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Thursday, March 10, 2005

English Captain: Robert Clarke

There were two Robert Clarkes who served in the Commonwealth navy. One was more prominent, and he served in the Parliamentarian and Restoration navies, as well. He was obviously a very trusted and successful captain, whenever he served. From 1644 to 1646, Robert Clarke commanded the hired merchant ship Jocelyn (12 guns, 59 men, and196 tons). He served in the Summer Guard and Winter Guard for 1644. In 1645, he was assigned to the Irish Squadron in the summer and also was assigned to the Winter Guard. From 1646 to 1650, he commanded the Swan. In 1646, he was in the Summer Guard and the Winter Guard, while commanding the 5th Rate Swan. In 1647, he was in the Irish Guard again during both summer and winter. We also know that he was in the Irish Guard in the summer of 1648. From 1650 to 1653, he commanded the Reserve. For a period in 1653, he commanded the 6th Rate Drake. From 1654 to 1655, he commanded the Bristol. In 1656, he commanded the Unicorn. He had been in the Mediterranean Sea with Robert Blake. He was among eleven selected to be sent home. In 1657, he commanded the George. He had to report Robert Blake's death to the Admiralty Commissioners, after he died within sight of home on 7 August 1657. As Blake was on the George, Robert Clarke must have been his flag captain. In 1659, he commanded the Triumph. Finally, in 1660, he commanded the Speaker and took part in the Restoration voyage. He continued in command of the Mary (the renamed Speaker) in 1660. In 1661, Robert Clarke commanded the St. George and the Royal Charles. In 1663, he commanded the Antelope. In 1665, he commanded first the St. George and then the Gloucester. He fought in the Battle of Lowestoft, while in command of the Gloucester (58 guns). He was asssigned to Sir John Lawson's division. He also fought in the Four Days Battle, still in the Gloucester. He was assigned to Sir George Ayscue's division. In 1666, the Duke of Albemarle and Prince Rupert appointed Robert Clarke to command the 2nd Rate Triumph. He fought in the St. James's Day Battle while in command of the Triumph. In that battle, he was assigned to the Duke of Albemarles' and Prince Rupert's division. In 1667, he commanded the Monmouth and then the Mary. In 1669, he was reappointed to command the Mary. He was very active in the latter 1660's, serving under Sir Thomas Allin. Sources:
  1. R. C. Anderson, The Journals of Sir Thomas Allin, Vol.II 1667-1678, 1940.

  2. R. C. Anderson, List of English Naval Captains 1642-1660, 1964.

  3. Michael Baumber, General-at-Sea, 1989.

  4. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.

  5. J. R. Powell, The Navy in the English Civil War, 1962.

  6. J.R. Tanner, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Naval Manuscripts in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Vol.I, 1903.

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