Browse Entries

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Biographical entry

  • Trove

Biographical entry Clarke, William John (1831 - 1897)

31 March 1831
Lovely Banks, Tasmania, Australia
15 May 1897
Victoria, Australia
Stud-breeder, Philanthropist and Agriculturalist


(Sir) William John Clarke was a prominent colonist who contributed greatly to all facets of life in Victoria. He was one of Victoria's top stud-breeders, but was also heavily involved in other areas such as the Freemasons, the Legislative Council and the Colonial Bank of Australia. Clarke was a great benefactor and freely gave large sums of money to charitable institutes.


John Clarke was a very successful livestock farmer. He was an advocate of farming based on sound scientific principles and organized for lectures in agricultural chemistry to take place across Victoria's farming communities. Clarke imported top quality equipment and animal stocks to establish some of Victoria's best farms. His farming interests, which even expanded to Queensland, included a model tenant farm, Leicester and merino sheep, Aberdeen Angus cattle and draught and thoroughbred horses.

Clarke was also great supporter of the arts and many local organizations including the Victorian Freemasons Society, the Blind Asylum, and in 1882 on a trip to England he established the Clarke Music Scholarship (3000 guineas) for entry to the Royal College of Music. He was governor of the Colonial Bank of Australia for twenty years and president of numerous organizations including the Homoeopathic Hospital, agricultural societies, The Australian Club, The Victorian Football League and the Melbourne Cricket Club. During the late 1870s Clarke became disillusioned with the lack of colonial defence so established his own battery of horse artillery.


Life event - Elected to the Melbourne Club
1874 - 1891
Career position - President of the West Bourke Agricultural Society, Victoria
Career position - President (inaugural) of the Victorian Football Association
1878 - 1897
Career position - Legislative Council Southern Province representative
1880 - 1881
Career position - President of the Melbourne Exhibition
1880 - 1886
Career position - President of the Melbourne Cricket Club
Career position - Provincial Grand Master of the Irish Constitution of the Victorian Freemason Society
Award - Baronet
Career position - Clark Music Scholarship established in England
Career position - District Grand Master of the Scottish and English Constitutions of the Victorian Freemason Society
Education - Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD (Hon)) received from the University of Cambridge, UK
Career position - President of the Australia Club
Career position - Inaugural Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria
Career position - President of the Australia Club

Published resources

Book Sections

Online Resources

McCarthy, G.J.