John Clarke Jnr was the youngest child and long-awaited only son of Squire Clark (or Clerk) and his wife Mary. With five older sisters, the eldest 13 at the time of his birth, he must have been a spoilt child! His father was a woolcomber in one of the handful of worsted mills that existed in Bradford at the time of John’s birth, and John would also find employment in the growing wool industry.
When he married in 1836, he was a “cloth miller”. He was probably still working in Bradford, though the marriage record gives both his parish and his wife Elizabeth’s as Leeds. Elizabeth was from a prominent non-conformist family in Morley near Leeds. Perhaps they chose to marry in Leeds parish church as a geographical, if not spiritual, compromise.
The Clarks moved to Horsforth, situated between Leeds and Bradford, and took up residence at New Road Side. In the 1841 census, John is described as a “clothier” and in 1851 as a “wool carder”. This was a time of transition and development for the wool industry: these occupations could have been undertaken at home or in a mill building.
In 1851 John and his wife had four children: our ancestor Joseph was eight years old. Things changed in the next ten years. In 1861 Elizabeth has died and there are only two children at home, Martha and Joe, now 18 and working as a weaver. Sarah would have left home by now – she would be twenty-four – but you would expect to find the younger children. Maybe, hopefully, they were just away from home on census night.
By 1871, Joe is the head of household at the house in New Road Side, Horsforth. I think we must assume that John has died in the interim, though I can find no record of his burial.
Baptised on 19 September 1813 in Bradford, Yorkshire
Married Elizabeth Ellis on 13 March 1836
No record of burial found