William Clarke 1623?-1666

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Sir William CLARKE 1623?-1666

Biographical Note

Probably born in London. Did not attend university but entered the Inner Temple 1646 (barrister 1653). He became an assistant to John Rushworth, army secretary in the 1640s, and became increasingly senior as a government and military secretary thereafter, spending time with the army in Scotland in the early 1650s. He was a trusted aide to George Monck, who became Duke of Albemarle after the restoration, and ensured Clarke's ongoing promotion as secretary-at-war; he was knighted in 1661. He died at sea after being injured during a battle in the Anglo-Dutch War.


Clarke bought books throughout his life; his extensive collection of Civil War pamphlets was bequeathed, with his other books, to Worcester College, Oxford by his son George (1661-1736). Clarke's papers and correspondence have been much valued by historians.


  • Henderson, Frances. "Clarke, Sir William (1623/4–1666), military administrator." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Hoare, P. (gen.ed.), The Cambridge history of libraries in Britain and Ireland. 3 vols. Cambridge, 2006. II 40.
  • Mendle, M. Preserving the ephemeral in J. Andersen (ed), Books and readers in early modern England, 2002, 201-16, 209-10.