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Clow joined the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in 1813. In 1815 he was appointed as a chaplain for the East India Company. He returned to Scotland in 1833 and then headed to Hobart, Australia, in 1837. On Christmas Day that year, he conducted the first Church of Scotland service in the colony on Australia. By the following year he had settled in Melbourne and purchased 2 acres (8,100 m2) of land on Swanston Street.
In August 1838 he leased the Corhanwarrabul Run, an area which covered approximately 36 square miles (93 km2), on which he built a settlement called 'Tirhartruan', and an out-station called 'Glen Fern'. He sold the lease to John Wood Beilby in 1850. Tirhartruan was located on the north side of Wellington Road, just east of Dandenong Creek, and was the subject of an archaeological dig in the 1970s. The electoral ward of Tirhartruan in the City of Knox is named after Clow's homestead.
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