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300 Years of Growth

William Clements (1733-1763)

1733William Clement (1707-82) was a Lecturer in Botany from 1733 to 1763.  He was appointed Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy from 1745 to 1759, Donegall Lecturer in Mathematics from 1750 to 1759, and Regius Professor of Physic in 1761.   Clearly something of a polymath, he was also evidently a good administrator as he served as Vice-Provost from 1753 to 1782; he may have been responsible for commissioning the rebuilding of Front Square while serving as Vice Provost.  But by far the most interesting facet of his life was that he was ‘secretly married’, though this was evidently an open secret.  He married around the time of his election to Fellowship – and at that time fellows were supposed to remain celibate (times have changed somewhat…).  His candidature for Provost in 1758 was turned down in favour of Francis Andrews, and Andrew’s always held the upper hand over his Vice-Provost as he knew of Clement’s marriage.  He became MP for Trinity College from 1761 but was not re-elected in 1768, Andrews giving favour to his friend Sir Capel Molyneux over his colleague.  Instead Clement became MP for Dublin City in 1771, a position he held until his death.
Clement was born in Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan and entered Trinity College in 1722.  His clandestine marriage seems to have dogged his life if not his career; his wife Mary retained the name of Montgomery from her first marriage to avoid detection, and it is uncertain whether or not they had any children. A Thomas and Francis Clement entered TCD in the 1760’s with recording birthplace or parentage as would have been normal, and there are other suspected children.  Only following Provost Andrew’s death in 1774 did Clement obtain a royal dispensation to be married.  Clement died in January 1782 and is buried in the College Chapel.


Last updated 24 February 2011 by