William Clarke (apothecary)

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William Clarke
Born abt. April 1609
Died aft. June 1, 1671
County of Leicester, England
Nationality English
Occupation Apothecary
Spouse(s) Unknown (1st); Katherine Babington Storer, widow (2nd)
Children Joseph, William, John, and Martha Clarke;
Edward, Arthur, Katherine, and Anne Storer (step-children)

William Clarke (c. April, 1609 – 1682) was an apothecary who provided lodgings for a young Isaac Newton whilst he attended the King's School in Grantham.

William was baptised on April 23, 1609. According to his will, he had a brother Joseph, but little else is known about his early life. William Clarke was married twice, first to an unknown woman who bore him two children - Joseph and William. His second marriage was to Katherine Babington, widow, who was from the same line as Anthony Babington. Katherine had several children from a previous marriage to Edward Storer, including daughters Katherine and Anne as well as sons Edward and Arthur Storer. Together, Katherine and William had two more children named John and Martha. All of his sons except John followed him into the trade of apothecary.

During the English Civil War, William sided with the parliamentarians. The town of Grantham was captured by Royalists on 23 March 1643[1] and on April 11 he was indicted for high treason. On 11 May 1643, however the town was recaptured by Oliver Cromwell[1] and Clarke was released. Following the war William attained wealth and landholdings, but lost much of his fortune following the restoration.

In 1654, William provided boarding to Isaac Newton as he would be attending the King's School with Edward and Arthur Storer. Newton's mother remained in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, which was about eight miles away from the Clarke residence. Many of Newton's biographers have noted that it was the lessons learned from Clarke that sparked Newton's interest in chemistry.

Clarke eventually retired to Loughborough in Leicestershire, leaving his business to his son, William. William apparently had some tensions with his family as his 1671 will contained a clause stating that: "If any be not thanken (sic) that person or persons shall have none".

According to the Clarke's grandson, Ralph Clarke, also an apothecary in Grantham, Newton left signs of his presence in the garret where he slept in the apothecary’s house on Grantham’s High Street: he carved his name into the boards, and drew charcoal drawings of birds and beasts, men and ships, and abstract shapes on the walls. Newton was said to have had 'a passion' for Clarke's step-daughter, Katherine Storer (later Mrs. Vincent).


  • E. T. Bell, Men of Mathematics (1937, Simon and Schuster)
  • H. Eves, An Introduction to the History of Mathematics (1976).
  • V. Horry, The Clark Family History. (not published)
  • J. D. Trabue, "Ann and Arthur Storer of Calvert County, Maryland, Friends of Sir Isaac Newton, With the Descendants of Clarke Skinner of Calvert County" (2004).


  1. ^ a b Manganiello, Stephen C. (2004). The concise encyclopaedia of the revolutions and wars of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1639-1660. Lanham, Md.: The Scarecrow Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-8108-5100-9. 

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