Biography of Sir Ellis Clarke
Sir Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke, an only child, was born on December 28 1917 into a middle class family from Belmont. He received his high school education at St Mary’s College, where he won an island scholarship in mathematics.
He pursued his tertiary education at London University where he obtained his LLB. He was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, London in 1941.
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 Advisor 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.
He was an ambassador for Trinidad and Tobago to the United States and Mexico. He was also Trinidad and Tobago’s Representative on the Council of the Organisation of American States. He also held the post of Chairman of BWIA from 1968 to 1973. He was appointed Governor-General by Her Majesty the Queen of England in 1972, and assumed duties on 31st January 1973.
Upon proclamation of Republican status on 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 from May 28 to June 8, 1962.
He was bestowed the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG.) in 1960 and made a Knight Bachelor (Kt Bachelor) in 1963. He was one of the first to be awarded this country’s then highest honour, the Trinity Cross (now known as the Order of Trinidad and Tobago) in 1969.
A great son of Trinidad and Tobago soil may he rest in peace.