CFHS code : ML33
Parish : St Mary the Less
Inscription : JOHN ROY WILLIAM CLARK MD FRS Fellow of Trinity also of MARY CLARK wife of the above b March 24 1802 d 11 Nov 1887 Professor of Anatomy from 1817 to 1866 b 1778 d Sept 18 1869
Monument : Not described
Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey
Lat Lon : 52.202817, 0.13783254 – click here for location
Rev. John Roy William (William) Clark (5 April 1778 -15 September 1869)
William was the son of John and Susannah Clark and was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was baptised on 5 April 1788 and educated at a private school in Welton, Yorkshire before going up to Trinity college, Cambridge in October 1804. He was awarded a B.A. (7th wrangler) in 1808 and was then elected as a fellow of the college. He was elected as a fellow at the first attempt due to his ‘elegant translation of a passage from one of Pindar’s Ishthmian Odes into English verse’.
After being made a fellow William Clark studied for a medical degree and qualified as a doctor in 1813. He was due to tour Greece and the East with his great friend Lord Byron in 1813, but after several delays the tour was abandoned completely. He was elected as Professor of Anatomy in 1817, awarded an M.D. in 1827 and made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1836. The Professorship only required him to deliver an annual course of lecture on the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and he was able to travel with Sir Mark Masterman Sykes from c.1818-1820 on an extended tour of Italy and Sicily. Whilst in Florence he purchased a series of wax models of the anatomy of the human body which the University authorised payment of.
In 1832 the anatomical collection was moved from a small building opposite Queen’s College to a larger building in Downing Street, and William Clark built up the collection known then as the Museum of Comparative Anatomy. The Museum and its collection was reported to have been ‘ a labour of love and the business of his life. A very large number of the preparations were made with his own hands; many of the rarer specimens of comparative anatomy were purchased out of his own purse’. A fews weeks before his death he purchased ‘at great cost’ a very rare complete skeleton of a narwhal with two large tusks.
William was ordained in 1818 and was vicar of Arrington, Cambridgeshire (1824), Wymeswold, Leicestershire (1825) and then Guiseley, Leeds (1826-1859). He was resident in Guiseley for c.3 months every year and was said to have spent a great deal of time storing the church, building schools, selecting curates and improving the Rectory.
He married Mary Willis on 30 July 1827 at St. Marylebone Parish Church, Marylebone and they had one son: John Willis (1833-1910). The family lived at Wanstead House, Hills Road and then Scroope House. William resigned as Professor of Anatomy in 1866 and was said to have ‘ discharged (the duties of the Professorship) with extraordinary zeal and success for nearly half a century’. A public subscription amongst the members of the University resulted in a bust being purchased to ‘commemorate his merits’. He died at Scroope House ‘at the very advanced age’ of 81 years, leaving an estate valued at £35,000 (c. £4.2m at 2020 values).
Mary Clark (née Willis) (24 March 1802 – 11 November 1887)
Mary was born in London and baptised at St. Marylebone Church in Westminster on 28 September 1802. She was the daughter of Robert Darling Willis (1760-1821) and Mary (1772-1850) and married Rev. Clark when she was 25 years old. She continued to live at Scroope House after she was widowed. In 1871 she was living there with son John and five domestic servants including a footman and butler. Mary died at home aged 85 years old.
Dictionary of National Biography
by Claire Martinsen
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