CFHS code : MG122

Parish : St Mary the Great

Inscription : base of cross JOHN WILLIS CLARK 24 June 1833 10 October 1910 Requiem eterna dona eis domine et lux perpetua luceat eis kerbs JOHN WILLIS CLARK 24 June 1833 10 October 1910 FRANCES MATILDA CLARK 26 October 1845 13 December 1908 ELIZABETH WATKINS 3 December 1832 13 January 1906

Monument : Stone cross (plinth only)/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202173, 0.13815285 – click here for location

Clark grave
Clark and Watkins grave set



John Willis Clark (24 June 1833 – 10 October 1910)

John was the son of  Dr. William and Mary (née Willis) and was baptised on 3 October 1833.  His father was Professor of Anatomy at Cambridge University from 1817 – 1866  and John attended Eton school before going  up to Trinity College in June 1851.  He was awarded an B.A. in 1856 (1st Class in the Classical Tripos), an M.A.  in 1859 and made a fellow in 1858.  He was a college lecturer for a short time and then worked in London as general amanging editor of Messrs/ Cassell, publishersbut returned to Cambridge where he assisted his father at the Anatomical Museum.  He later became Superintendant of the Museum of Zoology and Comparitive Anatomy where he was said to have ‘entirely re-arrianged the specimens in their new homes’.  The collection of skeletons of vertebrates in the museum was said to have been the work of John Clark and his father.

He also had however a passion for Cambridge and its history and published ‘Architectural History of the University of Cambridge, and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton’ which was published across four volumes and said said to be the most ‘important contribution to University history (that had) appeared during the last hundred years’. He published more book on Cambridge such as ‘Complete guide to the Town and University’ and ‘Cambridge: brief history and describptive notes’.

He married Frances Buchanan on 9 December 1873 at Holy Trinity Church, Chelsea and they had two sons: Edward Mellish (1874-1949) and Sir William Henry Clark (1876-1952).  The couple lived at 1 Scrope Terrace and then Scroope House. The marriage was said to have been extremely happy and a friend later wrote that John’s ‘perennial youth of spirit, the keynote of all that made his life such a fine thing…bridged the difference in years, whilst his highly trained brain acted as a constant stimulus to her intellectual power….on the other hand, all John’s firends soon found out what a softening and mellowing influence the constant companionship of one of the best of women could exercise over a nature whose angles had never had much chance of being smoothed down indomestic life’.

He was Registrary of the University for 19 years and only resigned the post ten days before his death.He was also a very keen theatre goer, performer and wrote several plays for the A.D.C. theatre.  It was said he was a ‘tempered Liberal’ with regard to politics but did not agree with Asquith’s introduction of old age pensions.  After Frances’ death in 1908 he was said to have changed and was ill with heart issues for two years before his death in October 1910. He went to Ventnor, Isle of Wight to recover in the Spring of 1910 and died in the autumn.

His funeral took place on 13 October  and he was buried at Mill Road Cemetery after a service at Trinity College Chapel.  The Cambridge Independent Press reported that the chapel was croweded and ‘there were also a good number in the ante-chapel, while a little crowd waited opposite the College gates and witnessed the arrival and departure of the procession. the coffin was born in an open car, and was covered with a beautiful embroidered velvet pall. Before the car walked the bearers and immediately behind came three open carriages completely filled with the most lovely floral tributes.  Then followed ten mourning coaches containing the mourners…’

His friend Dr. A.E. Shipley, Master of Christ’s College wrote a biography of his life which was published in 1913. He wrote that John Clark was ‘quick-tempered, and even passionate.  Like most eager and intensely busy vigourous men he was very impatient; he could never suffer fools gladly’.  I am aftrais if there was an suffering the folls did it. He was not universally popular but those who like Mr Shopley knew him intimately loved him’.

Frances Matilda Clark  (née Buchanan)  (14 October 1845 – 13 December 1908)

Frances was born in St. Petersburg and was the daughter of Sir Andrew Buchanan (1807-1882) and Frances Katherine Mellish.  Her father was a Scottish diplomat and she was baptised at the British Chaplaincy in St. Petersburg on 24 November 1845.  She married John Clark when she was 28 years old.

Frances died at home  and was said to have been ill for many months ‘and bore her illness with unflinching courage and patience’.  She was said to have devoted herself to improving conditions for the college bedmakers and helps.  The Cambridge Independent Press reported that ‘she had ever a kindly nature and was ready at ally times with her tactful sympathy and practical help in all good works. Gifted with a high power for organisation she initatied and helped forward many of the numerous projects which  play a considerable part in the life of a University town’.

Elizabeth Watkins (1832-1906)

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Frances Matilda Clark; John Willis Clark; Elizabeth Watkins