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CLARKE, EDWARD (d. 1630), diplomatist, the ‘Ned’ Clarke of the state papers, was employed by both Charles and Buckingham, although nominally in the latter's service, on many missions of a questionable nature. In September 1623 he was entrusted by Charles with the secret orders to Lord Bristol, then ambassador at Madrid, for the postponement of the marriage with the infanta. He sat for Hythe in the shortlived parliament of 1625. For an attempted defence of Buckingham he was on 6 Aug. in that year imprisoned by the commons at Oxford. The next year Buckingham endeavoured to persuade the bailiffs and twelve inhabitants who represented the voting power of Bridport to return Clarke; but as they had already returned Sir Richard Strode, one of the duke's nominees, they had promised the second place to Sir Lewis Dyve, although sorry to disoblige the duke (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1625–6, p. 237). Soon afterwards Clarke was busily engaged in spreading the news, which he well knew to be false, that all difficulties in the way of a French alliance were at an end. In 1627 he was sent on a mission to the king of Denmark, then engaged in his disastrous campaign in northern Germany. Clarke met the usual fate of court dependents. In March 1628 he was acting as the king's ‘agent’ at the town of Rochelle, with a handsome salary and ‘allowances for intelligence, and 600l. in advance’ (ib. 1628–9, p. 16). Two months later he accompanied the fleet to Rochelle, but very unwillingly, as he had previously predicted in a letter to Buckingham the certain failure of the expedition (ib. 1628–9, pp. 68, 120). While there he managed to offend Buckingham. On his return, ‘mightily dejected,’ Clarke was denied audience of the duke, and found himself shunned by every one at court (ib. 1628–9, p. 134). He attempted to conciliate Buckingham by means of a piteous letter to Secretary Conway, but without success (ib. 1628–9, p. 163). He did not long survive his patron, for he was dead before November 1630 (ib. 1629–31, pp. 371, 379; cf. ib. 1628–9, p. 5).

[Gardiner's Hist. of England, 1603–42, v. 118–121, 415, vi. 68, 160, 185–6; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1623–5, 1625–6, 1628–9, 1629–31; Lists of Members of Parliament (official return), pt. i. p. 467.]

G. G.