||Joseph Clarke migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).|
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Joseph isn't profiled in Anderson's Great Migration series, but records indicate he was in Rhode Island by 1639, when he was admitted as an inhabitant at Aquidneck.
Joseph Clarke evidently came to Boston with his older brothers, Thomas and John, but he is not mentioned in any records of that town. He may have come as servant to his brother John, as was later noted in a recording of his lands in Newport, Rhode Island. Joseph Clarke first appears on the record when he was admitted an inhabitant of the Island of Aquidneck (at Portsmouth) on 24 January 1638/9, and again on 21 February 1638/9. However, he soon left Portsmouth for Newport, newly founded by his brother, John Clarke. He was admitted an inhabitant and made a freeman of Newport at a General Quarter Court held there on 17 December 1639. He was present in the General Court of Election held at Newport on 12 March 1640, and was listed on the court roll of freemen on 16 March 1641. He served on the grand jury at a Quarter Sessions Court at Portsmouth on 1 December 1641. He is said to have been one of the original members of the First Baptist Church of Newport in 1644, and was certainly a member in full communion in 1648.
Sometime between March 1643 and 15 March 1644, Joseph Clark had his lands in Newport, consisting of fifty acres, recorded.
On 25 December 1644, Joseph Clarke deeded five acres of meadow lying on the soutwest side of the harbor in Newport to Robert Stanton of Newport. His land is also mentioned in the record of highways laid out by William Dyre, Nicholas Easton, and Mr. John Clarke dated 15 February 1654. On March 10, 1656/7, Joseph Clarke was granted a 1/54th share of the purchase of Conanicut (later, Jamestown) and Dutch Islands, and he also signed on behalf of his brother, it being ordered "that Joseph Clarke shall subscribe hereto in the behalf of his Brother Mr. John Clarke in England." Joseph Clarke, of Newport, was also appointed to the perpetual council that would govern the affairs of Conanicut.
In 16 May 1648, he was made a member of the General Court of Trials to represent the town of Newport, and served on both the grand and petit juries at Warwick on 30 June 1657. His name appears on a list of the freeman of the Colony, of Newport, in 1655. From 1655 on, he is referred to in the records of the Colony as "Mr. Joseph Clarke,"and was a commissioner for Newport at the Court of Commissioners held at Portsmouth on 28 June 1655, at Newport on 19 May 1657, at Portsmouth again on 10 March 1657/8, at Providence on 17 May 1659, and once more at Portsmouth on 23 August 1659. He was made an Assistant (which appears to have been the same as commissioner) for Newport at the General Court of Election held at Warwick on 18 May 1658, and served in this capacity at a General Court of Trials held at Newport in June 1658, at a meeting of the General Counsel held at Warwick on 14 October 1658, at another General Court of Trials held at Warwick on 16 October 1658, at the General Court of Election held at Providence on 17 May 1659, at a General Court of Trials held at Newport on 3 March 1659/60, and at a meeting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, and Assistants held at Newport on 25 November 1663. On 4 July 1657, at a General Court held at Warwick, Mr. Joseph Clarke and three others were authorized to write a letter to Mr. John Clarke in England to request further judgment of the authorities in England in the charges of treason brought against William Harris by Roger Williams. He was also chosen to form a committee with five others at a General Court of Commissioners held at Portsmouth on 23 August 1659, to write a letter of thanks to Mr. John Clarke, to review letters sent to the colony regarding disputes with the "United Colonies, Massachusetts, or Plymouth," and to insturct Mr. Clarke to take such matters before Parliament accordingly. The task of opening letters and informing Mr. Clarke, as well as providing Clarke with a commission from the Colony, was reauthorized to Mr. Joseph Clarke, althouhg he was not an Assistant at the time, and the others at a General Assembly held at Warwick on 18 October 1660.
On 1 November 1661, Tobias Saunders, Robert Burdick, and Joseph Clarke were arrested for taking possession of lands of Southertown, in the Pequot Country, under a warrant issued by the commissioners of the General Court of Massachusetts dated 25 October 1661 to the constable of Southertown, Walter Palmer. However, Clarke "upon extraordinary occasion was, by the Commissioners [of Southertown] and constable, set at liberty." Southertown was the name given by Connecticut to the area called Misquamicutt (later Westerly) by the Rhode Islanders who were settling there. Saunders and Burdick were taken to Boston, where from testimony they gave on 14 November 1661, it is learned that the Court of Rhode Island had allowed them to purchase lands of the Indians there, and Burdick had "built a small house there, upon the lott layed out to him." "Joseph Clark of Road Island, who was also apprehended in the company of the two former persons, being all three in company, was released by the Constable upon a very urgent occasion." Clarke was the only one identified as of "Road Island," which indicates that he was a resident of the island of Road Island (Newport or Portsmouth), and was not residing in Westerly.
Joseph Clarke's name appears as one of the "purchasers and free inhabitants of our island, called Rhode-Island, and the rest of the colonie of Providence Plantations" in the charter granted to Rhode Island by Charles II, King of Great Britain, on 8 July 1663, and by order of this charter he was appointed an assistant to the General Assembly at Newport on 1 March 1663/4. He served in this position again at meetings of the General Assembly held at Newport on 4 May 1664, in October 1664, on 23 February 1664/5, and 3 May 1665. He was not re-elected to that position at the last meeting.
He appears to have had a son, whose name is not known, who was killed in 1662 in unknown circumstances. At a General Court of Trials held at Newport on 8 March 1663/4,
Upon accation of some debate in this Court Concearning the Death of a young neger sarvant to Mr. benidict arnold now govenor in the yeare 1661 soe Called and alsoe Concearning the Death of a son of Mr Joseph Clarke now assistant in the yeare 1662 the Court declares themselves fully satisfied in the proceedings taken by the towne of newport and the officers therof to the Enquiers after the Death of the parsones aforesd and that the proceeding aforesayd weare fully availeable sufficiente and unquestonable as to the Clearing of all parsones from all maner of guilt Relating to the Death of the parsones aforesd.
He appears to have lived in Newport for the rest of his life. Some histories say he removed to Westerly, but a detailed study of the Rhode Island Colony Records shows that it was his son, Joseph, who was made a freeman of Westerly in 1668, and appears there in 1669, 1671, and 1679. Joseph Clarke was appointed on 13 or 14 May 1667, to a committee by the town of Newport to collect 155 pounds for the defense of that town and outfitting the prison. He took leave of grand jury duty in 1669: at a Court of Trials held at Newport, 10 May 1669, Mr. Joseph Clarke, who had been selected by the town of Newport to serve on the grand jury, had not appeared for his term, but considering "how much hee hath ben Imployed formerly and that in this Court his son Joseph was prevayled with to Saply the place of a grand Jury man. The Court doe Remitt the aforesd Mr Joseph Clarkes fine for not appearing." Mr. Joseph Clarke was a Deputy for Newport at meetings of the General Assembly held at Newport on 6 May 1668, 28 October 1668, 27 October 1669, 13 October 1670, 26 October 1670, 25 September 1671, 5 March 1671/2, and 2 April 1672.
He was very active in the efforts of Rhode Island to thwart the designs of Massachusetts and Connecticut to take the lands of the Narragansett region. On 20 Mar 1664/5, Joseph Clarke was among fourteen men chosen at Pettasquamscutt to exercise the powers of Justices of the Peace or Magistrates for the Naragansett Country, or the King's Province, by order of the King's Commissioners. On 2 May 1677, Mr. Joseph Clarke was elected and engaged as an Assistant at a General Assembly and Election held at Newport and was appointed to a Court of Justices of the Peace to be held in the Narragansett (or King's) Province on the 15th of May for the speedy and peaceful settling of the inhabitants of that region. He was an Assistant at the General Court of Trials held at Newport on 7 May 1677, and shortly thereafter took the acknowledgement of Thomas and Liddia Burge of Newport on a sale of land in Dartmouth, Plymouth Colony, to Thomas Ward of Newport on 27 June 1677, in the capacity of an Assistant. He was an Assistant at the General Court of Trials held at Newport on 24 October 1677, 6 May 1678, 23 October 1678, 17 May 1679, and 22 October 1679, and at General Assemblies held at Newport on 30 April 1678, 1 May 1678, 25 March 1679, 6 May 1679, 17 September 1679 (at Westerly), and 4 May 1680. On 9 July 1679, he was among four men, including the Governor and Deputy Governor, who supplied 18 pounds, 8 shillings in partial payment to Mr. Arnold of 60 pounds the later paid to Capt. Randall Howldon and Capt. John Greene of Warwick on behalf of the Colony. On 23 June 1681, these four petitioned the General Assembly for repayment of the moneys they paid, which was granted.
A "mr. Clarke" mentioned as holding 17 acres at Stony River in Newport on behalf of John Alcock, deceased, for the son of the latter in an inventory dated 8 August 1677, may have been Joseph Clarke, as he held land near Stony River (see above). In 1680, Joseph Clarke of Newport was taxed £1 13s 3d. Mr. Joseph Clarke, "my loving friend," was made an overseer of the estate of Rev. Obadiah Holmes in the will of the latter, dated 9 April 1681. On 25 September 1685, Joseph Clarke, of Newport, and his wife, Margaret, sold a 1/54th part of Conanicut Island, consisting of 89 acres, and a 1/54th part of Dutch Island (which lies to the west of Conanicut, or Jamestown) to Francis Brinley of Newport for £100. This is the last official record of Joseph Clarke. He may have been mentioned with other early church members in a letter from Rev. Samuel Hubbard to John Thornton of Providence, dated 19 December 1686.
Joseph Clarke left no will that has been found. In the will of Dr. John Clarke, dated 20 April 1676, Joseph Clarke is said to have had two wives, his son John being by the first. The will of Thomas Clarke, dated 28 July 1674, mentions Margaret, wife of his brother Joseph Clarke. An addendum to the will of Thomas Clarke names the children of Joseph Clarke that were alive on 19 December 1674: Joseph Clarke, John Clarke, William Clarke, Susannah (surname struck-out), Mary (surname struck-out), Joshua Clarke, Sarah Clarke, Thomas Clarke, Kary (Carew) Clarke, and Elizabeth Clarke. Joseph Clarke may have had more children who died young, before 1674, or were born after 1674, although the latter is unlikely. His death is recorded in the family Bible held by the descendants of his son, John.
He married first ------, about 1641 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island. Residence: Newport, Rhode Island.
Tobias Saunders of Westerly in his will, dated 9 August 1688, mentions his "cousin Joseph Clarke," probably the son of Joseph Clarke. Joseph Clarke Jr. was a neighbor and associate of Tobias, who bade Clarke and John Maxson Sr. assist his widow as administratrix. As "cousin" was often used to denote a nephew, this would mean that Joseph Clarke's first wife was sister to Tobias Saunders. However, Joseph Clarke Jr. was also a true cousin to Mary (Peckham) Saunders, Tobias's wife and daughter of John and Mary (Clarke) Peckham, and Saunders may have been referring to him in that sense.
Joseph Clarke married second MARGARET ------, about 1656 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island. She died in 1694 in Newport, Newport, Rhode Island. Residence: Newport, Newport, Rhode Island.
Margaret Clarke, wife of Joseph Clarke, was mentioned in the will of her brother-in-law, Thomas Clarke, dated 28 July 1674, and Joseph Clarke is said to have had two wives in the will of his other brother, John Clarke, dated 20 April 1676. Therefore, Margaret must have been his second wife. On 25 September 1685, Joseph Clarke, of Newport, and his wife, Margaret, sold a 1/54th part of Conanicut Island, consisting of 89 acres, and a 1/54th part of Dutch Island to Francis Brinley of Newport for £100. Several secondary sources list her as Margaret Turner, but there is no known evidence to support this contention.
They had the following children:
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