Dr. Adam Clarke (circa 1762–1832) was a popular early Wesleyan preacher, scholar, and author. He was born in Ireland, joined the Methodist movement in 1779, and preached his first trial sermon in 1782. Later that year, John Wesley appointed Clarke to serve as an itinerant preacher on the Bradford-on-Avon circuit, which included the town of Trowbridge.
Adam Clarke is remembered for his long and successful career as a minister, denominational leader, linguist, and Bible commentator. His accomplishments include serving three times as President of the British Conference and four times as President of the Irish Conference. Clarke died of cholera in 1832 and was buried in the cemetery at City Road, London, next to John Wesley.
Mary Cooke Clarke (1761–1837) was born in Trowbridge. She and her sisters, Eliza and Frances, became Methodists after a visit by John Wesley to their home. Mary Cooke maintained a close correspondence with Wesley until at least 1789. After her marriage to Adam Clarke in 1788, she also became a leader in the Methodist movement, a woman valued for offering spiritual counsel and pastoral care.
Adam and Mary Cooke Clarke's son, J. B. B. Clarke (–1855), published An Account of the Infancy, Religious and Literary Life of Adam Clarke, a three-volume biography of his father, in 1833. Daughter Mary Ann Clarke Smith (Mrs. Richard Smith) memorialized her mother’s life in the book Mrs. Adam Clarke: Her Character and Correspondence, in 1851.
The collection on the Cooke and Clarke families comprises seventy-three folders of manuscript letters, correspondence transcription letter books, personal and business writings, printed images, a published tribute to Mary Cooke Clarke, and three reels of microfilm copies of Clarke correspondence. These documents detail the domestic relationships and spiritual concerns of two generations of early Methodists in the United Kingdom with direct ties to John Wesley. A finding aid to the Collection on the Cooke and Clarke Families is available at Texas Archival Resources Online. For more information about these holdings, please contact Bridwell Library Special Collections.