George Sydenham Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe

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George Sydenham Clarke

Birthdate: (84)
Death: February 7, 1933 (84)
Immediate Family:

Husband of Caroline Emily, Baroness Sydenham of Combe

Managed by: Michael Lawrence Rhodes
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About George Sydenham Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe

Wikipedia Biographical Summary

"George Sydenham Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe GCSI, GCIE, GCMG, GBE (4 July 1848 – 7 February 1933) was a British colonial administrator and British Army officer.

Background and education

Clarke was born in Lincolnshire. He was educated at Haileybury, Wimbledon and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.


Clarke was Governor of Victoria between September 1901 and 1903, and Governor of Bombay between 1907 and 1913. The latter year he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Sydenham of Combe, of Dulverton in the County of Devon. After his last term as governor he was a member of the committee that issued the Esher Report. The biographer of the Committee's chairman describes Clarke as " insensitive, clumsy, uncouth and infinitely boring man...". Clarke was also the first Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Originally a Liberal, he became increasingly reactionary in his later life and was, in the 1930s, a prominent supporter of fascist causes.

Views on fortification

In 1892, while sering as secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee, Clarke published "Fortification: Its Past Achievement, Recent Development and Future Progress". The book was influential in shaping the British view of military fortification. Clarke adhered to the 'Blue Water' school of thought which saw the Royal Navy as Britain's primary defence against invasion. Large scale permanent fortifications built in peace time (such as the Palmerston Forts) were seen as a waste of money. Instead Clarke advocated the use of small field fortifications which could be built cheaply and rapidly, such as those based on the Twydall profile. His view was based in part on the successful defence of Plevna in 1877 by Turkish forces using magazine fed rifles and earthwork fortifications. Also, in 1882 following the heavy bombardment of the forts at Alexandria by the British Mediterranean Fleet, Clarke as an engineer officer had been given the task of assessing the damage to the forts. He found the bombardment had had very little effect on the earthwork defences with only 20 of the 300 guns having been dismounted. Returning from the Mediterranean Clarke was appointed to a group of officers tasked with the planning of British coast defences overseas. Sydenham-Clarke's opinions on the strength of field fortifications were largely vindicated by the trench warfare of the First World War (1914–1918).

Personal life

On 1 June 1871, he married Caroline Emily, eldest daughter of General Peregrine Henry Fellowes, RM. She died on 9 December 1908. Their only child, Constance Violet Clarke, was born 26 May 1879 and died 21 March, 1909. He married for a second time in 1910, Phyllis Angelina Reynolds, daughter of George Morant of Shirley House, Carrickmacross, and the sister-in-law of his first wife's brother. Lord Sydenham of Combe died at his home in Onslow Square, London, in February 1933, aged 84, when the barony became extinct. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 April 2013, 15:36 UTC, <,_1st_Baron_Sydenham_of_Combe&oldid=548159707> [accessed 7 May 2013]

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George Sydenham Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe's Timeline

July 4, 1848
February 7, 1933
Age 84