Ernest Clark


Sir Ernest and Lady Clark inspecting a guard of honour at the Royal Hobart Hospital, 1940 (AOT, PH30/1/9892)

Ernest Clark (18641951), governor, was born in England, and became a lawyer. His distinguished career in the civil service began in 1881, and he became its head, 192125, and was knighted in 1924. Clark visited Australia in 192829 as a member of the British economic mission and impressed Tasmanian Premier Lyons, who may have been influential in Clark being offered the governorship of Tasmania in 1933.

Clark was a popular governor, whose term was extended three times. He went out of his way to help welfare, scientific and business groups, ably assisted by his wife Mary, whose interests included the Red Cross Society. Clark exceeded usual gubernatorial duties by occasionally acting as unofficial adviser on Tasmanian-commonwealth financial arrangements. Passionate about Tasmanian history, he became patron then president of the Tasmanian Society, the most active historical society. On his retirement in 1945, Tasmanians testified to his kindness, courtesy and warmth, describing him as 'a tower of strength' during the war, standing for 'high ideals and that is the best of all memorials'.

Further reading: ADB 8; Clark papers RS.7, Royal Society Collection, UT Archives.

Stefan Petrow