Sir Ellis Immanuel Innocent Clarke, TC, GCMG Former President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Sir Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke was the second and last Governor-General of Trinidad and Tobago and the first President of Trinidad and Tobago. He was one of the main architects of Trinidad and Tobago's 1962 Independence constitution.
Early life and eduaction
Ellis Immanuel Innocent Clarke was born at the corner of Pelham and Megler Streets, Belmont, on 28 December 1917. He attended St Mary’s College, where he won an island scholarship in Mathematics. He pursued his tertiary education at London University. He was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, London in 1941. Mr. Clarke was married in 1952 to the former Ermyntrude Hagley, a bookkeeper from Grenada whom he met in 1949 while she visited Trinidad. They have two children Peter and Margaret Ann.
Not long after his return to Trinidad and Tobago, Ellis Clarke was called to the Bar in his homeland, engaging in private practice from 1941-1954. Between 1954 and 1962 Ellis Clarke held several posts in the Colonial Government: Solicitor General, deputy Colonial Secretary, Attorney General and Constitutional Adviser to the Cabinet. After the attainment of Independence, Ellis Clarke became a foreign diplomat, holding numerous posts between 1962 to 1976, sometimes simultaneously, including Trinidad and Tobago’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Upon proclamation of Republican status on 24 September 1976, the post of Governor General became obsolete. Following a meeting of the Electoral College, as provided by the constitution, Ellis Clarke was elected unopposed, as President becoming the first President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago-an office he held until 1987.
Ellis Clarke was involved in the draft constitution, culminating in his attendance at the Marlborough House Conference held in Venezuela from 28th May to 8th June 1962.
In his legal career he soon showed notable ability. After 13 years of practice he was drafted into the Civil Service as Solicitor General from 1954-56, later as Deputy Colonial Secretary.
Designated as Chief Justice, Clarke never took up the post and was instead asked to be Constitutional Adviser to Cabinet from 1961. It was the period before the 1962 Independence and his were the skills that helped draft the Constitution and iron out details with the Opposition Democratic Labour Party.
After the retirement of Sir Solomon Hochoy as Governor General, Clarke by then Sir Ellis took over. He served two terms as President. This was from 1976, serving the country through the death of Eric Williams in 1981 and the defeat of the long ruling PNM in 1986.
President Clarke has excelled at being the head of state; there is little doubt of that. By his presence at functions of the various religions he has showed the way to tolerance.
Honours and awards
He was bestowed the Companion of St. Michael and St. George in 1960, and made a Knight Bachelor in 1963. He was one of the first to be awarded the country’s highest honour: the Trinity Cross in 1969. He also holds El Gran Cordon, the highest national award in Venezuela. UWI has given him an honorary doctor of laws degree.
On 24 November 2010, Clarke suffered a massive stroke. He died on 30 December 2010, two days after his 93rd birthday. Sir Ellis was laid to rest on 7 January 2011. A private funeral was held at the Church of the Assumption on Maraval Road in Port of Spain, followed by a State Funeral at the National Academy for the Performing Arts Building situated at the Queens Park Savannah. Sir Ellis was buried at the Clarke Family Plot at Laperouse Cemetery.
Parliamentary Personalities - Sir Ellis Clarke
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Date of Birth
28 December 1917
Place of Birth
Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago
Date of Death
30 December 2010 (aged 93)
Place of Death
Trinidad and Tobago
Governor-General of Trinidad and Tobago: February 1973 - 1 August 1976
President of Trinidad and Tobago: 1 August 1976 - 13 March 1987
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