Clark, Henry Maitland (1929–2012), politician, colonial administrator and businessman, was born on 11 April 1929 in Co. Londonderry, the middle of three children (two boys and a girl) of Henry ('Harry') Francis Clark and his wife Sybil Emily (née Stuart); the family resided in Rockwood, Upperlands, Co. Londonderry. His father was a director and later chairman of the family firm William Clark and Sons, a long-established linen manufacturer, and was a JP, high sheriff and MBE. His mother was of Antrim gentry stock, through which Henry was connected to several of the county's oldest families. Francis Stuart (qv) was a cousin on his mother's side and James Chichester-Clark (qv) on his father's.
After attending Shrewsbury School, Shropshire (1942–6), Clark studied economics and politics at TCD (1946–50), graduating with an honours BA. Active in college social life, he captained the Boat Club in 1950 and led the Trinity eight to a close second place in the Ladies' Challenge Plate at Henley. After graduating, he took the 'Devonshire course' for cadet administrative officers in the Colonial Service at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University (1950–51), and, after learning Swahili, served first as a district officer and then district commissioner in Tanganyika (1951–9).
With Phelim O'Neill (qv) standing down from his Westminster seat, Clark was selected in January 1959 as the UUP parliamentary candidate by a party convention in Ballymena. Despite his absence in Africa, his family connections on both sides ensured that he was no outsider in the small world of Antrim unionism. He was elected MP for Antrim North in the October 1959 general election with a 40,527 majority (an increase of 5,633) over his Sinn Féin opponent. In his maiden speech at Westminster (23 February 1960), Clark addressed the problem of unemployment in his constituency and urged government to promote regional development in Northern Ireland. Throughout his parliamentary career, he raised constituency concerns on employment, transport, industry and agriculture. After a tour of the Carlow premises of the Irish Sugar Company (summer 1961), he advocated the establishment of a sugar beet industry in NI. Addressing the London branch of Tuairim on north–south economic cooperation (March 1963), he urged the development of a Dublin–Belfast motorway and speedier customs checks at Newry. Always seeking to improve relations with the south, in September 1964 he played for a National Trust Northern Ireland cricket selection against opponents from the Irish Georgian Society at Castlecoole, Enniskillen, and the same year coached the Garda Boat Club crew at Henley. In March 1966 he spoke on a platform with Glenties co-operative pioneer James McDyer (qv) at a meeting of the North Antrim Co-op. He was the solitary unionist MP in the all-party Anglo–Irish group at Westminster, and privately urged the republic's rejoining the Commonwealth, noting that it would provide a useful outlet for the strategic abilities of Seán Lemass (qv) (Horgan, 147). The Irish Independent remarked that uniquely amongst unionist MPs he exhibited a 'spark of individuality' (21 March 1966).
During these years, Clark generally devoted a considerable amount of his time to Africa. In November 1960, while on a two-week fact-finding tour of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, he presciently predicted the union's demise; latterly, he supported sanctions against Southern Rhodesia. An optimistic supporter of Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, he travelled widely on parliamentary business in Africa and was Commonwealth observer at the 1967 Mauritius general election. He was chairman of the Conservative backbench east and central Africa committee (1963–6) and of the trade and overseas development subcommittee (1967–9), and a member of the Royal African Society (chairman in 1968) and the house of commons select committee on overseas aid (1969–70). He also chaired a subcommittee that heard evidence in situ from officials and politicians in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Pakistan (winter and spring 1969–70). As UK delegate to the Council of Europe and Western European Union (1962–5), he was rapporteur to the council's agricultural committee, and was a noted expert on the political economy of agriculture and food.
Clark retained his seat comfortably at the October 1964 general election, and in March 1966 was returned with 78 per cent of the vote, against 22 per cent for his sole opponent, the English Liberal Richard Moore (aide to the prominent Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe). As the civil rights movement gathered pace, and fissures opened within unionism, Clark took the moderate unionist side. He admitted that Northern Ireland was not free of anti-catholic discrimination, but argued in a letter to The Times that this was 'hardly surprising' in such a divided province (26 April 1967). He was, though, generally optimistic about the future, claiming that good will between protestant and catholic communities, allied to increased employment and economic development, would protect Northern Ireland's political and constitutional integrity. A leading civil servant placed Clark on the reformist wing of unionism, fitting 'comfortably into the general body of the Conservative party' (Bloomfield, 128), whose social and educational background Clark shared, and whose political values he generally espoused.
In February 1969 Clark was chief aide to Terence O'Neill (qv) at the Stormont general election in which the NI prime minister successfully defended his Bannside seat against Ian Paisley (qv). O'Neill's resignation of his seat in January 1970 precipitated an April by-election in which Paisley took the seat. Paisley then declared his aim of taking Clark's Westminster seat, and subjected him to a series of virulent attacks. He accused Clark of supporting the recent disbandment of the B Specials (in which Clark's grandfather, father and brother Wallace (qv) had all served as district commandants), and of being 'a relic of landlordism' (Ir. Times, 17 June 1970). He also emphasised Clark's concentration on African affairs and poor recent attendance record at Westminster. As the attacks mounted, Clark tacked somewhat to the right; he had already claimed that demands for equitable housing allocation and local government reform were being exploited by 'socialist revolutionaries and other enemies of Northern Ireland' (Ir. Independent, 22 September 1969). The radical nationalist Bernadette Devlin welcomed such developments, predicting that 'the Unionist party at Westminster will lose the civilised veneer of the Robin Chichester-Clark and Henry Clark variety' (Strabane Chronicle, 23 May 1970). In the June 1970 Westminster elections, Clark's position was weakened by Moore's decision to stand again, splitting the moderate vote. Paisley, who appealed strongly to rural and working-class protestants, won the seat with a 2,679 majority over Clark's 21,451 votes. The defeat marked the end of Clark's political career; his urbane, conciliatory approach would in any case have been ill-suited to the cycle of violence and hatred that followed.
Clark married (28 September 1972) Penelope Winifred Tindal, daughter of Nicolas Tindal (qv), at St Mary's church, Cadogan Street, London. His marriage to a catholic precipitated the end of whatever residual connection he still had with the Orange order. He had three children with Penelope, which whom he enjoyed a devoted, loving marriage, and was greatly saddened by her death from cancer in 1994.
While an MP, Clark had also been a director of Eric White PR Associates (1961–9) and Trident Industries, and was active in lobbying in the international food trade. He was later a wine merchant in London (1972–6) and head of information for the UK Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas (1977–89). While living in Tilsbury, Wiltshire, he wrote for the Avon Advertiser, retiring in 1997. He also busied himself with charitable works (such as serving on the executive committee of LEPRA (the British Leprosy Relief Association)) and led an active social life. Despite his long residence in England, he maintained an active network of friends in Ireland. A connoisseur of good food and drink, he also occasionally enjoyed hobbies such as golf, shooting, sailing and collecting antique furniture, and maintained his interest in rowing as an active vice-president of Dublin University Boat Club. His declared ambition was to 'live in a peaceful Ireland' (ITWW, 553). Henry Clark died in Wiltshire on 24 March 2012, and was buried locally after a funeral at Fonthill Gifford anglican church.
Constrained by the centrist unionism that was largely hegemonic until the late 1960s, Clark was unusual in exhibiting the entire gamut of Irish unionist identities: variously British, Irish, Ulster and imperial. His career was marked by the initial onslaught on patrician unionism by emergent populist Paisleyism, which would eventually eclipse it. With a broad and quirky range of interests, he was in many ways more at home in the Irish republic (especially in the remnants of its Anglo-Irish society) than in Northern Ireland.