Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Clerk John

Clerk, John, the son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuick, in Scotland, was born at Eldin about 1730. Though he never went to sea, he took a keen interest in nautical affairs, and wrote an essay On Naval Tactics, Systematical and Historical, with plates. In this work he suggested the operation of "breaking the line." adopted first by Rodney with such remarkable success in his victory over De Grasse in the West Indies (1782), and afterwards repeated on many occasions by Howe, Nelson, and other admirals. It has, however, been claimed for Rodney that he invented the manoeuvre independently, never having had any communication with Clerk or seen his book. Clerk died in 1812.