Ellis Clarke’s Railway Coffee Palace in Ulverstone, Tasmania. Ellis’s son Stephen and his wife Louisa are in the ‘buggy’. Courtesy of Kim O’Brien
Death some 10,500 miles from his native home of Rocklands
Ellis Clarke died in August 1903 at his home at the Railway Coffee Palace in Ulverstone, Tasmania.
He was born in Rockland All Saints, Norfolk, England some ten and a half thousand miles away. Ellis’s parents married in the Church of St James, Great Ellingham – the parish church of his mother Ann Houchin. Hence a connection to Great Ellingham!
Who was Ellis Clarke?
Parish Church of Rockland All Saints
Baptism and Early Life
Ellis was the youngest of five sons of James and Ann Clarke (née Houchin). Born on the 1st June, 1822, Ellis was baptised in the Church of All Saints, Rocklands on the 23rd June.
He spent his early life with his parents in Rocklands. Sadly, his brother Stephen (born in 1814) died at the age of 13 in 1827.
By 1841, 19 year old Ellis is working for farmer Robert Denew at a farm in Shropham Road in Rockland St Andrew.
Four years later, on the 21st February, 1845, Ellis married Caroline Younge [also found as Young and Youngs] in the Parish Church at Watton, the town where they had both been living. Caroline’s father was local shoemaker Robert Younge.
Children in Rockland St Peter
Parish Church of Rockland St Peter
Following the marriage, the couple settled in Rockland St Peter. Just five months after the marriage, Caroline gave birth to their daughter Eliza on the 17th June, 1845. Eliza was baptised in the Parish Church of Rockland St Peter on the 20th July.
The couple’s son Stephen (likely named of Ellis’s late brother) was born three years later on the 13th February, 1848. He too was baptised in Rockland St Peter.
Rockland All Saints
By 1851, Ellis and Caroline with their two young children are in Rockland All Saints.
The census captures the family in Union Lane. Ellis’s brother Robert Clarke and his wife and family are also in Union Lane – possibly next door. Another brother Charles Clarke is with his wife and family in nearby White Hart Street along with their father, 64 year old James Clarke. Ellis’s brother John had moved away to Market Weighton, Yorkshire with his wife and family.
Just weeks after the census was taken, Caroline Clarke gave birth to Elizabeth on the 28th April, 1851. Elizabeth was followed by Benjamin on the 1st January, 1854. Both children were baptised in the Parish Church of Rockland All Saints.
In 1854, Ellis’s brother, Robert Clarke, left Rocklands and, with his wife and children, emigrated to South Australia.
Further in 1855, after spending a period of time in the Plymouth area, his brother Charles and his family also emigrated to South Australia.
With his other brother John settled in Yorkshire, this left Ellis with his wife and family in Rocklands along with his ailing father, James Clarke.
Ellis and Caroline’s daughter Anne was born in Rocklands on the 18th October, 1856, followed by Charles on the 30th March, 1859.
The 1861 census finds 38 year old Ellis Clarke with his 39 year old wife Caroline in Union Lane, Rockland All Saints. With the couple is their children Stephen 13, Elizabeth 9, Benjamin 7, Ann 4 and Charles 2. Ellis’s father, James (now 75 and bedridden) is living with Ellis and Caroline and their children.
Postcard of Watton High Street .Postmarked 1908
Ellis’s eldest daughter, 16 year old Eliza, is a house servant at the home of her maternal grandparents, Robert and Mary Younge in Middle Street, Watton.
By the census of 1871 Ellis’s father has died, and Ellis and Caroline are in Green Lane, Rockland All Saints along with four of their children – Benjamin 17, Ann 14, Charles 12 and George 8. Ellis and Benjamin are both working as agricultural labourers.
Ten years later, Ellis has secured a position as a farm steward in Boughton, which is a village some 7 miles from Downham Market. Ellis worked for the Colman family who were associated with the manufacture of mustard in Norfolk.
The 1881 census finds 57 year old farm steward Ellis Clarke with his 57 year old wife Caroline and children Elizabeth 29, Benjamin 27, Anne 24 and 18 year old George in Boughton. Elizabeth and Anne are working as domestic servants, Benjamin as a sawyer and George as a labourer.
Ellis’s two sons, Stephen and Charles are together in Yorkshire. The 1881 census finds 33 year old Stephen Clarke with his wife Louisa and their children along with Stephen’s 22 year old brother Charles in Holdforth Road, Wortley in Bramley. Stephen and Charles are working as railway draymen.
Married in 1866, Ellis’s 35 year old daughter is in Leeds with her husband, Great Ellingham born Thomas Thompson (aka Thomas Thompson Reeder) and their children.
Emigration following the death of wife Caroline
Ellis’ son Benjamin may well have died at the beginning of 1883. The death of a 29 year old Benjamin Clarke was registered in the Leeds District between January and March of that year.
Around four years later, Ellis’s wife of some 42 years, Caroline Clarke, died at 63 in 1887.
Prior to the census of 1891 (and not long before Ellis Clarke turned 70 years of age), Ellis together with his daughter, Elizabeth, emigrated to Tasmania.
Either earlier or at a similar time, Ellis’s son Stephen and his wife and family also emigrated to Tasmania. It seems that Stephen Clarke visited his uncle Robert in South Australia prior to making the decision to uproot and emigrate.
Purchase of The Railway Coffee Palace
Not long after Ellis and Elizabeth arrived in Tasmania, Ellis purchased the Railway Coffee Palace in Ulverstone.
Elizabeth went on to marry George Yaxley and lived in Penguin, where her brother, Stephen Clarke, also resided.
Thought to be Elizabeth Clarke born Rockland All Saints 28th April 1851. Daughter of Ellis & Caroline Clarke née Younge. Courtesy of Kim O’Brien
Ellis Clarke 1822-1903. Son of James and Ann Clarke née Houchin. Courtesy of Kim O’Brien
Ellis Clarke died on the 10th August 1903 at the Railway Coffee Palace. In the newspaper account mentioning Ellis’s death, Ellis is described as being of ‘a modest and retiring disposition, and was very much regarded for his intergrity and honesty for purpose’.
Ellis & Caroline Clarke’s Children
The South Riana home in Tasmania of Stephen & Louisa Clarke. Stephen Clarke is standing in the centre. Children (left to right) Albert & Susan sitting on horse, Emily side-saddle on horse, Stephen in centre, Walter on the right in white shirt. Courtesy of Kim O’Brien
Stephen, the eldest son of Ellis and Caroline Clarke, born in Rockland St Peter in 1848, remained with his wife Louisa and family in Tasmania. After marrying George Yaxley, Elizabeth also remained in Tasmania.
Anne, Charles and George (all born in Rockland All Saints 1856, 1859 and 1862 respectively), emigrated to the United States of America, although it is thought that Anne returned to England.
Ellis and Caroline’s eldest daugher, Eliza, remained in England with her husband Thomas Thompson Reeder.
I was delighted to be contacted by one of the many descendants of James and Ann Clarke who extend across the world. The shared information and photographs is very much appreciated.
Trove Website, National Library of Australia, TROVE, Newspaper, Examiner, Saturday 15th August 1903 pg 6 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/35559321?searchTerm=Ellis%20Clarke Accessed 30th September 2021
GRO Index https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro Also available via FreeBMDwebsite https://www.freebmd.org.uk/
Registration of Death of Caroline Clarke https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=P6g2np5ymVxFBrpHBC2uvw&scan=1
Registration of Death of Benjamin Clarke https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=OZ%2B6hXeWpK1c0W8Y4p5WHg&scan=1
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 609. Also available via https://www.familysearch.org/
Rockland All Saints with Saint Andrew Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 335. Transcription viewed via FreeReg website https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_queries/6155c1ccf493fd00ee5d03a9?locale=en
Rockland Saint Peter Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 336.Transcription viewed via FreeReg website https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_queries/6155c21af493fd00ee5d0ac8?locale=en
Watton St Mary Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 218. Transcription viewed via FreeReg website https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_queries/6155c2c3f4040b285549ac5d?locale=en
1841 census HO107/781/14, HO107/781/15
1851 census HO107/1823/155, HO107/1823/149, HO107/2357/530
1861 census RG9/1237/128, RG93561/32, RG9/1238/153
1871 census RG10/1841/121, RG10/4760/4
1881 census RG11/2006/86, RG11/4504/128, RG11/4537/48
Huge thanks to Kim O’Brien, a Clarke family descendant