Lawrence Gilbert Clarke
1896-1976

This directory contains information and documents about Kate and Anthony Clarke's 7th child Lawrence, and his family.

For details of Kate's life, see her own directory.

For details of Kate’s very interesting first husband Anthony, including his families with other wives, see the AJCheeper/Clarke directory.


Early Life

Lawrence Gilbert Clarke was born on 6 May 1896, at 282 Ivydale Road, Lewisham.

He was the 7th child of Anthony Jacques Cheeper/Clarke (then 58) and Kate Davidge (then 31), and the 24th child and 6th last child of Anthony overall.

Anne found his Baptism record on 17 Oct 1897 at Waverley Park Mission, Nunhead, jointly with siblings 3-8. But the entry records him as Laurence, and born 28 May 1896 (22 days later than the entry on his birth certificate).

During his first 8 years, the family is known from certificates and census entries to have been in South London – Croydon in 1897-88, in South Norwood in the 1901 Census entry (page 1, page 2), and Lewisham again in 1904.

It appears that Lawrence had to start work in 1908, at the age of 12, to help support the single-parent household, including Rudolf (4), Vera (10) and Queenie (11). By that stage it seems that Anthony (by then 70) had moved on (with another of his ex-servants). It's likely that Lawrence had little or nothing to do with his father from about 1904 (at 8).

Very little is known about Lawrence's life between 1904 and 1924. He was 18 at the outbreak of WWI and 22 at the end of it.


Mid-Life

On 9 Jul 1924, Lawrence married Elizabeth Beatrice Devereaux, who was a spinster aged 21 (and hence born in 1902-03), of 34 Campsbourne Road, Hornsey, father Samuel Devereaux (deceased) Bricklayer (Journeyman). They married at the Register Office, Edmonton, Middlesex.

But Anne has found Elizabeth in the 1901 census, implying she was born in 1900. The age on the marriage certificate appears to be simply an error. Elizabeth was younger than Lawrence and she was old enough to make her own decision to marry. (Mis-recording of people's age on a marriage certificate can usually be traced to one of those problems)

Moreover, Elizabeth's birth certificate (once Anne had found it!) showed her date of birth as 26 Nov 1900, at Wood Green. Her father was Samuel, General Labourer, and her mother Beatrice, formerly Armstrong.

Lawrence and Elizabeth's Marriage Certificate shows Laurance [spelling also used by his daughter in a letter 81 years later, in 2005] Gilbert Clarke, aged 26 [which was wrong, because he was 28], Bachelor, Barman, of 146 Sirdar? Road, Wood Green, father Anthony Clarke (deceased [correct; he'd died in 1918, at 81]), Book Publisher's Traveller [also correct - in fact surprisingly precise given how little we would have assumed Lawrence knew about him].

The Witnesses were R. Clarke [presumably Lawrence's younger brother Rudolph, who we later discovered was usually called Rue, then 20], and K. Davies. [In 2004, Anne Kratzmann surmised that this may have been Lawrence's mother, Kate. That insight – one among many, less successful leads she followed – enabled Anne to discover Kate's marriage and death certificates].

Laurance and Elizabeth had one child, Dorothy Joan Clarke, born 13 Jan 1925. (The spelling is shown as 'Lawrance' on the Birth Certificate, yet another variant). The Father's Occupation is shown as Barman, and the address of the informant (L.G. Clarke, Father), is shown as 4 St James Mansions, Muswell Hill [not yet Wood Green].

Added to that, Elizabeth's maiden name is shown as Burgess, not Devereaux. [My original thinking was that perhaps Elizabeth's mother's maiden-name was Burgess, and she was not married to Samuel Devereaux, but feigned so for the purposes of Elizabeth's marriage certificate. But when Anne acquired Elizabeth's birth certificate, her mother was shown as Beatrice Devereux (implying that the parents were married), formerly Armstrong. Perhaps the use of Burgess was a mistake by the Registrar?].


Later Life

Dorothy said that Lawrence and Elizabeth lived in Wood Green from 1924 until 1937. Then they were at 6 Winkley Court, St James Lane, Muswell Hill, nearby in North London, from 1937 onwards. [The recurrence of St James suggests this may have been a return of some sort, e.g. to a new development on the land of a former employer?]

At some stage at least, judging by his Death Certificate, Laurance was a park-keeper.

Kath and Ken both remember Laurie/Laurance staying at Hayling Avenue (presumably during or soon after WWII, given that Ken was only born in 1935 and would have been unlikely to remember an earlier visit).

Here is a photo of Lawrence & Elizabeth c. 1973?

Laurance died on 10 May 1976 in Whittington Hospital Islington (of prostate cancer). [When Anne acquired Lawrence's Death Certificate, she discovered Dorothy's surname – because she was the informant – which then enabled the re-connection of the two families. Following chats with Kath and Enid in the 1990s, Roger had wrongly transliterated it as de Croix, one of many furphies suffered during this reconstruction].

Elizabeth died in 1981, also still in Muswell Hill.


Dorothy Clarke-Docwra

Dorothy Joan Clarke was born on 13 Jan 1925, in Muswell Hill.

Kath, Enid and Ken remember meeting Dorothy once, presumably during the War, when Dorothy came down to Portsmouth. Kath says that they went to a dance together, and that Dorothy's beau John Docwra, was less than pleased about it; but Dorothy doesn't remember the event.

Dorothy remembers her grandmother Kate (Clarke-Davidge), as "a very frail lady, she was lovely, but she died when I was 5 years old" [according to our records 7, in the last quarter of 1932].

"All I can remember my dad telling me that his farther, Kath's 1st husband, was a book publisher and they were quite well off, they had servants and nannys to look after them, but his dad went off with one of the servants or nannys and left Kath to look after 13 children without any money at all so my dad had to leave school at 12 years old to go to work to help his mum". [The mention of 13 rather than 11 children raises the possibility that Kate Clarke-Davidge may at some stage have had to assist with 2 of the Clarke-Terry children. In 1908, the Davidge children were 4-23 years old, the last 5 under 14. The Terry children were 19-25, and Emma had died two years earlier. The Wanless children were 29-35, and the Spilsbury children 35-48, and all of the older ones had doubtless long since learnt to fend for themselves].

"[Kate's] second husband was a blacksmith, he wasn't a very nice man, he use to knock my gran about, he use to drink a lot and go home and knock gran about when he got drunk, my mum and dad use to take me to gran once a week and she always had black eyes and bruzes on her arms, he was a bully".

Dorothy was 14 when WWII broke out. During the Blitz, 1942-44, "the air raids as you must remember were bad, so we didn't visit people, it was go to work, come home, straight in the air raid shelters. I and my friends did that for 3 years, we never went to bed in the house for 3 years as the raids in London were realy bad".

Of her dad's brothers and sisters, Dorothy remembers:

[So, all-told, Dorothy could remember 6 of Lawrence's 10 full siblings, but thought there had been two more that we have no evidence for. (Maybe Laurance lost count!). The missing ones are numbers 2-4 – Ernest b. 1886, Kate b. 1887 and Fred b. 1888; and number 10 – Lord Oswald b. 1900 - d. 1901].

Dorothy knew she had lots of cousins. But the tumult of the Blitz (including 3 years sleeping in an air-raid shelter), and the long, grey aftermath that lasted well into the 1950s, meant that all contact was lost. It appears that no pair of Clarke families was ever in contact between early 1945 and recent attempts starting in 2005. [Rue's son David suggested in 2008 that some families did sustain contact through the period, although David's the only person we've come across who appears to have actually been able to name the whole family.]

On 17 March 1945, Dorothy married John Docwra. He was also born in 1925. Docwra is a fairly rare surname, derived from the villages of Dockray in Cumbria. Among the guests were Dorothy's Uncle Will and his wife (Willie Tony and Queenie) – so our sides' contacts lasted at least that long!

John had been in the Fleet Air Arm in WWII, one of the 2,200 men aboard the 30,000-ton aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, reaching the rank of CPO. Whether he was involved in the Atlantic action in 1941-42 (the Bismarck pursuit and Russian convoy protection), I'm not sure. But he was on board during at least some of the long and ultimately 'victorious' Pacific campaign, including when she was damaged, and repaired in Australia.

John and Dorothy had one child, John Docwra junior, born 15 December 1949, at Crouch End, London. They moved to Mill Hill, a better part of North-West London.

John then joined Norwich Union Insurance as an assessor. They moved to Norwich (about 1955?), and stayed there. From (at least the mid-1970s onwards?), they lived at 39 Broom Ave, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich NR7 0BA.

John was involved in the motor industry, including with Colin Chapman at Lotus, and with early work in the 1950s on fairing/cowling for motor-cycles.

In retirement, John built from scratch a substantial set of scale models of RNLI boats (Royal National Livesaving Institute), about 4 feet in length. He was recognised by RNLI for the work, and they were acquired for museum purposes.

John senior died on 13 April 1997.

The following photos were mostly provided by Lawrence's grandson, John Docwra, in June 2005, and a few by Lawrence's daughter, Dorothy Clarke-Docwra:


John Docwra Junior

John Docwra junior was born on 15 December 1949, at Crouch End, London.

John met Elizabeth at (York? Leeds?) University. They married on 11 August 1973.

They've been in Queensberry, south-west of Bradford in Yorkshire (since the 1980s?). Both are school-teachers / principals. John has done an amount of photography.

They have one son Oliver, b. 1984.

The following photos were mostly provided by Lawrence's grandson, John Docwra, in June 2005:


This a page within Roger Clarke's Family Web-Site

Contact: Roger Clarke and/or Anne Kratzmann

Created: 2 October 2005; Last Amended: 6 Sep 2006, 17 Aug 2009 (1901 Census), 24 Feb 2016 (baptism)