Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/49

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Clerk
Clerk
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architects of that name. He was born in April 1757. Though originally intended for the Indian civil service, he was apprenticed to a writer of the signet. After serving his articles he practised for a year or two as an accountant, and eventually was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates on 3 Dec. 1785. He soon made his mark at the bar, where he acquired so extensive a practice that, it is said, at one period of his career he had nearly one-half of the business of the court in his hands. On 11 March 1806 he was appointed solicitor-general to Scotland in the Grenville administration, an office which he held during the twelve months that that ministry lasted. His practice at the bar had been for some time falling off, and his health had already begun to fail, when, on 10 Nov. 1823, he was appointed an ordinary lord of session in the place of Lord Bannatyne. Assuming the title of Lord Eldin, he took his seat on the bench 22 Nov. As a judge he was not a success; his temperament was not a judicial one, and his infirmities rendered him unfit for the office. After five years of judicial work he resigned in 1828, and was succeeded by Lord Fullerton. As a pleader he was remarkable, both for his acuteness and his marvellous powers of reasoning, as well as for his fertility of resource. Possessed of a rough, sarcastic humour, he delighted in ridiculing the bench, and was in the habit of saying whatever he liked to the judges without reproof, though on one celebrated occasion, after a prolonged wrangle, he was compelled by the court to make an apology to Lord Glenlee for a fiery retort which he had made in reply to a remark of that judge (Journal of Henry Cockburn, 1874, ii. 207-10). In politics he was a keen whig. He had a considerable taste for fine arts, and occasionally amused himself in drawing and modelling. In appearance he was remarkably plain; he was also very lame, and paid no attention to his dress. It is related that when walking down High Street one day from the court of session he overheard a young lady saying to her companion rather loudly, 'There goes Johnnie Clerk, the lame lawyer.' Upon which he turned round and said, 'No, madam, I may be a lame man, but not a lame lawyer.' A felicitous sketch of this brilliant but eccentric advocate will be found in Cockburn's 'Life of Lord Jeffrey' (1852), i. 199-205. Clerk died unmarried at his house in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, on 30 May 1832, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. A vignette portrait of him will be found in the second volume of Kay, No. 320. His collection of pictures and prints was sold by auction at his house in March 1833, when a serious accident occurred by reason of the floor giving way.

[Kay's Original Portraits (1877), ii. 438-42; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice (1832), 551, 552; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 2 June 1832; Scots Mag. 1823, new ser., xiii. 760; Cockburn's Memorials of his Time (1856), 272-3, 407-8; Anderson's History of Edinburgh (1856), 428-9.]

G. F. R. B.

CLERK, JOSIAH, M.D. (1639–1714), president of the College of Physicians, was matriculated as a pensioner of Peterhouse, Cambridge, in December 1656, and took the two degrees in medicine, M.B. in 1661, M.D. on 3 July 1666. He was admitted a candidate of the College of Physicians on 26 June 1671, a fellow on 29 July 1675, and was appointed censor in 1677 and 1692. On the death of Sir Thomas Witherley he was named elect on 16 April 1694, delivered the Harveian oration in 1708, was consiliarius in 1707, 1709, 1710, 1711, and 1712, and was elected to the presidentship, void by the death of Dr. Edward Browne [q. v.], on 13 Sept. 1708, being re-elected at the general election of officers on the 30th of the same month. Clerk 'being indisposed by many bodyly infirmityes, and also aged,' was unable to act; he accordingly resigned on 18 Dec., and Dr. Goodall was appointed on 23 Dec. 1708. He had been chosen treasurer on 16 April 1708, and retained that office as long as he lived. Clerk died at his house in Fenchurch Street in the autumn of 1714, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. In the annals of the college cited by Dr. Munk the date of Clerk's death is given as 8 Dec., which is erroneous. His will (reg. in P. C. C. 188, Aston) was proved on 14 Oct. He desired 'to be decently, tho' very privately, buried by night in the vault in St. Olave Hart Street Church, where my honoured mother and my children lye, if it may be done with conveniency.' By his wife Abigail, who survived him, he left a daughter Elizabeth, married to Richard Wilshaw. Clerk's portrait is at the college.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. (1878), i. 379.]

G. G.

CLERK, MATTHEW (1659–1735), Irish presbyterian minister, was born in 1659. He was in Derry during the siege (1689), and received a bullet-wound on the temple, leaving a sore, over which he wore a black patch to the end of his days. Not till after the siege did he begin his studies for the ministry. He was ordained in 1697 by the Route presbytery as minister of Kilrea and Boveedy, co. Derry. In 1721 he was the sole dissentient from the synod's 'charitable

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