Charles Clark: The Journey

On 10th September 1835, Charles Clark married Dinah Jowett, daughter of John Jowett, at Coley Church.

The family emigrated to New Zealand, sailing on the Indus from Gravesend and arriving in Nelson in 1843, brought out from England by the New Zealand Company with all sorts of promises, the company had not been all that realistic and failed, leaving the settlers impoverished at times.

The voyage was disastrous; the drinking water and food became putrid and had to be thrown overboard. The passengers and crew were without food for several days, and many of them, including children, died.

In the 1850s, they moved from the deprivations of the new Nelson Province The family were shipwrecked and lost everything on the way to Auckland. They were saved by the Maori and clothed by local missionaries. After a 9 day walk to complete the journey, they arrived to live in very primitive surrounds. At one point Charles was not able to work due to injury, so Dinah took in laundry.

Dinah never forgot those days and in later life, as a very well-off lady, she invested in one of the first mechanical washing machine companies.

The Clarks did very well from farming in the Northern Wairoa area in the North Island of New Zealand; in the 1860s, this was a rather risky boat crossing, ox cart trundle and a lot of walking was involved. They had 3 stores and the rights to the Post Office, a small fleet of boats delivering the goods on the river, and quite a large holding of land. Their large house and barn was where the inaugural ball was held, also the first school and Sunday school were set up.

Dinah taught herself to read and write and the family became fluent in Maori to deal with the local native inhabitants.

Dinah was a suffragette in New Zealand and the year before she died, New Zealand granted suffrage (the first country in the world to do so). Her considerable wealth seems to have always been kept separate to Charles' enterprises, thus in her Will [1894] she allocated land and money specifically to her daughters and daughters-in-law for their sole use.

She socialised with the movers and shakers in early Auckland, and was renowned for her hospitality at her property in the north

© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 13:12 / 19th January 2022 / 4095

Page Ref: X282

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