Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Robert Whitmore Clarke R. N.,

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent

Date of Seniority Royal Navy 7 September 1844


Robert Whitmore Clarke was born c. 1812 in Woolwich. In 1834 he was included in the Royal College of Surgeons List of Candidates who received a Diploma in the month of May (Woolwich). [1]; Also in 1834 he was on the list of Gentlemen to whom the Court of Examiners granted Certificates of Qualification to the Apothecaries Hall. [2]

Royal Navy Service

In February 1836 Robert Whitmore Clarke, Assistant-Surgeon of the Royal Navy was appointed to the Haslar Hospital [3] In December 1836 he was appointed Assistant-Surgeon to the Opossum [4]. He was Surgeon at the Greenwich Hospital in 1843 and gave evidence at an inquest in November of that year [5]. He was promoted to Surgeon in the Royal Navy on 7 September 1844. [7] In 1845 was appointed Surgeon to the Grecian.

Convict Ship Baretto Junior

1850 Robert Whitmore Clarke was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the Baretto Junior in 1850. He kept a Medical Journal commencing 23 March 1850. The Courier (Tas) reported that the Baretto Junior (Captain Huggins) shipped 190 female prisoners at Woolwich; three died on the passage out and one threw herself overboard. There were also 22 children embarked, two of whom died. There was one birth. Matrons employed for the voyage were Miss Gowland and Miss S. Gowland.

The ship experienced a terrifying hurricane at midnight on the 10th July. The scene below decks was described by the surgeon - the situation was very sad; several seas having forced themselves down between decks, many of the poor women thought their last hour was come; the least frightened among them, under the direction of the Surgeon, baling and swabbing the water up with great industry, although they were thrown and bruised about by the heavy rolling of the ship. Read the rest of the entry here.

The Baretto Junior arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 13th April 1850.


A son, William Martin Clarke was born to Robert and Margaret Clarke in 1850 (Baptised in May at Greenwich). Robert is not included in the 1851 UK Census residing at 31 Edward Street, East Greenwich. Margaret resides there with their two young children William (age 1) and Margaret (age 5). They have two servants.

Convict Ship John William Dare 1852

Robert Clarke was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ship John William Dare from Dublin in 1852. The John William Dare departed Dublin 28 December 1851 and arrived in Hobart on 22 May 1852 with 169 female convicts, 8 adult passengers and 7 children. Three prisoners and two children died on the voyage.


In Melville's Directory of Kent in 1858 his address was Laurel Place, South Street, Greenwich.

In 1867 he was promoted to the rank of deputy inspector-general of hospital and fleets on the retired list [8]. In the Medical Register 1868 his date of Registration is 1 January 1859.

He can be found in the 1871 Census residing in James Terrace, Park Hill, Surrey with his wife Margaret Elizabeth age 54 and their daughter Margaret Francis Maria age 25 and son William Martin Clarke, son age 21 who was a clerk to a cotton broker. They have two servants. He gives his age as 59 and birth place as Woolwich. [9]


Robert Whitmore Clarke died in 1882 - The Will of Robert Whitmore Clarke late of Great Yarmouth in the Co. of Norfolk, Surgeon R.N. who died 1 October 1882 at Great Yarmouth was proved by Margaret Elizabeth Clarke of 33 Nelson road South Great Yarmouth, widow. Personal Estate £947/13/5d [10].

Notes and Links

Marriage - Clarke - Man - On June 22 1891, at St. Stephen's Ootacamund, India, by the Rev. J. Black, William Martin Whitmore, son of the late Robert Whitmore Clarke R.N., to Lizzie Caroline (Carrie) daughter of the late Morrice King Man, of Indore, Central India [11].


[1] The London Medical and Surgical Journal

[2] The Standard 28 November 1834

[3] Morning Post 6 February 1836

[4] Caledonia Mercury 8 December 1836

[5] The Standard 27 November 1843

[6] Navy List

[7] The Navy List

[8] The Daily News 22 May 1867

[9] Ancestry. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004

[10] Ancestry. England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010 [11] The Mercury, (Hobart) 15 August 1891