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George Smith Clark
Born 8 November 1861(1861-11-08)
Paisley, Scotland
Died 23 March 1935 (aged 73)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Resting place Belfast City Cemetery
Alma mater Merchiston Castle School
Occupation Shipbuilder
Years active 1877–1935
Religious beliefs Church of Scotland
Partner Frances Elizabeth Matier
Children Sir George Clark, 2nd Baronet (1882–1950)
Henry Douglas Clark (1889–1952)

Sir George Smith Clark, 1st Baronet DL (8 November 1861 – 23 March 1935) was a businessman and politician in Northern Ireland. George S. Clark was born in Paisley, Scotland the second son of thread manufacturer James Clark, and Jane Smith; both his parents were Scottish Presbyterians.

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Early life

Clark was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to Harland and Wolff in Belfast and, in 1877, opened his own shipyard on the river Lagan with Frank Workman. Clark's mother's brother, George Smith, was able to provide capital for this initial venture. In 1891 the firm became Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd. Charles Allan (a cousin of Clark's and a member of the Allan Line family also joined the firm). By 1902 the shipyard was 50 acres.

Workman Clark & Co: Rise and fall

During the war the shipyard concentrated on Admiralty work and it was for this that, in 1917, Clark received the Baronetcy of Dunlambert; his firm now employed 10,000. In 1920 the firm was taken over by the Northumberland Shipping Company the company's fortunes, however, did not remain. A debenture loan for £3 million was floated, professedly to advance the enterprises of Workman Clark in Belfast. Instead the proceeds were used partly to compensate the former shareholders of Workman Clark, and partly to purchase the shares of other companies which the Northumberland Shipping Company had acquired.

By 1927 the company was all but bankrupt. As a result the directors of the company, including Sir George were sued on the grounds that their 1920 prospectus was fraudulent. At the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal the directors lost their case; the case reached the House of Lords as Clark & Ors. v Urquhart v. Urquhart [1930] AC 28 The firm finally closed in 1935.

Personal life

In 1881 Clark married Frances Matier, and became a director of her family's linen firm; Henry Matier & Co. The couple had two sons. In 1907 he became Member of Parliament for North Belfast, retiring in 1910 to devote more attention to his business affairs. In 1913 the Workman Clark shipyard had assisted the UVF gun running. In 1925 Clark became a Unionist Senator in the Northern Ireland parliament. He remained in this position until his death at his home, Dunlambert, Fortwilliam Park, Belfast, on 23 March 1935. He also served as a Deputy Lieutenant and director of the Bank of Ireland.

He was buried on 26 March in Belfast City Cemetery. The virtues of company law are such that despite the ruin of Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd. Sir George died a millionaire.

Upon his death his son, Sir George Clark, 2nd Baronet, succeeded to the baronetcy; he was a Cambridge-educated naval architect and soldier (d. 1950).

References

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