Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 03, 2021
Webpage updated: March 03, 2021

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JOSIAH CLARK (1838-1906)

Josiah Clark was born in Tavistock, Devon, in 1838 to Mr Thomas Clark, a gardener, and his wife, Mrs Mary Clark.

From a very crowded address in Exeter Street, Tavistock, in the 1841 census they had moved by March 30th 1851 to "South Freezaber", Buckland Monachorum, where Mr Clark was assisted by his eldest son, Thomas Clark, and young Josiah Clark, then barely twelve years of age.  Whether Josiah got any schooling, or where he was educated, is not recorded but his later achievements suggest he got some from somewhere.

In 1857 Mr Josiah Clark married Miss Mary Austen Barfett at the Ancient Parish Church of Stoke Damerel.  The wedding was followed with a couple of months by the birth of their first child, Josiah Barfett Clark at Wilcove, near Torpoint, Cornwall, in the Saint Germans Registration District.  Was Josiah a gardener at Antony House, perhaps?

However, the census of April 7th 1861 shows Mr Clark and his family living at Blacklands Lodge, Plympton Saint Mary.  Also in the house with him, his wife, and young Josiah Barfett Clark was Mrs Dorcas Barfett, Mary's mother, widowed and now in her sixties.  The Lodge was attached to Blacklands House, then in the occupation of a retired Army officer.

The family continued to move around because their second son, Hedley Richard Clark, was born at Wilcove in Cornwall 1863 but their third son, Sidney Clark, was born in Devonport in 1868.  They had landed in Devonport because Josiah Clark had made an astonishing jump from being a gardener, son of a gardener, to secretary of the Devonport Mechanics' Institute in Duke Street and the 1871 census shows them living on the premises.

It is said that Mr Josiah Clark started his own business in 1876 and certainly in 1878 he was advertising himself as seller of new and second-hand books, stationery and as a bookbinder.  The census of April 3rd 1881, however, still shows him living at the Mechanics' Institute, 33 Duke Street, but as Librarian.  It also shows, curiously, Mr Hedley Richard Clark as a bookseller and a Mr Harry Hunter, originally from Portsmouth, Hampshire, boarding with them as a printer.  Sidney Clark was still at school.  Mr Clark's decision to have a second line of employment transpired to be very sensible because membership of the Institute kept falling and eventually, on Saturday June 4th 1881, the Devonport Mechanics' Institute closed and its building and the collection of books were purchased by Devonport Corporation to form the basis of the new Free Public Library and Museum.

Mr Hedley Richard Clark married Miss Eliza Chandler at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on February 8th 1887.

So by 1889 Mr Josiah Clark and his third son, Mr Sidney Clark, were living at 9 Valletort Place, Valletort Road, Stoke, and running a booksellers and stationers at 16/17 Cumberland Street, Devonport, and a printers at 51 Chapel Street, while eldest son, Mr Josiah Barfett Clark was a stationer at 6 West Street, Tavistock.  In 1891 he was employing 21-years-old Miss Grace Crocker, from Exeter, as a live-in shop assistant.  The business became Messrs Josiah Clark and Son before the end of the century, with Mr Heldey Richard Clark and his family living at number 16 Cumberland Street.

Mr Sidney Clark married Miss Ann Pollock at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on June 19th 1893 but he died on November 3rd 1894 at the young age of just 26 years.  He was buried at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on November 6th 1894.

On July 10th 1906 Mr Josiah Clark passed away at his home, 9 Valletort Place.  He was buried on July 13th at Weston Mill Cemetery.  The business passed into the hands of Mr Hedley Richard Clark (1863-1951).

Mrs Mary Austen Clark died on March 14th 1924 and was buried with her late husband at Weston Mill Cemetery on March 18th 1924.