I-PH2591, which has been the official FTDNA Group aligned with this ancestry.  Some other Clarkes have undergone Big Y testing, for deeper analysis, and have emerged with a newly named Haplogroup I-Y51873.  I would assume that if my family did the same testing, they would have the same result, if we were to decide to invest that money.

I paid a visit to Jamestowne in the Fall of 2012, and enjoyed learning of all the amazing archaeological discoveries still being made.  It was truly thrilling to see happy excavators at work.

HAPPY ARCHAEOLOGIST

NEW GRAVES ERECTED WHERE SKELETONS WERE FOUND
ONE COULD VERY LIKELY BE THAT OF JOHN CLARKE.

CONFIRMED SITE OF MARRIAGE OF
POCAHONTAS AND JOHN ROLFE


THE OLD CHURCH

According to many sources, John was captured by the Spanish in 1611 and spent five years in captivity before being traded with the English.

It has been written that either John or Thomas was employed on the Mayflower as a shipmate.  There are differing accounts here, depending on whom you believe.  I have written a separate page on Thomas Clarke, which speaks of what is known and speculated regarding Thomas, and how much has been written crediting Thomas with the shipmate job.

According to The Mayflower and Her Passengers by Caleb H. Johnson (copyright 2006 Xlibris), which is a very fun and informative read, John Clarke is given credit as ship mate, and not Thomas:

The Mayflower's Crew Master Jones and the Mayflower had never been across the Atlantic before. Their stormiest seas were those of the North Sea off Norway in 1609, and their longest voyage was just to Malaga, Spain, and back in 1615. To bring on some experienced hands, two men were hired, John Clarke and Robert Coppin, to be master‘s mates and pilots. Both had been to the New World before. Robert Coppin had been an early investor in the Virginia Company, buying a share of stock for £12 and 10 s; he was named on the Second Virginia Charter of 23 May 1609. He quite possibly was from a Coppin family found in Harwich, the same hometown as Christopher Jones. He appears to have had some experience in whaling and may have spent time in Newfoundland; he had some knowledge of the New England coastline and had been to the region at least once previously. otherwise, very little is known about him. Much more is known about Master‘s Mate John Clark—his adventures in Virginia could fill an entire book. John Clark had been a ship‘s pilot since 1609, but his first experience with the New World came in March 1611, when he left London piloting a three-hundred- ton ship to Jamestown, Virginia. Along with the ship that he was piloting, there were two other ships: one 150 tons and one 90 tons, all under the command of Sir Thomas Dale. In all, the ships brought three hundred men to the Jamestown colony, then in its fourth year. The voyage lasted two and a half months, although they made brief stops in Dominica and on the „island of Nevis“ to the north-northwest before reaching Jamestown. Once in Virginia, John Clark piloted the ships into the mouth of the James River, to Point Comfort—the farthest point up the river that large ships could sail. For many weeks after arriving, he piloted barges back and forth between Point Comfort and the Jamestown fort, unloading the six hundred barrels of flour, fifty barrels of gunpowder, and other supplies that had been brought to the colony, and loading the ships back up with timber and sassafras for the return voyage to England. After living and working in the Jamestown colony for about forty days, John Clark noticed a Spanish ship enter the mouth of the James River. The ship sent out a longboat with about thirteen men to the small English fort at Point Comfort. Three men got out of the longboat—one of which John Clark recognized as an English pilot he had seen in Malaga, Spain, in 1609. The three men informed the English that they were seeking a Spanish ship that had gotten lost on the coast. The English captain at Point Comfort sent for the governor, who came down from Jamestown on a barge to speak with the men. The governor informed them that their ship was not anchored in a safe place in the bay—they should bring it in closer to the fort. The Spanish replied that they did not have a capable pilot to do that. So the governor had the three Spanish men remain on shore and ordered John Clark and a couple others to take the longboat out to the Spanish ship and then pilot the ship into safer harbor. When John Clark arrived at the Spanish ship with the longboat, he informed the ship‘s master, Don Diego de Molina, that he was to pilot the ship into a safer harbor near Point Comfort. But Don Diego was leery of a trap and refused, saying he would not sail in until the Spanish men onshore were returned to his ship. John Clark was taken captive, and tied up for good measure. The next day, still bound, he was carried over the shoulder by one of the Spanish mariners onto the longboat, and with the master of the Spanish ship, they went to speak with the English. Don Diego demanded the return of their three men in exchange for Clark. The English at Point Comfort said they would have to consult with the governor at Jamestown first, before they could make such a decision. But the governor was many hours away. Fearing the English would send out some of their ships to attack, the Spanish, with captive John Clark, fled back to their ship and sailed away. They ended up taking him as their prisoner to the Spanish settlement at Havana, Cuba. John Clark remained in Spanish custody in Havana, where he was interrogated on his knowledge of the English settlements in Virginia, and English plans to colonize the region. After two years, he was transferred to Madrid, where he was again interrogated by Spanish authorities. Finally, in 1616, after having been in Spanish custody for five years, he was freed in a prisoner exchange with England. It was not long before John Clark was back in the piloting business. In 1618, he found himself working for Captain Thomas Jones, an English sometime pirate who happened, in this case, to be taking a load of cattle to Jamestown in his ship the Falcon. Shortly after his return, Clark was hired to be a pilot for the Mayflower’s voyage to America.

According to MayflowerHistory.com, John was the Master's Mate on the Mayflower.


According to FindaGrave, ...
John Clark was the Master's Mate and pilot of the "Mayflower", and accompanied the Pilgrims on many of the exploring parties, piloting the shallop. Clark's Island in Duxbury Bay is named after him, because he miraculously brought the shallop ashore during a strong storm on one of these expeditions. John was given two shares in the Virginia Company for his service. He sailed to Virginia on 10 April 1623 in Daniel Gookin's ship, the "Providence", and died shortly after he arrived.
But on this very page of FindAGrave, there is a picture of the Mayflower commemorative plaque for the First Encounter, and a transcription.  It merely references "Master Mate Clark", so that could be either Thomas or John!


According to Packrat, which carries an online transcription of the 1608 Second Supply ship manifest, he was a tradesman on the 1610 voyage to Jamestowne.  In fact, this site purports to transcribe all the early Pilgrim ship manifests and doesn't list a single Clarke on any of the 1610 ships.

According to The First Republic in America: An Account of the Origin of this Nation, by Alexander Brown, John Clarke was among the men who fell at the Indian Massacre of 1622 in Jamestown, and was pilot of the ship Providence in 1622.  The ship manifest, however, has been transcribed by Packrat to read that William Clarke was the only Clarke on the Providence.  According to a genforum post, this William was John's son, who was the pilot of that ship.  Yet, I see no reference to John having been pilot of this ship, when viewing the transcribed manifest.

A Richard Clarke was one of many of the Mayflower passengers who died the first winter in Plymouth, and left no descendants. I wonder if he was related to either John or Thomas?

**

Below is a well sourced writing I was given by Clark researchers:

John Clarke was hired to be the Master's Mate on the Mayflower by the Virginia Company and the Merchant Adventurers because he had been to the American coast on several prior occasions.

Much of John Clarke's biographical history is known, but his genealogical history is less certain. He is possibly the John Clarke who was baptized in Redriffe (Rotherhithe), Surrey, England on 26 March 1575, and may have been the father of Thomas Clarke, an early Plymouth settler. A baptism for Thomas Clark, son of John Clark of Rotherhithe is found on 8 March 1599/1600 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, Middlesex, England. He may be the John Clarke who married Sibil Farr on 18 April 1610 in Rotherhithe, or the John Clarke who married Mary Morton on 18 February 1598/9 in Stepney, Middlesex--or perhaps he was married twice.

John Clarke had made several trips to Jamestown, Virginia, as well as to New England. Clarke had been in Malaga, Spain in 1609, and in March 1611 sailed from London to Virginia. About June 21, 1611, he was captured at Point Comfort by the crew of a Spanish caravel that had brought Don Diego de Molina to Virginia. He was taken to Havana, where he was interrogated on 23 July 1611. He was then taken to Seville, Spain, and then to Madrid where he was again examined on 18 February 1613. He calls himself 35 years old in his 1611 deposition, and calls himself 40 years old in 1613, giving his residence as London. He was released to the English in 1616, in a prisoner exchange between England and Spain.

John Clarke is mentioned in a letter written by Robert Cushman on 11 June 1620: "We have hired another pilot here, one Mr. Clarke, who went last year to Virginia with a ship of kine." This 1619 trip to Virginia was with Captain Thomas Jones of the Falcon, a some-time pirate.

He was the Master's Mate and pilot of the Mayflower, and accompanied the Pilgrims on many of the exploring parties, piloting the shallop. Clark's Island in Duxbury Bay is named after him, because he miraculously brought the shallop ashore during a strong storm on one of these expeditions.

From Virginia Company Records:

13 February 1621:

Mr Deputy acquainted the Court that one mr Io: Clarke beinge taken from Virginia longe since by a Spanish Shippe that come to discouer that Plantac̃on by whome he was carried to Spayne and there deteyned fower yeares thinkinge to haue made him an instrument to betray that Plantac̃on, That for somuch as he hath since that time donn the Companie good seruice in many voyages to Virginia and of late went into Ireland for transportac̃on of Cattle to Virginia he was an humble Suitor to this Court that he might be admitted a free Brother of the Companie and haue some shares of land bestowed vpon him, wch request the Court taking into considerac̃on haue been pleased first to graunt him his freedome and haue also thought fitt that two shares of land old Aduenture be giuen him as a free guift of the Company wch they haue recom̃ended to the next Quarter Court for confirmac̃on.

10 July 1621:

That mr Swayne vppon receipt of the ffraight of 3d p̱ pound should deliuer the Tobacco belonginge vnto them to mr Iohn De Clark whom by the p̱swasions and recom̃endac̃ons of mr Alderman Iohnson and mr Chamberlyn they did choose to be their ffactor.
mr Swaine to de- liuer ye Tobacco to mr Io: De Clark

They entreated mr Abdy, mr Chamberlyne, mr Essington and mr Bull to meete and consult concerninge the sale of this Tobacco nowe come home and ther vppon to write their letters of advise and direcc̃on to mr Iohn De Clark speedylie to try the markett and to returne them answer how the prizes went, mr Alderman p̱swadinge that the deferr- inge of the sale a little while would cause a good rise in the price.
A Comittee to Con- sult about ye sale of ye Tobacco.

Mr Chamberlyn and mr Bull were entreated to keep accompt of this present returne and to take order for discharge of the ffraight and all other duties and itt was ordered that all such monneys as mr Iohn De Clark should receave vppon Sale of the said Tobacco should be made ouer to mr Abrah: Chamberlin and mr Richard Bull who for ye same are to be accomptable to the Magazine Company. [251]

27 July 1621:

Itt is allso moved that Iohn De Clark shall have order to sell ye Mag- azine Tobacco att 5s flemish that is to say 30 stivers and not vnder butt is to take his best markett for advanceinge the said price as much as he cann.
Io De Clark to sell ye Maga: Tobacco

14 November 1621:

It was ordered by consent of the Aduenturers of the old magazine that mr Abraham Chamberlen shall take vp as much money here as appeareth by the Account of Iohn De Clarke to be due to the old Magazine and remaine in his handℯ and paye the same ouer to mr Richard Bull that a diuident may be made to the Aduenturers.

4 December 1621:

ffor somuch as it was formerly ordered at a Court held the 14th of Nouember last by the consent of the Aduenturers of the old Magazine that mr Abraham Chamberlen should take vp as much money as here as appeared by the Account of Iohn D' Clarke to be due to the old Magazine and remayninge in his handℯ and paye the same ouer to mr Rich: Bull that a Diuident might be made to the Aduenturers before Christmas; It was nowe complaned that the said order was not p̱formed But mr Abrah: Chamb̴len said that he had not as yet Iohn D' Clarkes Account whereby he might knowe what was due vpon the foote thereof but beinge brought vnto him he hath promised that vpon the cominge of the Post from Midleburrough who was nowe expected wthin two dayes if it shall appeare by Iohn D' Clarkℯ letter he hath not already transmitted the money to be paid here, it shall then remaine still in Iohn D' Clarks handℯ and he will forthwith take vp somuch here and paye the same ouer vnto mr Bull accordinge to the former order.

19 December 1621:

Whereas ∥mr∥ Abraham Chamb̴len had formerly promised to take vp so much money here as appeared by the Account of Io: D' Clarke to remaine in his handℯ for the Tobacco sold by him at Midleburrough, fforsomuch as Iohn D' Clarke had aduertized by letter that he had trusted out some p̱t of the Tobacco to be paid at certaine dayes wch were not yet due, mr Chamb̴len therefore moued that the money might be forborne till Iohn De Clarke had receaued it, beinge p̱swaded that §it§ was sure enough, but in the meane time he desired he might not be tied to his former p̳mise least for his good will and paines freely bestowed for the Companie he should ruñ into an inconven- ience. [302]

13 February 1622:

Mr. Deputy acquainted the court, that one Mr. John Clarke beinge taken from Virginia long since by a Spanish ship that came to discover that plantation; that forasmuch as he hath since that time done the companie good service in many voyages to Virginia, and of late went into Ireland for transportation of cattle to Virginia, he was an humble suitor to this court, that he might be admitted a free brother of the companie, and have some shares of land bestowed upon him.

John was given two shares in the Virginia Company for his service. He sailed to Virginia on 10 April 1623 in Daniel Gookin's ship, the Providence, and died shortly after he arrived. 

In June of 2020, I reached out to the Jamestowne Society for more information, and to see if my lineage to John could be verified.  They declined to include me in the Society, stating that there were four John Clarkes at Jamestowne, so it's difficult to know whether my John might be the same who has been catalogued as dying in 1623, shortly after arriving in Jamestowne.  Therefore, NO men named John Clarke have been listed as a valid Jamestowne ancestor.
________________________________________

1. Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, 3d series, 54 (1920):61-77, "John Clark of the Mayflower".

2. American Historical Review 25:448-479, "Spanish Policy toward Virginia, 1606-1612; Jamestown, Ecija, and John Clark of the Mayflower".

3. The American Genealogist 42:201-202, 47:3-16

4. Of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford, written 1630-1654

5. The Genesis of the United States, by Alexander Brown, 1964, pages 854-855.

6. Records of the Virginia Company

21 comments:

  1. Thank you for this information. Greetings from your distant cousin - John is my 10th great-grandfather as well. I am looking forward to looking through the rest of your site.

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  2. He is my 12th great grandfather :)

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    1. mine too :) -ccp, south carolina by way of kentucky

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  3. I acquired recently a book by Jean Ingelow written in 1884 called the birthday book it is filled with names information history of Thomas Clarke it says he came to Plymouth in 1623 on the brig Anne. deacon 40 yrs died 1697. also inside book a photo taken in 1880 of a young girl Elizabeth A, Childs born 1875 died 1890
    filled with priceless history births and deaths follows Thomas Clarke family tree from 1623 into the 1900's, if you have any interest in acquiring this book e-mail me : ez182130@msn.com Ezra

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    1. I would be interested in the book... am sending you an email.

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    2. Hello my Nane is Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto and I am looking into the biography of my american grandmother Margaret Clarke, who was the daughter of Chalres Clarke who owned Clarke Brother's Whisky distilleries in Peoria, Illinois, and was also Mayor of that town in the late 19thC. I was always told that Margaret Clarke's ancestor arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower and now I am finding all this fascinating history here through you. I presume she is a descendant of Thomas Clarke too. I am very interested in acquiring the bpook. My email is marella.chia@gmail.com Thank you very much for your research. Kind regards, all best from Rome, Marella

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    3. PS Margaret Clarke's married name was Margaret Caracciolo di Castagneto. She died in 1955. Was an important figure during the italian anti-fascist resistance movement alongside her husband Filippo.

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    4. A little possible (probable) historical information on Margaret Clarke. She was the daughter of John Clarke, grandson of Thomas Clarke, born is somewhere between 1705 and 1710. she is recorded in the original Clarke genealogy that can be accessed on line at https://archive.org/details/recordsofsomeofd1869clar3/page/14/mode/2up. My grandfather (Scott Lee Clark had an original copy of this book but it was lost in a fire in 1957.

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  4. Thanks for this very thorough record of a very interesting man. I believe I am a descendant of the Thomas Clarke who came to Plymouth on the Anne in 1623. The tradition that he was the actual pilot of the Mayflower seems to have been fabricated later in his life, or immediately after his death by his sons. Several references to it are made by later Clarks in Connecticut. My I2b2, P217+, L39+ Positive haplagroup testing matches very closely to Thomas Clark b. 1500, d. 1551, who may have been John Clarke's grandfather. A close DNA connection is also made to Michael Clarke of Barbados, who's father was Edward Clarke - probably the son of John who is known as a planter of Jamestown, and brother to Thomas. Thomas's sons were whalers at Cape Cod, which strengthens a possible link to John Clarke. I hope my journey doesn't end before I can unravel this tale.

    Terry Clark
    Keene, NH

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    1. Terry, Have you come up with anything new about John Clarke the Mayflower pilot and Thomas Clarke the Plymouth Colony settler?

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  5. You mentioned above that "It is believed that Thomas Clarke, who came over on the 1623 ship Anne, just three years after the Mayflower, was son to John. This is only supported by baptismal records showing that Thomas' father was named John.
    My Clarke male family has done the appropriate DNA testing on this line, and as of June 2018, the current Haplogroup Name we've been tagged with is I-PH2591, which has been the official FTDNA Group aligned with this ancestry."

    I am descended from Thomas Clarke. How safely can I then claim to be also descended from John Clarke? Does this DNA finding clinch the deal, or is it still somewhat speculative to say that Thomas was John's son?

    Thank you!

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    1. According to various 1600s writings, Thomas Clark was the pilot or first mate on the mayflower. This has been argued over for many years. The current narrative is that John Clarke was the actual pilot of the ship, but two different accounts for Thomas exist. The first is that Thomas was the son of John and the second is that he was the brother. There is considerable documentation that he actually was the brother of John. As an aside, Plymouth wasn't the first time these 2 came to our shores. Some ancient accounts put John on a ship visiting Jamestown in 1608 and both of them returning in 1611 with supplies for the colony. John had several adventures and was awarded 2 shares in the colony after that trip. Both of them where on the Mayflower with the pilgrims. Both returned to England but Thomas came back in 1623 to set up shop as a merchant. He had a very colorful life, which is well documented, and when the average lifespan of a man then was about 40 he finally passed at 97 years old. He is buried in a place of honor on top of the hill in the old graveyard behind the Mayflower Societies building in Plymouth. There are many published pictures of his gravestone on the internet. It states he was first mate (or pilot) on the Mayflower but that is claimed to be because his family used a little white lie when the stone was created in about 1700. He is also credited with founding both Harwich and Eastham towns on Cape Cod

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  6. Can anyone source Edward as John's son? I believe there is a good likelihood that the Ancient Farmer Edward, and Edward Clarke who died in Thriplow, are not the same person. I can trace my roots to Michael in Barbados, but I can't source anything earlier. I'm trying to join the Jamestowne Society, but I'm one generation away from proof.

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    1. John's grave memorial has Edward linked as his son, for what it is worth. Might want to check with memorial owner on their source.
      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/51239756/john-clark

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  7. John is my 13 times great grandfather!!

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  8. According to Ancestry.com, John Clarke is my 11th great uncle. His father was William Clark my 11th maternal great grand father. Amazing story of John's lif and times..

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  9. If John Clark the Navigator left England aboard the ship Providence (stories differ on his duties. Some say Sailing Master, some say he was then Ships Captain) in April 1623, he would not arrive until late May or June. That was when various groups of men were venturing out of Jamestown to attack ( counter attack) the Indian Tribes in the area. So he could have died from involvement in that activity, or just died from one of the other 1,000 things that killed folks back then. Edward the Planter, was one of his children and after visiting Virginia Edward went back to the UK and had his Virginia ( and possibly Barbados) properties managed for him. I directly descend from Militia Capt Christopher Clark of Virginia whom is often thought to be descended from John Clark the Navigator. .....Alexander Clark

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    1. My wife, whose Va. Clark family I thought was not related to my New England Clarks, is also descended from Christopher Clark and Micajah Clark of Barbados/Virtginia. Her tree also includes Sally Moorman and Penelope Johnson. The Johnsons would marry into the family years later again and so her maiden name was Johnson. We always believed her Uncle's name, Clark Johnson was just a coincidence. Maybe not. Anyway if Edward is the son of John Clarke, who was killed in 1623 at Jamestown, my sons' uncle could also be their 12th cousin. ha.

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  10. According to various 1600s writings, Thomas Clark was the pilot or first mate on the mayflower. This has been argued over for many years. The current narrative is that John Clarke was the actual pilot of the ship, but two different accounts for Thomas exist. The first is that Thomas was the son of John and the second is that he was the brother. There is considerable documentation that he actually was the brother of John. As an aside, Plymouth wasn't the first time these 2 came to our shores. Some ancient accounts put John on a ship visiting Jamestown in 1608 and both of them returning in 1611 with supplies for the colony. John had several adventures and was awarded 2 shares in the colony after that trip. Both of them where on the Mayflower with the pilgrims. Both returned to England but Thomas came back in 1623 to set up shop as a merchant. He had a very colorful life, which is well documented, and when the average lifespan of a man then was about 40 he finally passed at 97 years old. He is buried in a place of honor on top of the hill in the old graveyard behind the Mayflower Societies building in Plymouth. There are many published pictures of his gravestone on the internet. It states he was first mate (or pilot) on the Mayflower but that is claimed to be because his family used a little white lie when the stone was created in about 1700. He is also credited with founding both Harwich and Eastham towns on Cape Cod

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    1. Additional information on John. He returned to Jamestown in 1623 to claim his shares but died shortly after.

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  11. Terry Clark,Al Clark and Donna. I appreciate your information on John Clark the Mayflower pilot, his son Thomas Clark of Plymouth(arrived 1623) and the descendants of Edward Clark of Virginia. I am descended from Joseph Clark of Braintree who some say could be the grandson of Thomas who lived to be 98. Only recently we have realized that my wife's Virginia Clark's could be related to my New England Clarks thru John Clark the Mayflower pilot. Her family traces themselves to John Clarke, Edward Clark, Michael Clark, Micajah Clark, and Christopher Clark. etc. in Va. and Barbados. Her family is also married into the Moorman family from the Isle of Wight and her maiden name was Johnson. Is seems to me there is a strong connection between many of the New England Clarks and Virginia Clarks which I never knew existed.

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