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Clarke, Janet Marion (1851–1909)

A wave of deep regret became general both in the town and district, on Wednesday, when it became known that the advent of that day had marked the death of that good and estimable woman, Janet Lady Clarke. Though it was known to all that the deceased had by no means enjoyed the best of health for some time, few thought that her end was so near.

Some six years ago while on a voyage from England, Janet Lady Clarke contracted Maltese fever, a kind of malaria, which developed at Colombo. Although she made a partial recovery and was able to resume her place in society, and her charitable work in the city, she was conscious that her health had been undermined.  

Some two years ago she became weaker, and for the past twelve months had been practically unable to leave her room. About June last year, an attack of pleurisy was followed by pneumonia and peritonitis, and though she had battled bravely through all, her health never again returned.

On Tuesday morning she became very ill, and later relapsed into unconsciousness. About midnight the patient seemed to be rallying, but passed peacefully away at 20 minutes past one on Wednesday morning without having regained consciousness.

Those who were present at the end were Miss Clarke, Miss Ivy Clarke, Mrs F. Hughes (sister of deceased), Sir Rupert Clarke and Captain Clarke.

Janet Lady Clarke was a daughter of the late Peter Snodgrass, M.L.A., and in 1873 married the late Sir William Clarke, some 18 months after the death of his first wife, to whose children she was governess at '"Rupertswood." Sir  William Clarke died in 1897, since which time she has resided permanently at "Cliveden," East Melbourne. From the time of her husband's death she has devoted herself to public work to such an extent that it was hard at times for her to adequately discharge her private duties. She was president of the Australian Women's National League, which body she was instrumental in organising. President and starter also of the Newsboys Society, and her work in this direction is inestimable.  

Janet Lady Clarke did much benefit to the poor within their own homes and in the institutions, and it may ever be said that never did she refuse time, money and influence to help on a worthy cause. Men, woman and children in poorest parts of the city have good cause to remember her kind and sympathetic nature, as her welcome charity has for a great number eased many a tight pinch, and the close of her career has caused a void that never can be filled.

The deceased lady leaves six children, the hon Mrs Robin Lindsay, Miss Vera Lily Montague Douglas Clarke, Miss Ivy Victoria Clarke, Mr William Lionel Russell Clarke, Mr Francis Greville Clarke, and Captain Reginald Hastings Clarke.

There are three stepchildren.—Sir Rupert Clarke, Mrs Fawkner Macdonald, and Mr E. E. Clarke. There are also eight grandchildren.

During her residence in this district the deceased lady made many friends, and on many an occasion her good and charitable nature led her to commit acts that never can be forgotten. Rich and poor, sick and helpless, all were treated alike in her goodness, being a constant visitor to the sick, and a welcome visitor in the homes of the poor, where her presence was always marked by the gift of some bounty.  

On her removal from Sunbury, the district lost a valued friend, one of the friends who are true and staunch, and her death has removed from the world one who has shed light into many a home, and one who ever had the welfare of the residents at heart. Vale Janet Lady Clarke, the queen of society, an angel to the sick, and the friend of the poor. The world can ill bear their loss, but their loss is your gain.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • will, Argus (Melbourne), 29 July 1909, p 7

Citation details

'Clarke, Janet Marion (1851–1909)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2018.

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