Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clarke, James Stanier

CLARKE, JAMES STANIER (1765?–1834), author, eldest son of the Rev. Edward Clarke (1730-1786) [q. v.] and brother of the Rev. Edward Daniel Clarke [q. v.], was born at Minorca, where his father was at the time chaplain to the governor. Having taken holy orders, he was in 1790 appointed to the rectory of Preston in Sussex. He afterwards, February 1795, entered the royal navy as a chaplain; and served, 1796-9, on board the Impetueux in the Channel fleet, under the command of Captain John Willett Payne [q. v.], by whom he was introduced to the Prince of Wales. It was the end of his service afloat, for the prince appointed him his domestic chaplain and librarian, a post which he held for many years, during which time he devoted himself assiduously to literary pursuits. His connection with the navy, short as it was, gave a fixed direction to his labours. Already, in 1798, he had published a volume of 'Sermons preached in the Western Squadron during its services off Brest, on board H.M. ship Impetueux' (1798, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1801); and, in conjunction with Mr. J. McArthur, a purser in the navy and secretary to Lord Hood at Toulon, had started the 'Naval Chronicle,' a monthly magazine of naval history and biography, which ran for twenty years, and which, so far as it treats of contemporary events or characters, is of a very high authority. In 1803 he published the first volume, in 4to, of 'The Progress of Maritime Discovery,' a work which did not receive sufficient encouragement, and was not continued. He issued in 1805 'Naufragia, or Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks' (3 vols. 12mo); and in 1809, in collaboration with Mr. McArthur, the 'Life of Lord Nelson' (2 vols. 4to; 2nd edit. 1840, 3 vols. 8vo). Two copies were printed on vellum and finely bound; one of these was burnt, and the other is now in the British Museum (see Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. viii. 264). It is by this great work that he is most generally known—a work, great not only in size, but in conception, but which loses much of the value it should have had from the lax way in which it is written; official as well as private letters and documents having been garbled to suit the editor's ideas of elegance, and hearsay anecdotes mixed up indiscriminately with more authentic matter. Of this faulty execution Clarke must bear the blame, for it was understood that while McArthur supplied the material, Clarke supplied the literary style. In 1816 he published a 'Life of King James II, from the Stuart MSS. in Carlton House' (2 vols. 4to). The work is valuable on account of its containing portions of the king's autobiography, the original of which is now lost. Otherwise it is a servile attempt to portray James II in heroic colours. It obtained for its author from the prince the title of historiographer to the king. Besides the works already named, he edited Falconer's 'Shipwreck,' with life of the author and notes (1804, 8vo), which ran through several editions, and Lord Clarendon's 'Essays ' (1815, 2 vols. 12mo).

In 1806 he took the degree of LL.B. at Cambridge, and in 1816 the further degree of LL.D. was conferred on him per lit reg. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society, was installed canon of Windsor, 19 May 1821; and was deputy clerk of the closet to the king. He died on 4 Oct. 1834.

[Gent. Mag. (1835), new series, iii. 328; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 414; Gardiner and Mullinger 6 Introd. to Engl. Hist. p. 366; Rankers Hist, of England, vi. app.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.67
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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430 i 23 Clarke, James S.: for to the king read and royal chaplain from 1816