GIFFORD, George II (by 1496-1557), of the Inner Temple, London and Middle Claydon, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. by 1496, 2nd s. of Roger Gifford of Middle Claydon by Mary, da. of William Nansiglos of London and Redfans, Essex, bro. of Ralph. educ. I. Temple, adm. 10 Feb. 1510. m. (1) by Feb. 1532, Margaret (d.1539), da. and coh. of John Bardfield of Shenfield, Essex, wid. of Robert Gedge (d.1528/31) of London; (2) by 1542, Philippa, da. of Robert Trappes of London, wid. of Edmund Shaa (d. Nov./Dec. 1539) of London, 1s. 1da. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.2
J.p. Bucks. 1532-d., commr. tenths of spiritualities Bucks. 1535, suppression of monasteries Leics., Northants., Rutland, Warws. 1536-9, chantries Herefs., Worcs. 1546, Beds., Bucks. 1548, relief, Bucks. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Bucks. 1553; particular receiver, ct. augmentations Leics., Northants., Rutland, Warws. Apr. 1536-54; esquire of the body by 1547; chamberlain, household of Anne of Cleves by 1557.3
Little has come to light about George Gifford’s formative years, but as a younger son he was destined by his father for the law. At the Inner Temple his time as a student was not marred by youthful indiscretion and his initial promise as a barrister is suggested during the 1530s by the inclusion of his name, together with those of David Broke, Thomas Bromley I, Nicholas Hare and Thomas Polsted, on a list of Inner Templars to whose chambers future barristers should be assigned or admitted. It was not, however, as a lawyer that he was to make his mark but as an administrator: from April 1536 the pattern of Gifford’s career was set by his appointment as one of the 17 particular receivers of the court of augmentations. Carrying a salary of £20 a year, with ‘profits’ and an allowance for travelling and other expenses, the post must have consumed most of his time during the 16 years he was to hold it: thus in 1540 he accounted for a sum of £8,717, of which owing to the heavy arrears and large allowances only £118 was eventually received in cash by the court. He certainly began with a spell of intensive work in the spring and summer of 1536: of the four counties allotted to him, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire occupied him throughout May and June, and Warwickshire until well into August. His recommendation that four houses in Northamptonshire should be spared was ill-received by the King, who suspected that he and other visitors were being bribed: that Gifford for his part was not above using such persuasion appears from his offer to Cromwell of £20 for help in obtaining for him a lease of St. James’s abbey, Northampton.4
It was while he was busy in Northamptonshire that Gifford learned of Cromwell’s nomination of himself and Thomas Pope to the borough of Buckingham as its Members in the forthcoming Parliament and of the electors’ compliance with the minister’s wishes. Although the King had asked for the re-election of the Members of the Parliament of 1529, neither John Hasilwood nor Edward Lloyd were acceptable to him as dependents of Anne Boleyn whose destruction the Parliament of 1536 was to complete, and Cromwell replaced them by two officials from the recently established court of augmentations. His election to Parliament placed Gifford in a quandary as his work in the midlands was not done, requiring possibly another 11 weeks to finish, and he wrote to Cromwell to ask whether he should return to London or continue his work. No reply survives, but he can scarcely have appeared in the Commons: after finishing his surveys in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire at the end of June he turned his attention immediately to Warwickshire, where he remained into August. He was also active in the later stage of the Dissolution; in 1539 he took the surrender of Nuneaton abbey and was busy at Coventry. In August of that year Cromwell stayed with the Giffords at Middle Claydon during the latter part of the King’s progress from Hampshire through the midland counties. Whether Gifford sat in the Parliament of 1539 or in the two remaining Parliaments of the reign is not known.5
Gifford was ready enough to use his position to obtain grants of monastic land. By he had acquired only moderate estates in Buckinghamshire where in 1542 his father had left him the family home, but he was leasing some ex-monastic land in Surrey; he had also come into property in Essex and London by his first and second marriages.6
During the During the reign of Edward VI, Gifford continued to be an active figure in the court of augmentations. His conduct in office was not above suspicion, and in 1552 the commissioners who investigated the court named him as one of the officials alleged to be corrupt. It is not known if he was required to clear his name, but he kept his receivership until the dissolution of the court by Queen Mary. The advent of Mary was doubtless welcomed by Gifford who inclined towards papism: Thomas Colwell, who died in 1593 for his faith, was to recall before his execution that as a young boy he was taken into Gifford’s household where he was instructed in Catholicism with Gifford’s daughters and taught Latin by a nun from Syon. In reward for his allegiance at the succession when he was among the first to join the Queen at Framlingham, Gifford received a pension worth £20 and the accolade of knighthood. He procured his election as one of the knights for Buckinghamshire in the spring of 1554. The Journal throws no light upon his activity in the House, but an incident in the following autumn when a servant of his was killed outside Temple Bar by a Spaniard may signify that Gifford joined the opposition to the Spanish marriage, a surmise supported by his apparent failure to re-enter the Commons during the last three years of his life.7
Gifford made his will on 20 Nov. 1556, providing for his wife, children and kinsmen. He appointed his wife, Thomas Colwell and several friends as executors and the prior of St. John of Jerusalem and Thomas Denton as overseers. He was not to die for another 13 months, but it was perhaps on account of ill-health that he did not attend the burial of Anne of Cleves on 3 Aug. 1557, when her receiver Thomas Carew officiated in his place. Although a description of the burial suggests that he had predeceased his mistress, he was still alive on the following Christmas eve when he added a codicil to his will, asking for difficult points to be ‘explained ... by two discreet Catholic divines’, but he did not have much longer to live, dying on 27 Dec. His death was commemorated at a month’s mind held prematurely on 17 Jan. 1558. His widow later married Richard Norton of Norton, Buckinghamshire, but on making her will in 1593, she asked to be buried at Middle Claydon beside her second husband George Gifford.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. LP Hen. VIII, x. 916.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 168; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 94; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), v. 38; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 8, f. 211v; PCC 2 Pynnyng, 34 Dyngeley; RCHM Bucks. 198.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, v, viii, xi, xiii, xiv, xxi; SP11/5, f. 27v; Stowe 571, f. 6; LC2/2, f. 61v.
- 4. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 118; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 46-47, 51 n.49, 89; LP Hen. VIII, x, xi.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, ix-xi, xiv.
- 6. Ibid. xi, xiii-xv, xviii, xxi; PCC 2 Pynnyng.
- 7. HMC Rutland, i. 307-8; Lansd. 156(28), f. 91; Rep. R. Comm. of 1552 (Archs. Brit. Hist. and Culture iii), 186; City of London RO, rep. 13(1), f. 155v; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 72.
- 8. PCC 2 Noodes; Excerpta Historica, ed. Bentley, 304; Machyn’s Diary, 163; N. Country Wills (Surtees Soc. cxxi), 120-1.