Clarke, Michael (1820-1892)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1872

Early years

Michael was born on 2 Jul 1820 at Ford Forge, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland to parents George Clarke and Matha Middlemass, who were both Primitive Methodists.

When aged about 15, Michael was attending a PM chapel about five miles from home with his parents. There he heard a lecture by William Fowler on Temperance which produced a powerful impression on him and he immediately took the pledge. Shortly afterwards he was converted through the ministry of Samuel Butterwick. He soon became a local preacher.


Michael accepted a call to ministry and while he was in demand as a popular preacher, he struggled with his own feelings of unfitness for the work. He worked through this and in his second circuit was a part of a wide spreading and genuine revival.

In 1853 he offered to John Petty that he was willing to go anywhere and that year was appointed to Australia. On arrival in Victoria, Australia, Michael took the place of John Ride, who had superannuated.

During his five years in Melbourne membership increased from 186 to 687. He returned to Melbourne in 1874 to take up the roles of Book Steward, General Secretary and Superintendent of Missions.

During his vist back to England, Michael attended the PM Conference at Leeds and was elected Vice President in recognition of his missionary activities in Australia.


Michael married Jane Smith (1823-1901) on 10 July 1849 at Sunderland, Co Durham. Records show eight children.

  • George Foster (1850-1897)
  • Michael James (1851-1928)
  • Jane Smith (1854-1854)
  • Charles Theophilus (1855-1939) – a warehouse manager in 1930
  • John William (1857-1904)
  • Frederick Finch Campbell (1859-1861)
  • Martha Jane (1861-1867)
  • Edmund Alfred (1864-1875)

Michael died on 15 September 1892 at South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.


  • 1844 Sunderland
  • 1845 Shottley Bridge
  • 1847 Brompton
  • 1848 Carlisle
  • 1849 Kendall
  • 1850 Newcastle
  • 1852 Hexham
  • 1853 Melbourne (Australia) – arrived 6 December 1853
  • 1858 Castlemaine
  • 1862 Geelong
  • 1864 Melbourne
  • 1867 Campbellfield
  • 1870 Bendigo
  • 1873 Geelong
  • 1874 Melbourne
  • 1879 Richmond
  • 1880 to England
  • 1881 Melbourne ll
  • 1883 Sandhurst
  • 1886 Melbourne lll (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1872 (portrait); 1893/308

PM Minutes 1893/7

The Primitive Methodist, 1892, p 723

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p534

H B Kendall, Origin and History of the PM Church, vol 2, p177, 428

W Leary,Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits , 1990

Kirby Family Tree on

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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