Charles Clarke was born in Toft Monks on the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk. The River Waveney meanders through marshes from Bungay to its junction with the Yare just north of Toft Monks. Our ancestors in this part of the world were predominantly agricultural workers or they made a living from the river. Charles would have been no exception.
He married for the first time when he was about the age of twenty-five and had three children with his wife Elizabeth. Sadly their last child, also Elizabeth, died in her infancy and her mother was buried just a few months later in February 1700.
Charles was left with two children: Mary aged nine and Charles aged six. He may have been able to keep them with him or perhaps left them in the care of their grandparents. We next find Charles four years later in 1704. He was at Hales, just 6 km away from Toft Monks, and there he was married to Sarah Minster.
Sarah was also widowed and had recently lost her youngest child Judith. At the time of her marriage to Charles her surviving children were eight, five and two years old. She and Charles had two children together, our ancestor Margaret in 1705 and another Elizabeth in 1707.
In 1710 tragedy came to the Clarkes once more as Sarah herself died. There is some (scant) evidence that Charles married in that year for the third time. Understandably, as he was left responsible for seven children between three and sixteen years of age.
I have found no further records of Charles Clarke. By the age of 45 he had known much loss and sadness, so let’s hope he went on to find happiness in later life. Maybe he lived to see our ancestor Margaret marry and start her own family.
Father of Margaret Clark and son of Gregory and Anne Clarke
Baptised on 9 September 1665 at Toft Monks, Norfolk
Married Sarah Minster, widow, on 2 December 1704
No record of death found