CLARKE, James II (c.1525-99), of Leicester.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1525, ?s. of Thomas Clarke of Keyham, Leics. m. Elizabeth, at least 3s. 3da.

Offices Held

Freeman, Leicester c. 1549, chamberlain, 1557, coroner 1566, bailiff 1567, mayor 1569-70, 1585-6, commr. musters 1573, dep. master Trinity hospital by 1574, commr. subsidy 1589, 1595, alderman 1599.


Clarke was elected one of the town’s 48 comburgesses shortly after he became a freeman, and throughout his life was an active member of the corporation. In November 1569, during his first term of office as mayor, Mary Queen of Scots passed through Leicester, and in September 1586, during his second mayoralty, she spent two days there on her way to Fotheringay. The previous winter, as mayor, Clarke had travelled to London on the town’s business, and his expense account shows that, whatever the transactions may have been, they were costly in boot leather. On at least two occasions, he was among those addressed in Privy Council letters concerning borough affairs. In June 1599 he was one of the 24 aldermen appointed for life in Leicester’s new charter.

Clarke’s return to Parliament was made despite a request from Thomas Heneage, the new chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, for the two nominations, and in disregard of the petitions of two local gentlemen for seats. Although some five or six aldermen felt that Heneage should be allowed one nomination, the majority of the assembly, with the consent of John Stanford I, the mayor, ‘agreed to have no ... strangers’ for their burgesses. Consequently, Stanford himself and Clarke were elected and it was agreed that Clarke was to have his ‘charges’, which amounted to £6 6s.

In his will, dated 15 Oct. 1599, Clarke asked to be buried in St. Martin’s, Leicester, or ‘elsewhere as God appoints’. He made numerous charitable bequests. His wife, Elizabeth, was to have all his lands and tenements for life, with remainder to certain of the children. His real estate included two houses and various gardens and orchards within the borough, and he is known to have rented chambers over the East gate from the corporation. To his children he left various sums of money: his wife, whom he appointed sole executrix, was to divide the residue of his goods with the children. Clarke died the day after making his will and was buried at St. Martin’s church on 18 Oct.

Leicster Mayors, 70, 77; Leicster Freemen, passim; PCC 7 Wallop; Leicester Recs. iii. 113, 116, 140, 155, 222, 265-6, 290, 293, 318, 368, 370, 414-15; APC, xx. 179-80; Neale, Commons, 173; PCC 7 Wallop.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.