A tribute to the life
and legacy of

A. E. Clarkson

A. E. Clarkson

A. E. Clarkson was a South Australian business man, philanthropist, Methodist preacher and family man whose contribution to commerce and industry, and the championing of spiritual religion among men throughout Australia left a lasting impression to his death in 1936.

"His reputation as a man of business integrity and commercial honour extends beyond even the bounds of Australia... and in Mr. Clarkson we had the very personification of all that is best in British commerce."

  • Hon. S. W. Jeffries LL.B.
    Attorney-General and Minister of Employment (1st May 1936)

"A long series of remarkable incidents"

In 1889 at the age of thirteen, Albert Ernest “Ernie” Clarkson became a message boy at the glass and paint manufacturer of H. L. Vosz & Co.

Clarkson continued in his employment at H. L. Vosz, and by 1903 was the inducted with top merits as an Associate of the Institute of Accountants in South Australia.

The following year, Clarkson was appointed first Secretary and Manager of H. L. Vosz and continued to grow the business, travelling abroad for inspiration and knowledge.

In 1915 the company changed its name to Clarkson Ltd, and A. E. Clarkson was Managing Director until his death in 1936.

“Why should my accident of position in commerce make me an enemy of my fellow worker? 

My sympathies are all with the workers;
no silver spoon was put in my mouth; no worker ever toiled harder than I,

but in the process of climbing I have not
deadened my sympathies.”

“I thank Thee, Lord, for work;
From the dark, curse of idle days
I have been free; and now for toil
And daily task I give Thee praise;
Let heart, not hands, be saved from soil.”

Personal life

Albert Ernest Clarkson was born the son of Thomas Clarkson on April 10th, 1876 in Adelaide, South Australia, and educated at Flinders Street and Sturt Street Public schools.

A. E. Clarkson married May Egerton Lapthorne on August 18th, 1898.  They had ten children: five boys and five girls.

Read letters from their courtship here.

A. E. Clarkson with family

Christian conversion

As a lad of fourteen A. E. Clarkson, willful and fast forming wrong attachments was soundly converted through the pursuing love of God on July 4th, 1890.  Thankful to God for the kindly interest and nurturing of a dear friend, Clarkson grew in his understanding of faith and became a local preacher at the age of eighteen.

My first beginnings as a public speaker date from those early local preaching efforts

Over the ensuing years A. E. Clarkson gave of his time and energy to the work of the Methodist church, preaching at various circuits and an active leader within the Our Boys Institute (a junior branch of the YMCA), and by 1901 appointed as a member of the board of management.  In 1903, A. E. Clarkson became an officer of the Evangelical Lay Preachers’ Association of South Australia, and held other positions including superintendent of the Payneham Road and Semaphore Sunday Schools.

"A. E. Clarkson spent his life calling men

to face spiritual reality"

A. E. Clarkson–A Tribute by Cyril Wheaton
(The Australian Christian Commonwealth, May 1st 1936)

Footage taken at the wedding reception of AE Clarkson’s son Lloyd Clarkson.  At Balfours, Rundle St. Adelaide, 24th July 1928.  Filmed by Kodak Ltd.

A man of distinction and generosity

Throughout his career A. E. Clarkson was a pillar of influence across many industry, community, chartiable and government.
From the age of a young man, A. E. Clarkson threw himself into a ministry of service to the people of South Australia and beyond.

The timeline below shows the many appointments A. E. Clarkson was bistowed.

Grand Inspector of Lodges
Freemasons South Australia

Chamber of Commerce

Deaf and Dumb Mission

Chamber of Commerce

Board of Directors
News Ltd.

Chairman of Directors
News Ltd.

Prince Alfred Old Collegians’ Cricket Club

Chamber of Manufacturers

Rotary Club of Adelaide

Commissioner of 65th District
Rotary International

Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers’ Friends’ Society

Representative of State Government
Chamber of Manufatures Industries Committee

A. E. Clarkson

As a citizen he had rendered splendid service to the State, and had set a standard of business morality which was known beyond the borders of Australia.

Hon. Sir Richard Butler

Premier of South Australia, 1936

The passing of A. E. Clarkson

The Lord Called Him Home

In the early hours of Sunday 26th April 1936, aboard the motor ship Moonta, A. E. Clarkson disappeared from the deck during a sea journey from Adelaide to Port Lincoln to holiday with his son.

At 4:30am, a steward saw an elderly man on the deck wearing pyjamas and dressing gown, but the official paid little notice.

Some hours later his daughter and nurse, concerned with his absence raised the alarm finding Mr. Clarkson’s dressing gown at the entrance to the saloon.

The vessel was immediately turned around to make search, but the effort futile.

M.V. Moonta

He will be remembered even more as the champion of spiritual religion. In this department his foot was on his native heath.

A. E. Clarkson - A Tribute, by Cyril Wheaton

The Australian Christian Commonwealth, 1st May 1936

He radiated the message of Rote, fellowship and service. He extended goodwill and peace to all mankind

Rotarians' Tribute to Mr A. E. Clarkson

The Advertiser, Thu 30 April 1936

Mr Clarkson had given many years devoted service to the cause of the deaf in Australia, more especially in South Australia

The deaf advocate: the official magazine of the New South Wales deaf.

Vol. 6 No. 2 (Midwinter 1936)

A. E. Clarkson

Mr. Clarkson's death has left a great gap in many circles in Adelaide, but we can and must make his life and outlook on things an inspiration for better living.

The Late Mr. A. E. Clarkson

Prince Alfred College Chronicle, No. 175, May 1926

Mr. Clarkson by his life was a commanding figure in the commercial world; but it was in the religious circles that he was so well known...for he filled many Methodist pulpits...throughout the State.

Mr A. E. Clarkson dead.

Bunyip (Gawler, SA : 1863 - 1954), Friday 1 May 1936

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