John Linnett Clark seated
OLD INHABITANT'S DEATH
A ZEPPELIN'S FALL RECALLED
Peldon has lost an extremely popular old inhabitant in the person of John Linnett Clark who passed away on Saturday June 5.
Quick at repartee, 'sharp as a needle' of a generous and merry disposition, he went about counting his blessings and was frequently heard to say 'We're not half thankful enough'. Mr Clark was a native of Salcot, having moved there at an early age, but considered himself a Wigborough man He started work when only 10 years old, and for the first month took charge of 700 sheep in a 44 acre field, being on duty from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. and receiving a weekly wage of 4s. Although he never travelled far, the whole of his 85 years being spent within a radius of five miles, he met with a great adventure on his 65th birthday, which was on September 24 1916, when a Zeppelin fell at Little Wigborough barely a mile from the house he was occupying on the Abbot's Hall estate, being then in the employ of the late Mr Charles Hutley. On the same day, a nephew and his wife, Mr and Mrs George Clark also of Wigborough had the gift of a daughter, who was fittingly named Zeppelina. A link between age and youth was formed by the dual celebration, year after year, of this historic birthday, and the old gentleman was received into the home of these relatives on the death of his wife, some 14 years ago.
Later however, his thoughts turned to Peldon, where he had many friends, and he finally settled at Sunnyside with Miss Claydon and her brother, Mr. H Claydon. Here he found it easy to fraternise with 'the people called Methodists' who gave him a hearty welcome. A member of the Church of England, he would set out in good time for morning service at the parish church, and in the afternoon and evening he would put in an appearance at the little Wayside Chapel. On certain special occasions he deemed it fitting to attend his own parish church at Great Wigborough, notably on harvest festival and Armistice Sundays.
Mr Clark was a well-known figure at Colchester Market, where he watched the sheep sales with a large measure of understanding having held several posts of responsibility as a shepherd. His two chief interests outside working hours were books and music, and until too infirm to do so, he toured the village at Christmas time as a solo carol singer, playing his own accompaniments on a concertina. It was noticed that his health began to fail about 18 months ago, and he went out very little during the winter. His popularity was evidenced by the large number of friends who visited him. Rectors of two parishes, churchwarden, Methodist stewards and class leader, relatives and neighbours, all were welcome, and Peldon and Wigborough residents by whom he will be greatly missed, will have many happy recollections of contacts with him. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Powell and Mason of Abberton. Essex County Standard 12.6.1937
John Linnett Clark was born in Tollesbury although he spent much of his life in Great Wigborough. His parents were Elizabeth Linnett (1817 - 1888) from Layer Breton and William Charles Clark of Salcott born in 1814.
In the 1861 census John L is 9 years old. The family are in Great Wigborough, Peldon Road, near Abbots Hall Farm and father William is a shepherd aged 47. Elizabeth is 44 and they have another son, Samuel Clark who at 12 is already an agricultural labourer (b in Salcott). In 1871 the family seem to be in the same house.
By 1881 John aged 29 has married Selina aged 27 and they have a son William C aged 3. The address is Maldon Road, Great Wigborough.
In 1891 they are living near Abbott's Hall, John is a shepherd aged 39, Selina is given as born in Gt Wigborough as is son William, now 13. They have John's widowed father, William aged 77 living with them and also John's nephew George Clark who the family took in after his mother died. He was the man whose wife gave birth to a little girl whom they named Zeppelina born on the night in 1916 when the Zeppelin came down in Little Wigborough.
John Linnett Clark's contribution of 6d towards the 1895 restoration of the font at St Stephens, Great Wigborough is recorded above in the parish records
In 1901 again near Abbott's Hall John aged 49 is a stockman on a farm, Selina is 47, their nephew George is 15 and they have adopted a boy, Bertham Juniper (Clark?)
1914 Abbott's Hall, Gt. Wigborough
John Linnett Clark in pony and trap with Sam, the eldest son of George Clark, whom John had raised. The lady on left is his wife, Selina and on right is George's wife Emily. The girl is Mary and boy Reginald, Sam's siblings. Abbott's Hall is now the HQ of the Essex Wildlife Trust.
In 1911 at Abbott's Hall Farm John aged 59 is now a farm bailiff. He and Selina have two adopted children, Bertham and Amelia. George is now married to Emily and they have two children.
In 1935 John reached his 84th birthday and his life was celebrated in the local news column of the Essex County Standard
ZEPPELIN ECHO On Tuesday September 24, Mr John Leonard [sic] Clark, a respected old-age pensioner, reached his 84th birthday. For 19 years the date has held a special significance, as his 65th anniversary was ushered in with the fall of a zeppelin at Little Wigborough, barely a mile from a farmhouse on the Abbots's Hall Estate, which he occupied at the time, being in the employ of the late Charles Hutley. On the same day a nephew and his wife, Mr and Mrs George Clark, also of Wigborough, had the gift of a daughter, who was subsequently named Zeppelina. Mr Clark is a native of Salcott, and has spent the whole of his life within a radius of five miles. He started work on a farm at the age of ten, and for the first month took charge of 700 sheep in a 44 acre field. He was on duty from 4am to 9pm receiving a weekly wage of 4s. Mr Clark carried out his usual birthday programme on Sunday, being a more convenient day than Tuesday. In the morning he was conveyed by motor car to the parish church at Great Wigborough, and after attending the service was given a lift to his nephew's house for dinner. In the afternoon, accompanied by Miss Zeppelina, he visited other relatives at Goldhanger and was brought back to Peldon in time for evening service at the Methodist Chapel. Until too infirm to do so, it was his custom at Christmas time to tour the village as a solo carol singer, playing his own accompaniments on a concertina. In these days he is contant to stand on Sumnday mornings at the garden gate of the cottage called Sunnyside, where he has lodged for the past ten years, and the sight of his happy face, as he handles his instrument, frequently elicits a smile from passing motorists. Essex County Standard 28.9.1935
Sunnyside where John Linnet Clark spent the last twelve years of his life was situated next to the village shop. It was later demolished and Beavers Lodge built.
Peldon History Project