This page explores the ancestry and life of James Clarke (21 Sep 1877 - 20 Sep 1944) of Somerset and Edmonton, north London who married into the Fisher family of Wedmore.
James Clarke (Jim) the man who was to be the husband of Maud Amelia Pope Fisher was born on 21 Sep 1877 in Pleamoor Cross, Wellington, Somerset, the seventh of the ten children of Charles Clarke and his wife Lettice. His ancestry is shown on the right and is due, with grateful acknowledgement, to John Beresford Clarke.
Little is known of Jim's early life, although one photo has come down to us - see the far left photo at the top of the page. He probably left school at a young age, but either found work hard to come by or was not one to settle in any job for long. In 1890, he was a river boatman, in 1893 he was a baker's boy and in 1903 a gunmaker.
The family interest starts when he was a baker's boy. This was in Wedmore in Somerset quite a way from his family's home. That is where he met Maud. The story goes that he would sit behind her in church and tie her plats to the chair or pew so that she would be forced to notice him. This sense of fun was to play a strong part in his life: people took to him, which is why he would eventually become very successful at selling insurance.
But back to his early life in Wedmore: Apparently the bakery where he worked was opposite the shop of Harriet, Maud's mother, in Combe Batch, Wedmore, and he would watch Maud through the window while she did her dressmaking in an upstairs room. On 13 Apr 1903, the couple married at the parish church of St Mary in Wedmore. The marriage certificate gave Jim's occupation as a gunmaker, although there seem to be no family recollections of him in this trade.
After their marriage, Jim and Maude (now spelt with an added E) immediately left for London, where they lived briefly in rented accommodation in The Hyde, a low cost housing estate where many west country folk came to live in order to get work in London. Then they moved to 72 Fairfield Road, Upper Edmonton, London. By the standards of the day for working class people, they did quite well and seem to have various properties in the Edmonton area. Also, so their son Hubert reported, little pots of money used to arrive surreptitiously from somewhere - possibly a legacy from Maud's mother Harriet or maybe from Maud's said-to-be deceased father Jacob Pope.
It is difficult to piece together the order in which the couple occupied their various addresses. By the time their second son (my father) was born, they were in 77 Sheldon Road, and at one time they were at 9 Huxley Road, although they probably raised most of their family at Sweet Briar Cottage in Warwick Road. Altogether they had ten children, all born in Edmonton, of whom nine survived to adulthood. They are listed on the page about Maude.
The family were active members of Tanners End Mission. They were known for their hospitality to the local community, and it was regular practice to invite people into their home to sing hymns round the piano which Maude played. Jim ran the Edmonton Boys' Brigade and was also a special constable.
|James Clarke (left) with the Edmonton Boys Brigade which he ran||James Clarke as a special constable in Edmonton|
However, life was to change dramatically for the family with the onset of World War II. They had recently moved into a large house in Silver Street when the house was completely demolished in the blitz. Maud died instantly and the other family members had to be hospitalised; one was permanently disabled. Their son Horace was killed on active service not long afterwards. Jim never really recovered. He and his unmarried children were moved to temporary accommodation in Lancaster Road, then to a flat in Angel Close and finally to a flat in Joyce Avenue. Jim died on 20 Sep 1944 in North Middlesex Hospital and was buried with Maude in Church Street Cemetery, Edmonton.