Zachariah Clark, Free contractor, Alexander 1788

1793: Deputy Commissary Norfolk Island arriving on Norfolk Island aboard the Kitty in 1793.

Jan 1793: The Kitty transport being ready for sea, on Sunday the 20th two subalterns, three sergeants, three corporals, one drummer, and sixty privates, of the New South Wales corps, were embarked, for the purpose of relieving the detachment from that corps now on duty at Norfolk Island under the command of a captain, who received orders to return to this settlement. On board of this ship were also embarked, Mr. Clarke, the deputy-commissary for Norfolk Island; Mr. Peate, the master carpenter, who came out in the Royal Admiral; two coopers; two tailors; two officers’ servants; John Chapman Morris, Benjamin Ingram (pursuant to the conditional pardon which he received from Governor Phillip), and a few women: and on the 25th she sailed. [1]

Zachariah Clarke travelled from Norfolk Island to Sydney aboard HMS Reliance in Mar 1796. Sept 1799: Possessor of 60 acres of land at Norfolk Island; the land to be considered as a grant in the usual way.[2] In 1799, Zachariah returned to England for health reasons. Whilst in England he requested a pay rise, before returning to Norfolk Island.[3]

In the meantime on 12 Dec 1800: Mr. William Broughton, Storekeeper at Parramatta, is appointed Storekeeper and Acting Deputy Commissary at Norfolk Island, with a promise that if he chooses to return to this place, in case of Deputy Commissary Clarke’s return to Norfolk Island, he will resume his former situation here.[4]

Zachariah arrived back in the colony 13 June 1802 on board the Coromandel, bringing his eldest pregnant daughter Ann with him. They sailed for Norfolk Island on board the Greenwich in Aug 1802. Ann gave birth to her son George Clark 27 Aug 1802 Norfolk Island, his baptism entry in Rev Fulton’s Baptism notebook is actually crossed out and does not appear in any of the Early Church records indexes. Ann CLARK eventually married Thomas HIBBINS, in Oct 1803 on Norfolk Island.

25 Oct 1802: Zachariah was accused of incest with his daughter Ann. He was sent to Port Jackson on Francis on 24 Nov to stand trial. Governor King was unsympathetic and ordered that Clark be dismissed from his Commissary post and returned to Norfolk Island for trial. He arrived back on Norfolk Island aboard the Buffalo in May 1803 and was convicted. He was fined £40 and ordered to be imprisoned for 12 months.

Zachariah died 5 Dec 1804, Norfolk Island. His death was attributed to heavy drinking.[5] Phillip King wrote:

As the crime Deputy-Commissary Clark is accused of was committed at Norfolk Island I have sent him back there to be tried on the charge of incest with his own daughter. I am sorry I can say nothing in Mr. Clark’s favour.[6]

He was buried 6 December 1804 as listed in the Rev Fulton burial records. The Sydney Gazette reported his death: Mr. Zachariah Clarke (sic), Deputy Commissary, departed this life on the 5th of December, after a short illness.[7]

[1] David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.

[2] SRNSW Colonial Secretary’s Papers 1788-1828, Fiche 3267; 9/2731 p.67.

[3] Memorial of Zachariah Clark, deputy commissary of Norfolk Island, for a pay rise, 24 April 1801, The National Archives, Kew, Item reference HO 44/44. ff 182-183

[4] HRA, Series 1 volume 3,  p. 41

[5] Reg Wright, The Forgotten Generation of Norfolk Island and Van Diemens Land, Library of Australian History, Sydney, 1986, pp. 42 – 44 and Anne-Maree Whitaker, Joseph Foveaux : power and patronage in early New South Wales, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2000, pp. 71 – 72 and the Historical Records of Australia (HRA), Series 1 volume 5, p.827.

[6] HRA, Series 1 volume 4, p.86.Norfolk island deaths

[7] Sydney Gazette 10 March 1805

Cite this article as: Cathy Dunn, 'Zachariah Clark, Free contractor, Alexander 1788', Australian History Research,, accessed [insert current date]
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