William Clark

d. after 15 July 1786

3rd great-grandfather of Louise Underwood.
5th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Underwood and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Louise Underwood
     William Clark married Hannah. He died in New Castle County, Delaware, after 15 July 1786, when he made his will, and before 28 October 1786 when his will was proved.1
     Nothing has been found to prove or disprove that William's wife Hannah mentioned in his will was the mother of his children. That he bequeathed "to my well beloved Wife Hannah all the personal Estate she were indowed with at the time of our marriage, that is to say such goods as were moved home with me from her former place of residence," probably means she was previously married, and it's possible he was also.

     The birth order of his children is not known, but John must have been the oldest son as he was heir to the land and appointed by his father as executor of his will. The daughters were likely born in the order they were mentioned in the will, that is, Margaret, Rachel, Jane and Martha, and by the distribution order dated 20 May 1801, it appears that son William fell between Jane and Martha. Daughter Rachel was nineteen when the will was drawn, so Jane, William and Martha must have been minors in 1786. Furthermore, John must have been older than Rachel, so he and Margaret were the oldest children, order unknown. None of the daughters were married in 1786. Based on this information, a reasonable guess is that William Clark was no older than fifty when he died.

     In William Clark's probate file are two 1787 citations commanding John Clark, as executor of his father's will, to appear and show cause why he should not make an accounting of monies that came into the hands of his father as executor of the estate of William Clark, Miller, of Pencader Hundred. In his will dated 1 April 1783, "William Clark Miller" ("Miller" being his occupation) appointed "William Clark of Duck Creek" as one of his executors. Duck Creek Hundred in Kent County was the Hundred just south of Appoquinimink Hundred. Therefore, William must either have moved less than two and a half years of his death from Duck Creek to the Appoquinimink land he bought from William Ball and left by his will to son John, or "Duck Creek" refers to the stream rather than the hundred. As the stream was the boundary between Appoquinimink Hundred and Duck Creek Hundred at that time, it is possible, maybe probable, that William lived on the north (Appoquinimink) side of the creek. In 1875, that part of Appoquinimink Hundred was set off as Blackbird Hundred.

Additional Data
At the November session of the Levy Court of New Castle County, it was ordered that a road be laid out from the main road leading from Smyrna to Odessa, at a point near Smyrna, to Thoroughfare Neck. The road was surveyed 7 May 1780, and passed through lands at that time owned by Dr. Morris, Mary Hudson, Mrs. Dially, William Clark, Charles Carson, Isaac Daney, Michael Offley, Thomas Goldsborough, William Jordan, Edmund Edwards, Robert Appleton, Nicholas Barlow, George Ward, William Hudson, Arthur Allston, John Conner, John Bassett, Elijah Bartlett, Joseph Deakyne and Jacob Deakyne.2 Note that the children of Thomas Goldsborough were named in William Clark's will, but the relationship is not known to the writer.2

William Clark Esq.'s will dated 15 July 1786 in Appoquinimink Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, was proved 28 October 1786. Son John was named as heir and sole executor. He bequeathed to wife Hannah, to the children of Thomas and Rachel Goldsborough, viz. Eleanor Clark Goldsborough and William Clark Goldsborough, the remainder of his estate to be shared equally between daughters Margaret, Rachel, Jane and Martha, and son William.1 Click to view image

The estate of William Clark Esq. appears on an assessment list of the taxables of Appoquinimink Hundred for 1787, which at that time included all the territory between Appoquinimink and Duck Creeks, as returned by Elias Naudain November 28th of that year.3 On 16 July 1788, William Clark's estate appraised for an amount in excess of £1860 (exact figure illegible).1

Our William is positively identified as "William Clark of Duck Creek" by his son John, as executor of his father's estate, being called upon in 1787 to show cause why he should not make an accounting of monies that came into the hands of his father as executor of the estate of William Clark, Miller, of Pencader Hundred, who had, in his will dated 1 April 1783, named "William Clark of Duck Creek" as one of the executors.

Although there were several adult William Clarks in New Castle County in the 1770s and '80s, I have found only one who lived in Appoquinimink Hundred, and more specifically, was of Duck Creek in Appoquinimink Hundred.

Four New Castle County wills help to partially reconstruct Clark relationships, thus providing clues for further research:
William Clark [our William]. Appo Hd. July 15 1786. Oct. 28, 1786. M. 221. Wife, Hannah; children of Thomas and Rachel Goldsborough, viz. Eleanor Clark Goldsborough and William Clark Goldsborough; four daughters, Margaret, Rachel, Jane and Martha; sons, John and William. Exc. son, John.
Rachel Clark married Thomas Goldsborough in New Castle County on 13 January 1775. She was probably William's sister, and the best father candidate is David:
David Clark. Yeoman. Appo. Hd. Aug. 18, 1766. Sept 30, 1766. Misc. I.62. Sons, John and William; dau., Rachel; wife, Eleanor. Exc. wife, Eleanor; son, William; Nicholas Vandike.
That David had a son William and a daughter Rachel does not prove he was the father of our William, and Rachel Goldsborough mentioned in William's will, but that David's wife was named Eleanor, and Rachel named a daughter Eleanor, makes it a strong possibility.
William Clark. Miller. Pen. Hd. Apr. 1, 1783. Apr. 18, 1785. M. 99. Wife, Ann; daughters, Ann and Margaret; grandson, William Clark Frazier; sisters, Ann and Sarah Clark of Ireland; brother, Joseph Clark; brother-in-law, William Stewart. Exc. William Clark of Duck Creek, William King of Phila., John King of Middletown.
William Clark of Pencader Hundred is thought to have been our William's uncle, and therefore a brother of David providing David has been correctly identified. The circumstantial evidence is in his daughter Ann's will:
Ann Clark. Pen. Hd. Apr. 21, 1785. May 18, 1785. M. 121. Stepmother, -------; sister, Margaret; uncle, Joseph Clark; children of uncle, William Stewart; Margaret Clark, dau. of cousin, William Clark of Duck Creek; Kezia Lamson, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Stewart, Rebecca Clark, dau. of Alexander Clark, dec'd; nephew, William Clark Frazier. Exc. William Clark of Duck Creek.
Proof that Ann Clark of Pencader Hundred was the daughter of William of Pencader Hundred is in the stated relationships of those persons mentioned in both wills. Most interesting to this research, however, is that from her will we find that William Clark of Duck Creek was her cousin. Admittedly it's impossible to say with certainty that William was her first cousin, but logic says she would have called William's daughter Margaret "cousin" instead of the daughter of her cousin if the relationship had been otherwise.

Taking everything into consideration, it appears that in the earliest generation of which we have any knowledge, there were at least three brothers, David, William and Joseph, and three sisters, Ann and Sarah of Ireland, and the wife, given name unknown, of William Stewart. That there were sisters still in Ireland indicates that David, William, Joseph, and probably the unnamed sister Stewart were Ulster immigrants.

Tentatively identified in the second generation are John, [our] William and Rachel, children of David of Appoquinimink Hundred, and Ann, Margaret and the mother of William Clark Frazier, children of William of Pencader Hundred.

David Clark, possible father of our William, was born in 1709, died 2 September 1766, and was buried in Duck Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery at Smyrna, Kent County, Delaware. At least four other Clarks are buried in that cemetery. William, born 1719, died 1776, was born too early to have been David's son, and died before our William. There are two Johns. One was born in 1758 and died in 1767. His birth year makes him a good candidate to be our William's son, but if he was, William had two sons named John who were probably living at the same time. The other John buried at Duck Creek was born 1 February 1761, and died 14 August 1821. He was governor of Delaware 1817-1820. According to several online bios, he was the son of William Clark, and the grandson of David. Also buried there is a child, David Clark, born 1758, died 29 December 1769. He was also the right age to have been a child of our William.

One online source says that Governor John Clark was buried in the same plot as his father and grandfather, but it also says of his father:
He was a militiaman during the Revolutionary War. He served seven years in the Delaware State House. Captain William Clark raised a Company of 75 men from the neighborhood and led them at the Battle of Monmouth in the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Monmouth occurred on June 28, 1778, at Monmouth, New Jersey. It was a blistering hot day. Scores of soldiers collapsed or died from sunstroke.

British General Clinton had decided to move his Base of Operations back to New York. General George Washington attacked Clinton at the Monmouth Court House. Holding the field, the Americans were able to claim victory.

At the Battle of Monmouth, Captain William Clark lost 40 out of his 75 men.
If accurate, the William Clark (1719-1776) buried at Duck Creek Presbyterian Cemetery could not have been John Clark's father, and as already noted, that William was born too early to have been the son of David.

The same online article includes some interesting information about the Clark land:
In September, 1754, Issac Norris of Philadelphia and Issac England of New Castle County were granted a tract of 1,008 acres in Blackbird Hundred on the northside of Duck Creek. The plantation was called “New Bristol”. Issac England’s grandparents Joseph and Rebecca England had received confirmation of the patent from William Penn on May 19, 1701. Governor Edmund Andros had granted the original patent to Captain Edmund Cantwell on March 25, 1676.

David Clark bought “New Bristol” from Issac England in 1755, at the highest point of “New Bristol”; Clark erected the brick plantation house.

David Clark came from northern Ireland and settled first in the Pequa Valley, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He then moved to Rothwell Landing, north of Smyrna Landing on Duck Creek. Here he became a farmer and joined the militia. David Clark died on September 2, 1766, at the age of 57 years.
As previously noted, Blackbird Hundred was set off from Appoquinimink Hundred in 1875, and remains in New Castle County. Names, location and dates all fit nicely with the little that has actually been proven about our Clark family of Delaware. Hopefully it is enough to advance further research efforts.

Children of William Clark


  1. [S264] William Clark Esq. will (1786), New Castle County Register of Wills Probates RG#2545: roll 77, State of Delaware, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Dover, Delaware.
  2. [S1183] J. Thomas Scharf, The History of Delaware, 1609 - 1888, 2 volumes (Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888), 2: 1023-1028.
  3. [S1183] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, 2: 1015-1023.