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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Melville Clarke

Born: Robert Melville Clarke 
Other: Captain Robert Melville Clarke 
Dates:  1834, 15 December - 1878, 1 February
Active:  India
A Captain in the Bengal Army and amateur photographer. His early photographs of Kashmir taken in 1861 illustrated his book ‘From Simla through Ladac and Cashmere’ printed in 1862.

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Amateur, India
BIOGRAPHICAL: Son of Thomas Robert Clarke, gent., and Charlotte Eliza his wife, of St Paul’s Terrace; baptised 8 Jan 1835 at St Pancras, London; received a classical and military education at Charterhouse School. Nominated a cadet for the East India Company’s Bengal Cavalry by EIC Director John Masterman MP at the recommendation of his father, who was then described as ‘in the Home Service of the Company. Examined and passed the Military Committee at East India House, London, 21 Jul 1852.[1]
SERVICE RECORD: Cornet 28 Jul 1852; arrived at Calcutta 3 Dec 1852 and posted to 2nd Bengal Cavalry; transferred, at his own request, to 3rd Bengal Cavalry 15 Jan 1853; passed examination in colloquial Hindustani 30 May 1854; granted leaved to visit hills north of Dehra Dun on sick certificate 10 Oct to 15 Dec 1854; Lieutenant 28 Sep 1854; passed higher examination in Hindustani 10 Aug 1855; Acting Adjutant, 3rd bengal Cavalry 14 Jan 1857, confirmed 23 Jan; appointed Adjutant of the Police Depot in the Western Provinces of Bengal; Captain 10 Mar 1858 and transferred to newly raised 1st Bengal European Light Cavalry; placed at disposal of the North West Provinces (Agra and Oudh) 6 Apr 1858 for employment with Police, and made second-in-command of the battalion at Meerut 17 Apr 1858. [2] Furlough to England on sick certificate for 18 months from 11 Jan 1860.
When the EIC’s European forces were given the option, in 1861, of discharge or of transfer to the British Army, Clarke remained with the 1st Bengal European Light Cavalry, which became H.M. 19th Light Dragoons (Hussars). He appears as a Captain, with regimental rank dated 30 Jul 1862. Last shown in list for Jan 1871.[3]
Acted with outstanding bravery during Mutiny: his Mutiny Medal was sold at Sothebys Arms and Armour Sale 12 Sep 1989.
PHOTOGRAPHIC: 37 of Clarke's photographs are pasted into his From Simla through Ladac and Cashmere, 1861 (Calcutta, 1862). Contributed photographs to The people of India (8 vols, London, 1868-75).Showed views of Cashmere at the Bengal Photographic Society meeting of Apr 1862.[4] 

  1. Λ Cadet Papers IOR/L/MIL/9/227 ff.676-84. 
  2. Λ Bengal Service Lists IOR/L/MIL/10/54,56,59,61,65, and 67. 
  3. Λ Bengal Army Lists and British Army Lists. 
  4. Λ Journal of the Bengal Photographic Society, vol.1, no.2, 1 Sep 1862, p. 32. 

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