Caribbean Family History

Clarkes of Barbados

In 1637 John Gedney, a Norwich weaver had sailed from Yarmouth, Norfolk to New England on the Mary Ann with his wife and three children. After his wife’s death he married a wealthy widow, Callie Clarke and acquired a tavern and small farm on the border of the townships of Salem and Lynn. The family grew rich through trading, shipbuilding and marriage.

In 1733 John Gedney‘s great-grandson, Gedney Clarke migrated from New England to Barbados. He was aged 22. He forged links with international trading networks that took in London, New England, Virginia, Barbados, Lisbon and Bilbao. By the 1740s he was one of Bridgetown’s leading merchants. He moved into land, acquiring huge tracts of land in Virginia as well as in Barbados, Dutch Guiana and Demerara. He was now in close partnership with Henry Lascelles. Lascelles & Maxwell were Gedney Clarke’s London bankers.

Gedney Clarke illicitly sold slaves in the Dutch colonies and even smuggled slaves into New York making use of the coves and inlets of Long Island where the family owned 200 acres. He supplied slaves to Henry Laurens of Charleston in exchange for deer to grace the Gedney Clarke lawns in Barbados.

In 1748 he succeeded Edward Lascelles as customs collector for Bridgetown. This position stayed in the family for the next 30 years despite allegations of bribery and other misconduct. His home at Belle Plantation was famously welcoming of military and colonial officials. He wined and dined and went into partnership with naval officers in order to prosecute the slave trade and profit from victualing and privateering. Clarke took prize cargoes in partnership with Edward Lascelles and Admiral Frankland.

In September 1751 George Washington, future first president of the United States, accompanied his half-brother Lawrence to Barbados. Lawrence suffered from tuberculosis and hoped for a cure in the warm island weather. They arrived six weeks later and 19 year old George kept a diary of his seven weeks visit. They were invited to stay with Gedney Clarke (related though Lawrence’s wife Anne) and Clarke did own 3,000 acres in Virginia at Goose Creek. At the time of the visit Clarke’s wife had smallpox and George was not immune so it was not sensible to stay with the Clarkes but they did "with some reluctance" accept the invitation to dinner on November 4th. He did contract smallpox but survived.

In 1755 Clarke’s son, Gedney Clarke Jr. was sent to Amsterdam to learn Dutch and become naturalized so that restrictions on the Clarke’s property ownership in the Dutch South American colonies could be avoided. He was 20 years old. In 1762 he married Frances Lascelles, daughter of Henry’s half-brother Edward, cementing the close business relationship between the two families.

In the mid 1700s The Society for Propagation of the Gospel Overseas lost a fortune through business dealings with spectacular bankrupt Gedney Clarke.



  1. Check all different spelling of the name you are searching for
  2. Always confirm data with entries in actual church registers



I struggled a bit to decipher the abbreviations used by Mrs. Watson and decided


A = St. Andrew

E = St. Peter

G = St. George

J = St. John

L = St. Lucy

M = St. Michael

O = St. Joseph

P = St. Philip

S = St. James

T = St. Thomas

X = Christ Church

b = born

Bt = baptism

c = circa

c = seen on christening record?

cl = common law

d = death

m = marriage

I = illegitimate

rem = remarried

ment = last will & testament


The white binders contain the family trees. The reference numbers in the database of names refers to families in these binders.


Ref. No. 1 - 58 1625 - 1725
Ref. No. A1 – A208 1725 - 1875
Ref. No. B1 – B23 1875 – 1975


Binder 1 = 1 – 58; B1 - B23
Binder 2 = A1 – A99
Binder 3 = A 100 – A20810/30/2014



You can search for burials, tombstone inscriptions and ministers on my website.

Please let me know of any errors or omissions and I will update the database.

Thank you,

Mary Gleadall