Clark Family History

This page is about Lieutenant Ralph Clark, his wife Betsy Alicia nee Trevan, and son Ralph.

Lieutenant Ralph Clark travelled to Australia as part of the First Fleet which left England in 1787 and arrived in Australia 252 days later.

He kept journals, many of which survive and are today held as part of the Mitchell Collection in Sydney, certainly the years 1787-1792. Ralph Clark's journals were sold at Sothebys in 1914 by Frederick Adolphus Trevan, the last known male descendant of this branch of the Trevan family. He was descended from Betsy Alicia's youngest brother, John Archer Trevan, who became a Customs Officer and served at Port Isaac on the north east coast of Cornwall for many decades. Here is an old postcard view of the village. John Archer Trevan married well, into the Hambley family, and inheritted "The White House" from his wifes family. Here is a photo of the house and also an album showing what it looked like before it collapsed and after it was rebuilt in the 1970s. The property still stands today on the western side of the bay at Port Isaac.    


Ralph Clark's Wife and Child

He married Betsy Alicia Trevan, eldest surviving daughter of Matthew Trevan and Elizabeth nee Stephens, at Stoke Damerell (part of modern day Plymouth, Devon, England) on 23 Jun 1784. Although the registers do not show either of their age, she was 22. She was baptised 28 Feb 1762 in St. Teath in North East Cornwall. Her sister Frances had been married a few months earlier and was shown as a minor, so presumably Ralph was 21 or over. One of the witnesses to the marriage was a Matthew Trevan, who could have been either her father or her brother, and the other was Ann Nicoll. Her father remarried less than a month after his eldest daughters' marriage, so presumably she had looked after the house and brought up her younger brothers and sisters after her mother died in 1783.

They had one son, Ralph Stuart (Stewart) Clark, who was baptised at Stoke Damerell on 3 Oct 1785
Ralph Stewart son of Ralph & Betsy Elicia Clark

According to Robert Hughes in his book "The Fatal Shore", Ralph had a daughter named Alicia by one of the prisoners, Mary Branham, on Norfolk Island in July 1791. Also Clark Island in Sydney Harbour is named after him. He tried to cultivate vegetables there after the prisoners stole them on the mainland. They swam outto the island to steal them, so the move was not totally successful!


Excerpts from His Journals

In his journals there are frequent mentions of his wife Betsy Alicia and his son Ralph Stuart. He also mentions his sisters-in-law Mary Ann and Jemima. He would have been remembering them as children since Mary Anne was 5 years Betsy's junior and Jemima was 9 years younger.

Both Mary Ann and Jemima survived into adulthood and married.

Some of his letters survive too, including one to his brother-in-law Matthew who was living in St Teath.


1794 - 4 Deaths, and on Only 2 Days

In 1794 Betsy Alicia died in childbirth, and the child was stillborn. A few months later son Ralph, who was a 9 year old mid-shipman, died of Yellow Fever on a ship in the Caribbean. Father Ralph was on board the same ship, and died during the fight with the French on the same day.
Note: The only source I have for this information is Robert Hughes book, and he does not name the ship or the date of death.

From information in the "Trevan Family Name History" in New Zealand "Australian records document the transfer of the estates of Ralph Clark and son Ralph Stewart Clark to Mathew Trevan in January 1796."


References to Lieutenant Ralph Clark

  1. The Fatal Shore - Robert Hughes
    Published by Pan in 1987
    ISBN 0-330-29892-5
  2. His journals 1787-1792
    Mitchell Library, Sydney


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Page created on 13 Oct 1998, last modified 13 Sep 2002 and published If you have any information or would like to exchange information you can contact me by e-mail

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