George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe

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

Lord Sydenham of Combe

George Sydenham Clarke
16th Governor of Bombay
In office
18 October 1907 – 5 April 1913
MonarchEdward VII (1907–10)
George V (1910–13)
Preceded byLord Lamington
Succeeded byLord Willingdon
10th Governor of Victoria
In office
28 September 1901 – 24 November 1903
PremierSir Alexander Peacock (1901–02)
William Irvine (1902–03)
Preceded byThe Lord Brassey
Succeeded bySir Reginald Talbot
Personal details
Born4 July 1848
Lincolnshire, England
Died7 February 1933 (aged 84)
London, England
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1868–1901
Battles/warsEgyptian Expedition
Mahdist War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George

Background and education

Clarke was born in Lincolnshire, and educated at Haileybury, Wimbledon and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.[1]

Military career

Clarke entered the Royal Engineers in 1868, served in the Egyptian Expedition and as Assistant Political officer during the following Sudan expedition.[2]

From 1885 until 1892 Clarke was secretary to the Colonial Defence Committee, for which he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1893. He was also secretary to the Royal Commission on Navy and Army Administration in 1888, a commission which did much to improve cooperation between the two services. In the late 1890s he was Superintendent of the Royal Carriage Department at Woolwich.[2]

Colonial administrator

Clarke retired from the army in October 1901,[3] when he had been appointed Governor of Victoria the previous month.[4] He arrived in Melbourne and took the oath of office on 11 December 1901,[5] and served in Australia until 1903. He served in India as Governor of Bombay between 1907 and 1913. A fine statue of his stands at the entrance Institute of Science College, located next to the Oval Maidan (Oval Park), South Bombay. In 1913 he was elevated to the peerage as "Baron Sydenham of Combe", of Dulverton in the County of Devon,[6] named after one of the ancient seats of the ancient de Sydenham family which originated at the manor of Sydenham, near Bridgwater in Somerset. 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..".[7] Clarke was also the first Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Originally a Liberal, he became increasingly radical in his later life and was, in the 1930s, a prominent supporter of fascist causes.

Views on fortification

In 1892, while serving as secretary of the Committee for Imperial Defence, Clarke published Fortification: Its Past Achievement, Recent Development and Future Progress. The book was influential in shaping the British view of military fortification.[8] 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 peacetime (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.[9]


  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Sydenham, George Sydenham Clarke, 1st Baron" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York.
  2. ^ a b "New Governor of Victoria". The Times (36529). London. 9 August 1901. p. 5.
  3. ^ "No. 27367". The London Gazette. 22 October 1901. p. 6851.
  4. ^ "No. 27360". The London Gazette. 1 October 1901. p. 6395.
  5. ^ "Latest intelligence – The Governor of Victoria". The Times (36636). London. 12 December 1901. p. 5.
  6. ^ "No. 28721". The London Gazette. 23 May 1913. p. 3668.
  7. ^ James Lees-Milne The Enigmatic Edwardian: The Life of Reginald, 2nd Viscount Esher, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1986, p. 146.
  8. ^ Hamilton-Baillie, J.R.E., Fort 2003 (Fortress Study Group), (31), pp. 6–40
  9. ^ The Complete Peerage, Volume XIII – Peerage Creations 1901–1938. St Catherine's Press. 1949. p. 174.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Brassey
Governor of Victoria
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Talbot
Preceded by
The Lord Lamington
Governor of Bombay
Succeeded by
The Lord Willingdon
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Sydenham of Combe
Indian Empire Society

The Indian Empire Society was a London-based lobbying organization, formed in 1930 to promote the cause of the British Empire in India.

The Society came into being at a meeting in July 1930 held in the Caxton Hall, London, at which the prime mover was Sir Michael O'Dwyer, a former Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, following correspondence between the 4th Marquess of Salisbury and George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe. Its activists were mostly former members of the Indian Civil Service and included several former provincial governors of British India, among them O'Dwyer, Lord Meston, and Sir Reginald Craddock. Its principal goal was to resist the policy of Indian constitutional reform which successive British governments of the 1930s had begun to pursue.

Field Marshal Sir Claud Jacob, a former Commander-in-Chief, India, was chairman of the Society's Executive Committee.The society's aims, and its membership, often overlapped with those of the India Defence League. The society frequently cited its deep concern for the fate of the Indian masses under a democratic system. A joint letter (written in 1933) sums up the society's attitude:

"As retired Government servants, with long experience of Indian conditions, we are convinced that a too rapid advance towards self-government would be fraught with the utmost danger, not only to British trade and commerce, but also to the security and happiness of the 350,000,000 of our Indian fellow-subjects." (published in the Times, 1933)

The society's first public meeting was held in Westminster in July 1930. The first president was Lord Sumner. Winston Churchill joined in October 1930 and made speeches to the society on a number of occasions.. Other prominent members included:

Lord Ampthill, former governor of Madras

Sir Hugh Barnes, former governor of Burma

Sir Reginald Craddock, former governor of Burma

Sir Mark Hunter, former official in Burma

Sir Michael O'Dwyer, former lieutenant governor of Punjab

Sir Charles Oman, historian

Sir Louis Stuart, former chief judge of Oudh

Lord Sydenham, former governor of Bombay

Waris Ameer Ali, former district judge in the United Provinces of Agra and OudhCorrespondence and papers of the Society from 1930 to 1948 are held in the Bodleian Library's Special Collections and Western Manuscripts section.

James Strachey Barnes

James Strachey Barnes (1890–1955) was a British theorist of Fascism.

John Tilley (diplomat)

Sir John Anthony Cecil Tilley, GCMG, GCVO, CB, PC (January 1869 – 5 April 1952) was a British diplomat. He was British Ambassador to Brazil from 1921 to 1925, and Ambassador to Japan from 1926 to 1931.

List of Old Rossallians

The List of Old Rossallians lists persons who attended or are associated with the Rossall School in Lancashire.

The Britons

The Britons was an English anti-Semitic and anti-immigration organisation founded in July 1919 by Henry Hamilton Beamish. The organisation published pamphlets and propaganda under the imprint names of the Judaic Publishing Co., and subsequently the Britons Publishing Society. These entities engaged primarily in disseminating anti-Semitic literature and rhetoric in the United Kingdom, and bore hallmarks of the British fascist movement. Imprints under the label of the Judaic Publishing Co. exist for the years 1920, 1921, and 1922.

The Institute of Science, Mumbai

The Institute of Science (formerly known as the Royal Institute of Science (RIS)) is an institution of postgraduate education and research located in Mumbai, India. It is managed by the Government of Maharashtra and is currently affiliated to the University of Mumbai. It is accredited with an 'A' Grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in March 2014.Established in 1920, its research centers around all branches of science including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology, Mathematics, Biochemistry, Bio-Technology and Environmental studies. In Maharashtra state and University of Mumbai, some programs like the Masters in biochemistry, were available only in the Institute of Science until recently. It offers M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs and currently does not offer undergraduate programs. Though the institute offers M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs of the University of Mumbai, due to the autonomy granted to the institute, the admissions to these programs are managed separately by the institute but examinations are conducted by the University of Mumbai and degrees are awarded by the University of Mumbai.

'The Institute of Science, Mumbai' was founded by George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe. The Institute's buildings were constructed using funds from private donations. Sir Cowasji Jehangir donated money for the Institute's east wing. The construction of the west flank of the main building was paid for by Jacob Sassoon, and the east flank by Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim, Bt. Vasanji Mulji donated funds for the library.The foundation stone for the institute, designed by George Wittet, was laid in 1911. Completed in 1920, the building stands next to the Gothic structures of the Rajabai tower of University of Mumbai and the Elphinstone College.Built in yellow Kharodi basalt stone from the district of Thane, this elegant, curving facades of the two wings, joined by the flat central dome of the Cowasji Jehangir Hall, manage to harmonize with the 19th century buildings surrounding it. Protected from the street by the many-arched facades are a botanical garden, herbarium and a park.

The Institute of Science is awarded the status of "College with potential for Excellence" by the UGC in 2009 and awarded generous grants for infrastructure development.

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