William Clarke

William Clarke (1609 - 1690)

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Lieutenant William Clarke aka Clark
Born in Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about 1636 [location unknown]
Husband of — married 1636 [location unknown]
Husband of — married 15 Nov 1676 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Profile last modified 2 Sep 2019 | Created 13 Mar 2013
This page has been accessed 4,614 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
William Clarke migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
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Disputed Wives

Several surnames have been suggested for Sarah, the 1st wife of Lieutenant William Clark, Sr:

  1. Sarah Holton, the presumed sister of William Holton who is buried next to William and Sarah Clarke in Northampton, Massachusetts.
  2. Sarah Strong. (If her surname was Strong and she was a sister of Elder John Strong, it would mean that two of her children married first cousins, which was forbidden in Puritan New England.)
  3. Sarah Huit (or Hewitt), relative of Rev. Huit who was one of the pastors of the group that first settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts and then removed to Windsor, Connecticut.

No solid source documentation for either is available. Note,

For the ongoing conversation on the first wife, Sarah (Unknown) Clark, as we try to organize a single profile for her so that we can discuss the research there, please check out the forum on The many wives of William Clarke.

It is Wikitree's policy that when there is sufficient doubt of a name, the term Unknown should be used, rather than use a name which is inaccurate. There is no documentation as to his wife Sarah's maiden name, so it is listed as Unknown.


William Clarke was born in 1609 in Prior Hardwick, Dorsetshire, England.

William Clarke emigrated to the Colonies and lived a full, well-documented life. He married twice, both ladies were named Sarah. The first Sarah's maiden name is the subject of much debate. The second was Sarah (Slye) Cooper, previously married to Thomas Cooper who had been killed. "Leiut: William Clarke of Northampton and widdow Sarah Cooper. Maried: Nove[m]br 15th day: 1676, in Springfield.[1]

The following site is very well sourced and quotes many facts from Williams life without straying into fancy details:

The most discussed event in Williams life is exactly which ship he arrived on in which year. Here is a blog that clearly states the three most widely discussed possibilities, and eloquently re-tells the family story of the night William and Sarah lost their log cabin to a fire set by a runaway slave:

Cousin and fellow researcher, Rob, has asked me to include the fact that; "Robert Anderson (NEHGS Historical research writer) will be publishing his next book maybe in 2014 or 2015 which will have more definitive information about William Clarke's entire life and some comment on the ship. We can be more accurate then."


Note: http://www.familyorigins.com/users/b/l/o/Peter-E-Blood/FAMO5-0001/d13.htm#P392
Judge Lieutenant William CLARK was born in 1609 in Dorset, England. (79)(1636) (1637) He emigrated on 30 May 1633 to Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony.(1638) (1639)(1640) (1641) Left Southampton on 24 March 1633/4 on the Mary and John. After landing in Nantucket, they decided to settle in Dorchester (579). This voyage is not to be confused with the well known voyage made by this ship in 1630. Trumbull, Cuttere (640) and Hull (580) claim he came on the William and Mary in 1630, but there is less evidence of this (245). He became a member Church of Dorchester between 23 Aug 1636 and 28 Feb 1661 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA. (1642)(1643) (1644) The dates reflect when he and his wife became members and when he was dismissed to establish a church in Northampton. His wife and son Nathaniel were dismissed somewhat later. He at least 6 acres of land at Squantum Neck before 1638 in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony. (1645) He was Selectman between 1645 and 1650 in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony.(1646) He was elected in 1645, 1647 and 1650 He was a Rator (Assessor) between 1651 and 1657 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA.(1647) He was elected in 1651, 1652, 1655, and 1657. He was a Surveyor between 1652 and 1672 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA.(1648) William was one of four men hired to lay out the town. In 1654, William was chosen one of a committee to lay out a way to the burial ground. In 1672, William laid out the township of Squakheag (later Northfield). He was a "Fence Viewer" between 1653 and 1658 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA.(1649) He was elected in 1653, 1656, 1657, and 1658. He One of 24 men to petition General Court of Massachusetts to "plant, possess and inhabit Nonotuck." in May 1653 in Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA. (1650)(1651) (1652) The petition to the Massachusetts General Court to inhabit land in Nonotuck (Northampton) was signed in May 1653 by 24 petitioners, including Clarke, who was the only signer not from Connecticut. Although he was therefore one of the original grantees, he did not move there for six years. As he was elected to several local offices. Northampton is the seat of Hampshire county, MA, and lies along the Connecticut River, 17 miles of Springfield. It was originally known as Nonotuck, an Algonquian word meaning "middle of the river." It was settled in Spring 1654 and named for Northampton, England. It subsequently became a self-sufficient farming community. During King Philip's War (1675-76) and Queen Anne's War (1702-13), the area was the scene of brutal raids. In one such attack (May 1704), half the population of the nearby village of Pascommuck (now in Easthampton) was slaughtered. He was a Boundsman between 1654 and 1669 in Dorchester, Suffolk, MA.(1653) William was named Boundsman to determine the boundary between Dorchester and Braintree (1654), Dedham (1655 and 1658) and Roxbury (1658). In 1658, he was chosen to lay out land for Gamalee Beaman and in 1659 for a school, but did not complete these tasks for he had left for Northampton. He was a Farmer after 1654 in Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA.(1654) One of the first 24 planters of Nonotuck (Northampton). He served as a Lieutenant of Northampton company militia between 1658 and 1664 in Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA.(1655) (1656) In 1658, Northampton formed its first train band of 60 men and William Clarke was appointed Lieutenant and ranking officer (companies of less than 64 men had no captains). Train bands (local militias) were formed to defend the town and were confirmed by the General Court of Massachusetts, which confirmed Clarke was as Lieutenant on 8 Oct 1662. He Amoung several individuals who financed the building of (and therefore owned) a grsit mill in 1659 in Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA. (1657) Prior to building a mill in Northampton, grain had to be taken to Springfield to be ground. The town provided the site for the mill. Robert Hayward became the first miller and operator. He purchased the site in 1661. He moved in 1659 to Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1658) During the journey to Northampton, his wife rode a hose with two basket on either side, carrying a boy in each basket and one on her lap. William walked behind them. He Awarded 12 acres of land on the west side of what is now Elm Street and Smith College campus between 20 Oct 1659 and 30 Apr 1661 in Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA. (1659)(1660) William's lot, and that of Henry Woodard, were the largest home lots awarded and furthest west. He built a log house (a "block house") and lwhich served as a place of refuge in times of Indian trouble. The lot, called "Meeting House Hill," was the highway on the east and Mill River on the west. It comprises what is today the northern half of the Smith College campus. By 1661, William had been awarded four more lots such that he held 110 acres by the Town of Northampton. Between 1660 and 1674, William purchased outright additional lots totalling another 90 acres. He resided on his original 12 acre lot on Meeting House Hill until 1681.
He was town Commissioner in 1660 in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony. (1661) He was Townsman (selectman) between 1660 and 1683 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1662) During this period, William was elected 20 times. He was also chosen one of the commissioners to end small causes. He moved between 10 Jul 1660 and 28 Feb 1661 to Nonotuck (later Northampton), Hampshire, MA. (1663)(1664) (1665) The later date is when he joined the church at Northampton. According to Nyman, Clarke and five other men were persuaded to come to Northampton at the suggestion of Northampton's new minister, Reverend Eleazar Mather. According to Cutter, to the "New Country" of the Connecticut Valley. There was but one solitarily trail through the woods. "His wife rode horseback with two baskets or panniers slung across the horse, carrying a boy in each basket and one on her lap, her husband, fifty years old, preceding on foot." Nyman reports that this was at the time "a customary mode of travel, with furniture and possessions going by boat." According to Trumbull, he arrived with five other men and "their coming was like the infusion of new blood into the veins of an exhausted patient. From the day of their arrival, these men took a leading part in the management of town affairs. Their energy, independence and public spirit soon wrought a marked improvement. All of them were at once put into harness, and from this date the advance of the settlement was steady and vigorous. Other settlers arrived during the year, most of them were from Dorchester." According to Nyman, Northampton was then "a frontier outpost of about 200 inhabitants with two horse paths goring from it - one to Springfield and one to Hadley. Worcester County was still a wilderness so the settlement was surrounded by Indians, except for the group at Springfield to the south. No church organization existed: a plain, thatched structure with one door and two windows served as the house of worship."
He served as a lieutenant of fitst military company in Dorchester in 1661 in Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony.(1666) He became a member First Church of Christ in Northampton on 28 Apr 1661 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1667) On that day, he signed the book as did his wife and children. Clarke became one of four founding members of the first church in Northampton. He is remembered as one of the seven pillars of the church. The population of Northampton was then about 300. He was authorized to perform marriages in 1662 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1668) As Lieutenant of the Northampton company, Clarke became the first person in Northampton authorized to perform marriages ceremonies by the General Court of Massachusetts. He was Associate Justice of the Hampshire County Court between 1662 and 1688 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1669) The county which would be called Hampshire was formed 7 May 1662. William Clarke and Ens Wilton were chosen to confer with Springfield and Hadley to name the new county. He was thereafter Associate Justice of the county for 26 years. Clarke heard the trial of Mary Bliss Parsons. In 1672, witch hysteria swept through the western outpost of Northampton (20 years prior to the famed hangings in Salem). There was a Mary Bartlett, who died only two years after her marriage. Her husband and father claimed she died of "unnatural means" and witchcraft was suspected. Mary Parsons was widely believed to have been reasonable. She was indicted for witchcraft twice and twice tried but acquitted by the Court of Assistants. He was elected Representative at the General Court between 1663 and 1677 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1670) During this time he served in 1663 and from 1668 to 1677. He was Deputy of the General Court (of Massachusetts) between 1663 and 1682 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1671)(1672) (1673) Nine years after the formation of Northampton, Clarke became Northampton's the Deputy of the General Court. He was elected 14 times to that office. He was frequently appointed by the Court to settle grievances with Indians. In 1671, Clarke and two other men were appointed to grant lands to the 33 petitioners who wished to settle the township of Squakheag (later Northfield), which was abandoned during the King Phillip's War in 1675. He was a Tavern owner in 1671 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1674) He Own lot 38 between 1673 and 1683 in Deerfield, Franklin, MA.(1675) He owned property and, according to Cutter (637), he resided there as well, but it does not appear that he ever lived there. He served as a Garrison commander in 1675 in King Philip's War (1675-1676).(1676) Actively served at age 50. Commanded a garrison of 26 men. Part of the three-man Northampton Committee on Military Affairs. He Slave or indentured servant owner Owned an indentued servant name Benoni Jones from age 12 to 21 between Mar 1678 and 1687 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1677) His father, Griffith Jones of Springfield, arranged that he be indentured to William until he was age 21. William was to "learn him to read and write and give him 5 £ at the end of his term with sufficient clothing as servants usually have." His mother was Ester Jones. Benoni was born May 13 1665.
Benoni was freed but died in a massacre at age 39. At 23 he married the widow Ester Ingersoll Gurly. They had four children. The family lived in a community of just a few houses (in what is now Easthampton, MA). On 13 May 1704, Indians attacked the Jones house where all 33 of the community's residents had assembled being that the Benoni Jones house was the only fortified house in the area. There 19 were killed, 3 escaped, 8 were rescued later and 3 were carried off. Benoni Jones and sons Ebenezer and Jonathan were killed. Benjamin Jones (8 years old) was scalped but escaped. Ester was kidnapped and taken to Canada where she died after being tormented by priests trying to convert her. "And Then There Was You" by Marjorie E. Cook. 1979
He appeared in court in 1681 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1678)(1679) (1680) On the night of 14 Jul 1681, the log house of William Clarke was set afire while Clarke and his wife slept inside. It was set by a Negro salve named Jack, who had escaped from Samuel Wolcott of Whethersfield. Jack had been to court previously for several misdemeanors. He was found in Brookfield, Springfield or New Haven and identified by a jackknife in his possession that belonged to William Clarke. He was arrested and confessed that he lit the fire but claimed it was an accident that occurred while he searched for food using a brand of fire he took from the hearth. He was brought to court in Boston where he pled not guilty, but he admitted to it after his confession was read back to him. Clarke testified that the Negro fastened the doors on the outside so that no one could escape, then set the house afire. In his escape, Clarke injured his hands in his escape and his wife was slightly burned. Their grandson, John Clarke, was taken out and laid beside a fence. Clarke had kept gunpowder inside the house and when it exploded, the ridge pole blew across the road and stuck into the ground. The jury found Jack guilty. Jack was sentenced to be "hanged by the neck till he be dead and then taken down and burnt to ashes in the fire with Maria, the Negro." Marie had also been found guilty of burning down the houses of her master but for whatever reason, she was burned alive. Trumbull notes that may slaves were burned alive in New York, New Jersey and the southern colonies, but not in Massachusetts. Cutter (637) says his new house stood until 1826. He Clarke was among several men granted land in Northfield for services rendered in its settlement. between 1683 and 1688 in Northfield, Hampshire, MA. (1681) He received over 50 acres but never resided in Northfield although his son William did. He was Justice to County Court in 1687 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1682) Served as one of five Justices to the Hampshire County Court held at Northampton. He signed a will on 10 Jul 1690 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1683)(1684) (1685) He died on 18 Jul 1690 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1686) (1687) (1688) Died in an epidemic which started in 1689 and worked its way up the Connecticut River to Northampton. In 1690, 25 residents had died including Clarke and 10 other original settler of the town. Cutter (637) says he died one day earlier. He left, according to his inventory, £131 (reserved 24 for self) & 8 acres (disposed of nearly 200 acres prior to death) between 18 Jul 1690 and 30 Sep 1690 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1689) He was buried after 18 Jul 1690 in Bridge Street Cemetery, Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1690) (1691) In 1884 or 1888, his descendants erected a memorial to his memory in the Bridge Street Cemetery. He had an estate probated on 30 Sep 1690 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. (1692) He A monument was erected by his descendants near his grave in 1880 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA.(1693) The old grave stone is still preserved. He was Puritan. (1694) He was a mariner.(1695) Clark was " a man of great public spirit, resolute and capable" according to ______ (590) who was quoting from something said at the time.
He married to Sarah HOWARD before 1636. (1696)(1697) (1698) According to Richardson (448), her name was Sarah HOWARD. According to Trumbull, "William Clarke may be considered the father of [Northampton]. He was a Town officer and was among the first recorded jurors of the court. The court heard cases regarding slander, personal debts of residents, duties of "watchinge," liquor licenses, effluent from the mill, the choosing of residents for militia duty, appointment of county treasurer, recording of wills, and construction of a bridge over Mill River.
Trumbull called Clarke, "One of the 'Dorchester men' who arrived here soon after the settlement of Mr. Mather, he remained, to the end, the firm and faithful friend of his pastor. A man of quiet dignity, self-contained, and ready of resource, he bore a more conspicuous part in the early history of the town, than any others who lived here during the first twenty years of its existence." Clarke was "one of the most influential among the founders of the town. His reputation as a man of business preceded him, and he was at once put forward in many affairs of public importance, and so continued, a leader, till old age compelled him to give place to younger but scarcely better men. A man of great public spirit, resolute and capable, he was sure to be employed by the town in conducting any of its businesses requiring skill, knowledge, tact, and determination. He was a hard worker, a pioneer in the best sense of the term. Enduring hardship with cheerfulness, meeting difficulty half way, conquering oftener that conquered, he stands one of the most prominent among the promoters of the plantation. Founder of a numerous family that has had worthy representatives during the entire history of the town, and whose descendants are scattered throughout the land, his name I honored and respected wherever it is found."
In 1668, William was chosen to deal with local Indian insurgences. In 1670, he was chosen to select a new minister. In 1672, he contributed to Harvard College (10 bushels of wheat).
His wife's surname may have been QUICK. Children were: Sarah CLARK, Deacon Jonathan CLARK, Nathaniel CLARK, Experience CLARK, Increase CLARK, Rebecca CLARK, John CLARK, Samuel CLARK, Captain William CLARK, Sarah CLARK.
He married to Sarah (second wife) on 15 Nov 1676 in Springfield, Hampden, MA.(79) (1699)(1700) (1701) (Sarah was also the name of his first wife).


Type: Arrival
Date: 1630
Place: Massachusetts[2]


Place: Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA[3]


  1. Springfield. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/46055/1683/1320125420 vol 2. p1683, also v. 1 p. 23, v. 2 p. 1649
  2. Source: #S242 Page: Source Citation: Place: Nantasket, Massachusetts; Year: 1630; Page Number: 9 TMPLT FIELD Name: Page VALUE Source Citation: Place: Nantasket, Massachusetts; Year: 1630; Page Number: 9 Note: http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=pili354&h=1541981&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt Data: Text: arrival date: 1630 arrival place: Massachusetts Name: William Clark
  3. Source: #S246 TMPLT FIELD Name: Page Note: http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=websearch-4066&h=294669&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt Data: Text: Name: William Clark death date: 18 July 1690 death place: Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts birth date: 1609 birth place: Dorset, England burial place: Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, USA

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On 30 Dec 2012 Robin (Felch) Wedertz wrote:

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree:

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On 18 May 2019 at 11:57 GMT Chris Hoyt wrote:

Wife is Sarah (Slye) Cooper, widow of Thomas see original determination of LNAB: TAG: 57:91-4


And wife of Thomas Cooper/William Clarke in: GMII: p. 210 https://www.americanancestors.org/DB115/i/7373/210/22175252

On 17 May 2019 at 21:47 GMT Anne B wrote:

Leiut: William Clarke of Northampton and widdow Sarah Cooper. Maried: Nove[m]br 15th day: 1676. in Springfield. Torrey says shes Sarah (Slye) Cooper.

On 17 May 2019 at 17:54 GMT Teresa Downey wrote:

Does anyone know which marriage date is incorrect? Two wives with same marriage date...

On 4 Feb 2019 at 21:50 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

There are lots and lots of PMs on this profile.

On 4 Feb 2019 at 21:46 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

"Great Migration" by RC Anderson has a William Clark, enrolled at Southampton on the Mary & John on March 24, 1633/4. Which is the same as the info in this bio.

Anderson says: "It has not been possible to connect this passenger with any of the men named William Clark who later appeared in New England."

See here: https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/great-migration-immigrants-to-new-england-1634-1635-volume-ii-c-f/image?volumeId=7373&pageName=101&rId=235157040

I wondered about the source of this biography since there are no citations? I found that much is a direct quotation from this personal/private blog:


I think this biography needs some fact-based, objective work.

On 31 Jan 2018 at 22:08 GMT J (Schmeeckle) S wrote:

I detached William's imaginary father.

On 31 Oct 2017 at 16:57 GMT J (Schmeeckle) S wrote:

It looks like William's imaginary father should be detached.

On 1 Oct 2013 at 19:39 GMT Becky (Nally) Syphers wrote:

The vital Records of Northampton, Massachusetts where the birth of William Clark(e) is recorded is a copy of a copy of the original. It is also found on line on the premium website "AmericanAncestors.org.

On 22 Sep 2013 at 17:03 GMT Rod Clark wrote:

William Clarke did not come over on the Mary & John in 1633/4 according to Robert Anderson of the Great Migration Project of the NEHSGS.

William is 10 degrees from Thomas Edison, 23 degrees from Nikola Tesla and 14 degrees from George Westinghouse on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.