The origins of Château Clarke can be traced back to at least the 18th century, when the land was acquired by Tobie Clarke de Dromantin (1722 – 1771), who was of Irish origin, and who paid 94,000 livres for the privilege. At the time it had been known as Domaine de Granges, and it was of course during the tenure of this family that the name was changed. Tobie passed away very soon after acquiring the property, and the estate was thus handed down to his son Luc-Tobie Clarke de Dromantin (1761 – 1818). He was a lawyer and judge, and between 1811 and 1814 also acted as a conseiller to the Cour d’Appel in Bordeaux. It was Luc-Tobie who built the château, in 1810, and it was presumably at this point that the family’s name was permanently cemented to the property. Château Clarke was born.
Luc-Tobie had married and he had a son, Jean-Georges Luc Clarke de Dromantin (1801 – 1848) who presumably inherited the estate when his father died in 1818. He immediately sold the property, and it was acquired by the Saint-Guirons family. The man handing over the cash was Antoine de Saint-Guirons (1782 – 1860), who was mayor of Castelnau and already the proprietor of neighbouring Château Lestage. With this acquisition more than a century of family ownership began.
The Saint-Guirons and Abiet Families
At first glance Château Clarke appears to have subsequently passed through the hands of many different families, the name of the proprietors changing with great regularity. In fact this is false; the revolving door of names reflects the fact the property was largely passed to daughters who changed their names upon marriage. In 1860 proprietor Antoine de Saint-Guirons died, leaving a number of children. These were Charles de Saint-Guirons (1825 – 1888), Elisabeth Rosalie de Saint-Guirons (1810 – 1856), who married Henri Gratien Lynch, Marguerite Amanda Saint-Guirons (1812 – 1851), who married Pierre Amédée Lacoste and Marie Thérèse Honorine Saint-Guirons (1813 – 1881), who had in 1832 married Jean Arnaud Abiet (1773 – 1848).
The estate seems to have been passed to the latter of these, Marie Thérèse, who by the time she inherited was already a widow. Indeed, subsequent editions of Cocks et Féret, published in 1868 and 1874, tell us the property was in the hands of Veuve Abiet. This remained the case until 1881 which was the year she died, the estate then passing to her offspring. She and her husband had a daughter, Clémence Abiet (1833 – 1899), and there was also a son, Adalbert Abiet, but I can find no information on him at all, and I wonder if he may have died at a very young age. Clémence married Georges Merman (1820 – 1913) on January 25th 1853 and I suspect it was Clémence and Georges the authors of the 1886 Cocks et Féret were referring to when they described the proprietors as the héritiers de Madame Abiet.