John Graham-Clarke (1736–1818)
As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 1, 296.
EBB’s maternal grandfather was born at Hull with his surname simply Graham. He was educated at Penrith Grammar School, which his father—also named John Graham—had attended. He went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne as a young military officer in the 1760’s and remained there for the rest of his life. In January 1786 he added the name Clarke to his own in compliance with the will of Thomas Mowld, a relative and a Clarke descendant from whom he inherited property. The name was added by Royal Licence, and this was one of the early uses of such a process. It is worth noting that John Graham-Clarke later played a key role in securing similar permission for the Moulton brothers, Edward and Samuel, to add Barrett to their family name. He became a wealthy businessman and merchant, and Jeannette Marks (p. 279) refers to his “commercial and social influence” as “beyond exaggeration.” He had extensive industrial interests, plantations in Jamaica, and ships employed in West Indies trade. His West Indies involvement brought him into close association with the Barretts. His first marriage was to a wealthy widow, Mrs. Rutter, who died in 1771. Through this marriage he acquired a profitable brewery business. His second marriage, all-important in relation to Moulton-Barrett family history, was to Arabella Altham—daughter of Roger Altham—on 12 June 1780. They had nine children, two of whom (Jacob and Henry) died in infancy. The first was EBB’s mother, Mary [q.v.], born 1 May 1781 in Newcastle. The other six who lived to adulthood are discussed below. John Graham-Clarke had luxurious homes, including Fenham Hall near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which he acquired shortly after his daughter’s marriage to Edward Moulton-Barrett. A favourite summer home was Kenton Lodge, three miles outside Newcastle. He died at Newcastle on 7 August 1818 and was buried there at St. Andrew’s Church, as was his wife.