Sir William John Clarke, Bart., M.L.C., L.L.D., J.P., was the eldest son of the late Hon.W.J.T. Clarke, M.L.C.. He was born in 1831 in Tasmania and arrived in Victoria in 1850. He studied sheep farming on his father's Dowling Forest station for about two years, and then focussed on the management of the Woodlands station, in the Wimmera. He then returned to Tasmania, where he lived for the next ten years, working the Norton-Mandeville Estate in conjunction with his brother, Joseph. In 1862 he became manager of his father's concerns in Victoria, and on the latter's death in 1874 succeeded to his Victorian estates. Sir William was particularly interested in farming as a science, and supported scientific instructor R.W.E. M'Ivor, who lectured on agricultural chemistry. He also founded the Rupertswood Battery of Horse Artillery, Victoria. He was a generous philanthropist.

Sir William died suddenly while on his way to his office on 1 May 1897. He alighted from a tram in Collins Street, staggered and fell on to the roadway. He was carried to the Athenaeum Club but died before a doctor came. (The Queenslander, Brisbane, Saturday, May 22, 1897).

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