Born in New York City on March 17, 1815, Clarke was a member of one of the city's oldest and most prominent families. He graduated from Geneva College in 1835, studied law, and was admitted to the bar.
Upon returning to the United States, Clarke joined the United States Army, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry in March, 1841. He transferred to the 2nd Dragoons in September, 1841. During his service Clarke took part in the Seminole Wars in Florida.
Clarke resigned from the Army in December, 1843 and practiced law in New York City and Westchester County. Also in December, 1843 he married Alletta Remsen Lawrence, a member of another prominent New York family.
He was an unsuccessful Whig candidate for election in 1852 to the Thirty-third Congress. In 1854 he was elected as an Opposition Party candidate to the Thirty-fourth Congress, holding office from March 4, 1855 to March 3, 1857. He declined renomination as a Republican in 1856 and resumed practicing law.
At the start of the American Civil War, Clarke went to Washington, D.C. to offer his services. He was commissioned as a Colonel, and was an organizer of the 1st New York Cavalry Regiment (Lincoln Cavalry), which was commanded by Carl Schurz, Clarke, and then Andrew T. McReynolds.
In mid-1861 there were news accounts indicating that Clarke would be commissioned a Brigadier General and assigned to command a school for cavalry in Westchester County. This plan does not seem to have been carried out, since there are no further references to Clarke's promotion or the operation of a cavalry school in Westchester County.
In retirement Clarke lived in England for several years. He later resided in Florida during the winter and an island on Schroon Lake, New York during the summer. He died on June 20, 1884 at his summer home, Isola Bella, in Schroon Lake. He was interred in a vault at First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Newtown, New York.
- Thomas William Herringshaw, Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography, 1909, page 635
- U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, application for Bayard Clarke, retrieved via Ancestry.com, October 5, 2013
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 28-29, 1897, page 61
- Rossiter Johnson, John Howard Brown, editors, The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, 1904
- Chez A. Guyot et Scribe, Almanach National: Annuaire Officiel de la République Française, 1840, page 3
- John Howard Brown, editor, Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, 1900, page 36
- Benjamin Homans, editor, Army and Navy Chronicle, Volumes 12-13, 1841, page 312
- Francis Colburn Adams, The Story of a Trooper, 1865, page 7
- U.S. Army Adjutant General, Official Army Register for 1843, 1844, page 52
- New York Society Library, NYC Marriage & Death Notices 1843-1856, retrieved October 5, 2013
- New York Times, The Election: The General Result, November 4, 1852
- New York Times, The State Election: Latest Returns, November 10, 1854
- New York Times, Letter from Hon. Bayard Clarke Declining a Renomination, October 21, 1856
- New York Daily Tribune, Volunteer Incidents, April 26, 1861
- New York Times, The Cavalry Regiment: A Note From Major Bayard Clarke, July 3, 1861
- John Watts De Peyster, Personal and Military History of Philip Kearny, 1870, page 480
- New York Times, The Great Rebellion: Important News from Washington, August 4, 1861
- Galveston Weekly Civilian and Gazette, News by Telegraph, August 13, 1861
- Shreveport Daily News, News by Telegraph, August 9, 1861
- New York State Military Museum, Transcript, Civil War Newspapers, Westchester County, New York, retrieved October 5, 2013
- The Daily Saratogian, Telegraphs, August 5, 1861
- 1871 England Census, entry for Bayard Clarke, retrieved via Ancestry.com, October 5, 2013
- Reading Eagle, The Schroon Lake Meteorite, October 5, 1880
- New York Times, Col. Bayard Clarke Dead, June 22, 1884
- New York Times, Funeral of Col. Bayard Clarke, June 28, 1884
- Newtown Register, Funeral notice, Alletta Remsen Lawrence Clarke, May 30, 1878
- Stephen Z. Starr, The Union Cavalry in the Civil War: From Fort Sumter to Gettysburg, 1861-1863, 1985, page 69
- Burdick & Allen, War Papers Read Before the Commandery of the State of Wisconsin, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Volume 3, 1903, page 65
- Thomas Kearny, General Philip Kearny: Battle Soldier of Five Wars, Including the Conquest of the West, 1937, page 170
- New York Times, Local Military Movements, July 2, 1861
- United States Congress. "Bayard Clarke (id: C000457)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Bayard Clarke at Political Graveyard
- Bayard Clarke at Find a Grave
|United States House of Representatives|
Jared V. Peck
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district
John B. Haskin