Mr. William Clarke was born at Haghmon Abbey in Shropshire, in the year 1696; and received his grammatical education at Shrewsbury school, under the care of Mr. Lloyd, for whom he always entertained the highest regard. From Shrewsbury he was removed to St. John's college, Cambridge, where he became a fellow Jan. 22, 1716-17. His election at so early a period of life was owing to a number of vacancies, occasioned by the removing of several Nonjuring Fellows, in consequence of an act of Parliament. He commenced B.A. 1715; in 1719 became M.A.; and the reputation which he acquired when young was such, that he was chosen to be chaplain to Dr. Adam Ottley, Bishop of St. David's; but that Prelate dying in 1723, Mr. Clarke doth not appear to have received any advantage from the appointment. He was afterwards domestic chaplain to Thomas Holles Duke of Newcastle, in which situation he did not continue long, as, in 1724, he was presented by Abp. Wake, to the rectory of Buxted in Sussex. This promotion was conferred on him, without any solicitation of his own, partly on account of his extraordinary merit, and partly from a regard to the special recommendation of the learned Dr. William Wotton, whose daughter he had married.