individual schemes existing at the time, approximately two
thousand two hundred immigrants came to Natal from England
during the period 1849 to 1852.1 John Clark was, of course,
among them. By 1852, however, emigration from the British Isles
to Natal had virtually come to an end. After 1857 emigration
was resumed on a new basis.2 Funds were then voted by the new
legislative council of Natal to assist emigration of persons
who were nominated for a passage by relatives or friends already
in Natal. Over the period 1858 to 1864 nearly 1,500 immigrants
reached Natal under this scheme.
Among those who took advantage
of this new immigration scheme was the family of William
Clark - later of Clark Road, Durban - which arrived in Durban
on January 10, 1863. They were sponsored by William Clark
of Durban, son of John Clark of York, Natal - and an as yet
Clark" of London. As we shall see, William's family
only managed to get to Natal on their second attempt. On
the first attempt the family was shipwrecked off the Yorkshire
coast. It was not until about eight months later that they
left on what turned out to be the journey which eventually
brought the family to Natal in 1863.
William Clark was born
on July 6,1822. According to his gravestone in Durban's West Street Cemetery he was born in Bradford, Yorkshire. But the 1861 Census reflects his birthplace as Osmotherley, Yorkshire, which seems more liklely to be correct given where his patents were apparently living at the time of his birth.
William was the fourth
son of Leonard and Sarah Clark of Sutton Howgrave, Yorkshire.
William married Jane Fenwick, who was born on March 21, 1823.
The couple had six children, namely George, Ann Jane, William,
Joseph, Robert and John Thomas ("Jack").
and Jane had been living in Osmotherley, on the outskirts
of what is now the North York Moors National Park, when they
made their first abortive attempt - in 1862 - to get to Natal.
Prior to moving to Osmotherley the William Clark family had
lived in Melmerby, near Ripon. It was in that village that
George was born in 1847, Ann in 1852, and William in 1854.
In 1855 the family moved to Osmotherley, where Joseph was
born in 1857, and Robert in 1859.3 According to Ann Clark,
her father "at that time was a wheelwright and joiner
... [and] he and his family remained at Osmotherly for six
years until he received a communication from his brother,
Mr. John Clark, who ... sent emigration papers... ." It
is, therefore, the quaint and pretty village of Osmotherley
which subsequent generations of Clarks should properly regard
as their Yorkshire "roots".
On the Clark family's
first attempt to get to Natal, they set sail from Middlesborough,
Northern Yorkshire (on the River Tee). They sailed on a small
coastal boat, the "Onward", for London, from where
they intended to sail to Natal on the vessel "Lady of
the Lake".4 The "Onward" was, however, wrecked
within twenty-four hours of leaving port, at Flamborough
Head off the Yorkshire coast. In an interview published in
the Weekend Advertiser on April 16, 1932, William Clark Jr.
(son of William and Jane) described the circumstances surrounding
the sinking of the Onward as follows:
At 6 o'clock one morning
in March 1861, the passengers of the vessel "Onward",
bound for London from Middlesborough, Yorkshire, were ordered
on deck. Heavy seas had caused the cargo of railway metals
to shift to one side, and the ship began to take in water
at a dangerous list off Flamborough Head. On that ship were
Mr. William Clark, now of 200 Manning Road, Durban, with
his parents and two young brothers and an elder sister. As
the boat was rapidly filling there was no time to get dressed
and the passengers took to the boats as quickly as possible.
Mr. Clark was six years old at the time, but he still vividly
remembers seeing his father sitting on the tilted, high side
deck of the ship holding on to the bulwarks with his younger
brother (Joseph) pinned between his legs. Lashed to the deck
nearby was a box on which young Clark and his sister were
sitting; she had her arms clasped around his waist and their
father had hold of his hands. The decks were continually
awash with high seas and as Mrs. Clark, clasping her baby
boy (Robert), made an effort to reach a lifeboat, a wave
carried her to the side where she was saved by one of the
crew from being washed overboard. She had had a presentiment
that the boat would sink and had almost to be forced on board.
The same wave had torn the box from its lashings, but before
the next deluge the Clark family had managed to scramble
on to one of the boats. Ten minutes later the Onward turned
turtle and sank. The lifeboats were tossed about for two
hours in the rough sea. It was raining, snowing and blowing
and the passengers were without coats or caps. The Clarks
were eventually picked up by a fishing smack and landed at
Grimsby lighthouse. They had been without food for forty-eight
hours. At Grimsby they each received a meat pie; and were
then marched to an outfitter and clothed.
Although he was
apparently a year out on the date, the accuracy of William's
account of the sinking of the "Onward" is corroborated
by the following passage in "Shipwrecks of the Yorkshire
A second screw steamer came to grief off
Flamborough Head the following year, as a result of heavy
seas. The Onward of Middlesborough left the Tees at 2.30
a.m. on 20 March 1862 with 17 passengers and a general cargo
on her weekly voyage to London. A strong gale was blowing,
the seas were heavy and showers of hail and snow made conditions
even more unpleasant. At 8.30 p.m. the gale increased and
a heavy sea struck the ship, knocking her onto her beam ends.
The cargo broke adrift in the hold, the crew being ordered
below to try and secure it. All canvas was taken in and the
engine speed decreased. About 11.30 p.m. one of the bunker
lids was carried away by the sea, and water poured into the
engine room. The pumps would not function as they were choked
up with small coals which had washed into the bilges, so
the crew were ordered to bail. Shortly after midnight the
fires were quenched and the engine stopped. The sails were
re-set in an effort to keep the vessel moving towards land,
and the bailing continued until 4 a.m. The water was gaining
on them all the time, but efforts continued right to the
last. Finally, at 5.30 a.m., the three boats were lowered
and the passengers and crew abandoned ship. Ten minutes later
the Onward went down, stem first, some fourteen miles east
of Flamborough Head. At 8 a.m. the passengers and crew were
picked up by the London schooner Petrel, which landed them,
shivering and exhausted, at Grimsby.
The family lost all of their possessions when the Onward
went down. After arriving at Grimsby they were given three
days accommodation at an hotel, and train tickets to Bradford,
where William found work. William Jr.'s account of the events
following the sinking is as follows:
Mr. Clark, Senior, had their train fares
paid by the shipping company to Bradford. All his possessions
had been lost with the ship - he was going to have them
insured on arrival in London before beginning the second
stage of the voyage to Durban - and thus the family found
themselves destitute. A parson friend of the family in
Hosmotherley (sic Osmotherley) Yorkshire, heard of their
plight and the parishioners subscribed for their relief.
Mr. Clark journeyed there to receive the money: while he
was away his family were without food, a situation which
reduced Mrs. Clark to tears. Mr. Clark returned the next
day and began work on the railway shops at 18 shillings
a week, remaining there until October 1862.
After the experiences on the Onward, and the financial devastation
which that event caused, it is surprising that the family
did not abandon all thoughts of emigrating. However, after
eight months at Bradford the William Clark family were again
on their way to Natal. The second attempt to get to Natal
was fortunately a little less eventful than the first, but
it was still hardly the kind of experience that a modern
traveller would consider acceptable. The family set out for
London once again, in November 1862, but this time by train
rather than coastal boat. At Gravesend they embarked for
Natal on the three masted barque "Pharamond" -
a 406 ton, 124 foot long vessel.
The Pharamond was built
in Cardiff in 1855. The vessel was a barque of 406 tons,
built of oak and pitch pine, and her dimensions were 124
x 26 x 17 feet. She was originally owned by Jolly & Co.
of London, and her Master was Phillips. In the early part
of 1862 the Pharamond was taken over by Hall & Co. and
her Master was Searle. She was employed on the London to
India route for most of her career, which ended in 1869.6 Unfortunately, no photograph of the Pharamond has been found.
official passenger list of the Pharamond in the Natal Archives
reflects that the cost of the immigration to Natal of William
and his family was underwritten by two sponsors, i.e. his
nephew William - who is described as "Wagon
Maker, Durban" - and the as yet unidentified "W
Clark" in London. Records in the Natal Archives reflect
that William duly paid off his indebtedness at the required
rate of 10 pounds per year, by an initial payment in 1864,
and a number of smaller payments of 4 pounds and 2 pounds
respectively in following years. The ledger sheet reflecting
those payments is reproduced below.
brother, Robert Fenwick, accompanied the Clarks on the Pharamond.
He had also been a fellow passenger on the Onward, and is
quoted as saying that "the night before the family boarded
the Pharamond, [Jane Clark] had a vivid dream in which she
saw the boat go down. But her husband would not listen to
her foolish tears, and refused to change his plans".7 William Clark Jr., in the interview referred to earlier,
provided the following account of the voyage to Natal on
Ocean travellers of those days did not know
the taste of bread. Flour was distributed to the passengers,
and Mrs. Clark used to make a large cake and pay the cook
sixpence for baking it. Coming through the Bay of Biscay
all the passengers were battened down for three days on account
of the unusually rough seas which put out the fire in the
cookhouse. Rounding the Cape a heavy gale was encountered,
which blew down two of the masts. Jury masts were substituted
and the Pharamond reached Durban in the first week of January
1863, after a voyage of seventy days from London.
was drawing sixteen feet of water, and as it could not enter
port the passengers were transferred to small cargo boats
and brought to the Point. It was a Sunday and there was no
conveyance from the Point: the Clark family had to walk through
the hot sand to the town, young William Clark fainting on
The Natal Mercury of January 13, 1863 reported
the arrival - on Saturday January 10 - of the Pharamond and
its passengers, noting the Clarks under the category of "government
immigrants". The passengers on the Pharamond were classified
under three categories, namely "cabin", "steerage" and "government
immigrants". Because they apparently did not disembark
until the Sunday, it seems that the Clarks were not amongst
the passengers who were fortunate enough to make use of the
recently opened Point rail service - as those passengers
who disembarked on the Saturday were. One of the penalties,
no doubt, of being the lowest class of passenger! According
to a report in the same issue of the Natal Mercury:
Pharamond all but anticipated the mail, and arrived simultaneously
with it. She only left Derl two days earlier, and has made
the first rate passage of 69 days from the downs. A list
of 130 passengers by her appears in our shipping column.
Many of them were landed immediately on the vessel's arrival,
on Saturday afternoon, and the scene at the Point represented
the lively aspect usually presented on these occasions. A
special train brought to town these new arrivals, to whom,
as is our wont, we offer a hearty welcome, and the hope that
this new year may prove specially happy to them in their
new home. The rest have been brought ashore since.
William and Jane Clark early
William and Jane later years
That the new arrivals on the Pharamond were not universally happy with the reception which they received appears from a letter written to The Natal Mercury, which appeared on January 27,1863. It is written under the nom de plume "A Passenger on the Pharamond", and appears under the heading "How government officials receive immigrants". The letter reads:
Dear Sir - My addressing you at present is what I feel bound to do as a duty I owe, not only to my fellow passengers and myself, but to everyone interested in to the welfare and prosperity of this colony. I believe that there is a noble field here for the employment of English capital, but whether the inducements held out in England to all classes of immigrants to proceed to this colony are such as they find to be true and fully carried out after their arrival is a question that I am not at present prepared to enter upon. But it is almost superfluous to say that this colony requires a very large influx of labour and capital. Such being the case, most reasonable beings would naturally suppose that any immigrants who did come out would on their landing be welcomed by all especially by those who are indebted for their positions, and their bread, to the industry and hard uphill work of other immigrants, who have moulded the place into the position as a British colony it now occupies. It would seem however that to treat people here on their arrival with even common courtesy would be on the part of Her Majesty's officials infra dig, but to bully, push them about and worry them is the dignified and respectable way for the officials and gentlemen to show their glorious authority. At the least British people would expect decency and civility on the part of colonial officials on their landing. Women and children are generally sea sick on the greater part of the voyage, and all passengers are more or less weary after a long sea voyage. Some are altogether strangers in a new country, without friends or relatives to greet them. Surely then a reception more calculated to quiet their anxieties and raise their spirits would be more conducive to the interests of the colony, more becoming the part of a civilized community, and not derogatory to the dignity of anyone. Then, again, I would draw public attention to the shameful way in which the luggage is tumbled about, and of course frequently damaged and destroyed; and also to the serious inconvenience arising to immigrants from its long detention in the hands of officials and others. This is a serious matter indeed to those who have only a few pounds in their pocket on their arrival, and which is the case with most. Their small means are nearly if not altogether spent by the time they are otherwise ready to leave for the country. The present is a time the emmigration from England to America, which a short time back was in its accustomed vigour, has now almost, if not altogether ceased, on account of the war in that country. Emmigration is consequently looking to other channels. We should therefore feel all deeply interested in seeing that this colony bears a good name, it being needless to say that the prosperity of each one individually is involved in it. I trust Sir that the subject of this letter will attract the notice of the inhabitants and that they will call on their representatives to take such steps as may ultimately lead to a discontinuance of the annoyance immigrants are at present subjected to on their arrival.
A PASSENGER ON THE "PHARAMOND".
NB By immigrants I mean all classes of passengers.
The passengers on the Pharamond were apparently subjected
to delays before the remainder of their belongings were landed,
because the vessel was still outside Durban Bay, in the roadstead
off the "Back Beach", on February 10, 1863.9 The
shipping columns of The Natal Mercury reflect that the Pharamond
eventually sailed for Bombay on February 13, 1863. Presumably,
therefore, it was able to cross the bar between the 10th
and 13th of February, leaving immediately thereafter on its
onward trip to India. The Mercury also reported, in its edition
of January 16, 1863, that "the Pharamond's passengers
are, we hear, with very few exceptions, provided with occupation.
This somewhat belies the impression so industriously circulated
by some parties that Natal is a place to be avoided. The
fact is, men of the right stamp have no fear of their future,
if only they look ahead sufficiently."
On their arrival
the family stayed in the town of Durban for a year, and then
moved to a wattle and daub house owned by the brother of
the famous Dick King.10 William Clark Jr. states that the
house had a sandy floor, which caused the chairs to sink
into the soil in all angles!
On William's arrival in Durban he started working for his nephew - and sponsor - William (son of John Clark of York).11 William (the nephew!) had established a wagon building business in Pine Terrace - now known as Pine Street. One of William Clark Senior's fellow employees at the time was Samuel Crookes, who left the employ of William Clark (the nephew!) in 1865, to set up business at Renishaw on the South Coast. He subsequently turned his attention to sugar farming, and was the founder of Crookes Brothers Limited.12
William and Jane acquired title to a ten acre piece of land on the southwestern side of what is now Clark Road, and which extended from Brand Road to Bulwer Road. This lot incorporated all of the properties which adjoin the present York Avenue. In 1865 William built his house at the corner of Clark and Brand Roads, and he lived there until his death on May 26, 1903. The house was set well back from Clark Road, and actually faced Brand Road. This residence features in family photographs which have been preserved, including the family group and the photograph of William and Jane Clark which appear in this booklet. Subsequently William's son Robert built his own residence on this same lot - but closer to the corner of Clark and Brand Roads. At the time of writing Robert's original building still stands - right on the corner. It is now the offices of D. Smillie and Company.
Clark Road Area of Original
Clark Settlement (Circa 1930)
William's family set up a virtual "Clark Colony" along
Clark Road. At one time or another William and his descendants
owned all of the land to the south-west of Clark Road, between
Clark Grove and Bulwer Road: George on Bulwer Road and along
York Avenue; Joseph and Jack between Brand Road and Clark
Grove; and Robert on the Brand Road corner. According to
Russell's "History of Old Durban" and Mclntyre's "Origins
of Durban Street Names", both Clark Road and Clark Grove
were amongst the roads above Umbilo Road which "were
named after the original resident tenants".13 However
McIntyre wrongly states that the person after whom the road
and grove were named was "George Clark", who "came
to Durban in 1849 under the Byrne immigration scheme".14 The
date and method of immigration may have been confused by
McIntyre with the arrival of John Clark - who carne to Natal
as a Byrne Settler on the vessel "Lady Bruce" -
but in May 1850.15 However, John Clark never lived anywhere
near Clark Road. In any event, the area into which Clark
Road falls was not opened up for occupation until 1856 or
1857,16 by which time John had left Durban for York, Natal.
Moreover, John Clark's obituary confirms that Clark Road
was named after his brother William.17 There can, therefore,
be no doubt that it is William Clark senior - and not his
brother John, or anyone else - who was honoured by the naming
of Clark Road and Clark Grove.
The Clark family was also involved in the naming of York Avenue. This lane - which formed part of William's original ten acres - was established on land donated by "two sons" of William after he had acquired freehold title to the land.18" The identities of those two sons is uncertain, but one was undoubtedly George, who owned many of the properties on both sides of York Avenue. The other may have been William, who by 1890 had moved from the "Clark Colony" on Clark Road and built his home at 200 Manning Road.19
Victor Clark, who lived in his father Robert's home adjoining that of William Clark senior, tells that as a young boy he used to incur his grandfather William's wrath by pinching his fruit - apparently William maintained a tolerable orchard. Victor well remembered William senior as an old man who walked with a stick, because of a leg injury sustained in an accident at work, in which his knee was struck by an axe. Aside from having Clark Road named after him, the only other apparent memorial to William senior is the firm of Clark & Kent, of which he may have been one of the founders: a document in the Killie Campbell Museum (apparently submitted by May Eales, a grand-daughter), states that "he spent a number of years wagon and coach building in the firm of Clark & Kent". We know that William junior was for a time a principal of that firm, and he may therefore have followed his father into the business.20
One cannot but admire the tenacity of William and Jane Clark,
in persisting with their plans to emigrate to Natal, after
the nearly tragic sinking of the "Onward", and
the consequent loss of all of their worldly goods. This is
especially so when one considers that at the time of the
sinking of the Onward the William Clark's youngest child,
Robert, was only two years old. It seems that William and
Jane were made of pretty stern stuff - but for which characteristic
many Clarks in Durban and elsewhere might to this day still
be living in the picturesque villages of Northern Yorkshire!
1 Alan F. Hattersley, The Natalians, at p. 61 (Shuter & Shooter 1940)
2 Alan F. Hattersley, The
British Settlement of Natal, at p. 222-3 (Cambridge
University Press 1950)
3 The Natal Mercury, Saturday May 28, 1932: article on Ann Jane Wade (nee Clark) entitled "EarlyRomance and Adventure - Old Colonist's 80th Birthday".
4 The Natal Mercury, Saturday, May28, 1932, supra; Week-End Advertiser, Saturday, April 16,1932; Article on William Clark entitled "It Took Seventy Days From England To Durban".
5 Godfrey A. and Lassey P.J, Shipwrecks of the Yorkshire Coast, at p. 81 (Dalesman Books, 1976).
6 Extract from a letter to Stuart Clark, dated October 12, 1983, from the National Maritime Museum,London.
7 Unidentified newspaper cutting (probably The Natal Mercury) dated Tuesday, July 7, 1931, concerning Robert Fenwick, entitled "Old Natal Colonist Turns 94".
8 See also Joseph Clark's account of the arrival in Durban, in Chapter 6, and the news report of Robert Fenwick's death in the Natal Mercury of October 7, 1931.
9 The Natal Mercury, February
10 Week End Advertiser, supra. It was Dick King, of course, who rode from Durban to Grahamstown in 1842 to seek relief when the Voortrekkers under Commandant General Pretorius beseiged Captain T. C. Smith's British force at Congella. See, e.g. Eric Goetzsche, Father of a City, the biography of George Christopher Cato, chapter 2.
11 Week End Advertiser, supra.
12 Robert F. Osborn, Valiant
Harvest: The Founding of the South African Sugar Industry
1848 - 1926, p.319 (South African Sugar Association,1964);
Hocking Renishaw: The Story of the Crookes Brothers pp.
50 -51 and 51 – 59 (Hollards 1992).
13 George Russell, History of Old Durban, p 333 (T. W. Griggs & Co. (Pty.) Ltd., 1971 - New Edition); John McIntyre, Origin of Durban Street Names, at p. 3113.
14 An interesting
question raised by McIntyre's claim that Clark Road was
named after "George" Clark is whether William
Clark senior was perhaps also known as "George".
Earlier versions of the writer's draft family tree reflected,
for reasons which the writer has been unable to recollect,
that the correct name of William senior was "William
George". That tree had its origins in discussions
with family members going back to the 1960's. There seems
to be little doubt, however, that the name "George" was
never formally part of William's name. Those of his grandchildren
of whom enquiries were made in the 1980's are not sure
of the true position, but do not discount the possibility
that William may have also been known as George. However,
it also seems possible that Mclntyre's sources merely confused
William with his oldest son George, even though George
was not yet twenty years old when Clark Road was named,
and was two years old at the time of "George" Clark's
supposed emigration in 1849!
15 See Chapter 9.
16 George Russell, History of Old Durban. supra, p 333.
17 See Chapter 9.
18 Note found at Killie Campbell Museum entitled "William Clark" believed to have been submitted byMay Eales, nee Clark, his grand-daughter (daughter of George).
19 Based on the date of an old photograph in the possession of Gwen Sanders, his grand-daughter.
20 See Chapter 5.
Under the Byrne emigration scheme, and v
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