CLIFTON, Sir Gervase, 1st Bt. (1587-1666), of Clifton-on-Trent, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. 25 Nov. 1587, o. (posth.) s. of George Clifton of Clifton-on-Trent by Winifred, da. of Sir Anthony Thorold of Marston, Leics. educ. St. John’s, (Camb. 1603; M. Temple 1607. m. (1) c.1608, Lady Penelope Rich (d. 26 Oct. 1613), da. of Robert, 1st Earl of Warwick, 1s.; (2) c.1614, Lady Frances Clifford (d. 22 Nov. 1627) da. of Francis Clifford†, 4th Earl of Cumberland, 1s. 4da.; (3) 5 May 1629, Mary (d. 19 Jan. 1631), da. of John Egioke of Egioke, Worcs., wid. of Sir Francis Leeke, of Newark, Notts., s.p.; (4) 17 May 1632, Isobel (d.1637), da. of Thomas Meeke of Wolverhampton, Staffs., wid. of John Hodges, Grocer, of London, s.p.; (5) c.1638, Anne (d.1639) da. of Sir Francis South of Kelsterne, Lincs., s.p., (6) 17 Feb. 1639, Jane (d.17 Mar. 1656) da. of Anthony Eyre of Rampton, Notts. 2s. 3da.; (7) 17 Dec. 1656 (with £4,000), Lady Alice Hastings, da. of Henry, 5th Earl of Huntingdon, s.p. suc. gdfa. 1588; KB 25 July 1603; cr. Bt. 22 May 1611.2
J.p. Notts. 1609-46, July 1660-d., liberties of Southwell and Scrooby 1664; sheriff, Notts. 1610-11; high steward, East Retford 1616-47, 1660-d.; county treasurer (north), Notts. 1625-6, dep. lt. 1626-46, c. Aug. 1660- d. ; commr. of array, Lincs. and Notts. 1642, oyer and terminer, Midland circuit July 1660; assessment, Notts. Aug. 1660-d., Nottingham 1663-4, loyal and indigent officers, Notts. 1662.3
Clifton was the most illustrious member of a family whose authentic history extends back to the reign of Henry II, and who provided one of the knights for Nottinghamshire in the Model Parliament. With an estate worth an easy £3,000 p.a. before the Civil War, he ‘generously, hospitably and charitably entertained all, from the King to the poorest beggar’, and was reckoned ‘an extraordinary kind landlord and good master’. His cousin Gervase Holles described him as
gentleman every way worthy of his ancient extraction and deserving ancestors, having lived with as much lustre and love in his country as any in my time whatsover, being of a nature. ... most affable and courteous, of a disposition most noble, of good erudition, and (throughout this long and damned rebellion) of a most unshaken and unsullied loyalty to his lawful sovereigns.
A Straffordian in the Long Parliament, he sat at Oxford during the Civil War and served as commissioner of array in the Newark garrison. His heavy fine of £7,625 was paid off by 1650, and he took no part in Cavalier conspiracy during the Interregnum. His son by his first marriage was described as ‘his father’s greatest foil’, and at the Restoration he offered £2,500 for a viscountcy with special remainder to his second son, Clifford Clifton.4
At the age of 73 Clifton was returned to his ninth Parliament as knight of the shire, and listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. On 3 July 1661 the House was informed that he had received the sacrament, though not at the time appointed. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 21 committees in eight sessions, of which the most important were for security against seditious practices in 1661 and for amending the Corporations Act in 1664. As a deputy lieutenant, he was officially thanked for his services in securing fanatics during the second Dutch war. His medical attendant in his last years was the county historian Thoroton, who describes how, though ‘of a sound body and a cheerful, facetious spirit ... he left the choicest things of this world with as great pleasure as others enjoy them. He received from me the certain notice of his near approaching death, as he was wont to do an invitation of good friends to his own bowling-green’. His deathbed was attended by the rector, his former chaplain, ‘to do the office of his confessor’, his children, ‘whom patriarch-like he particularly blessed and admonished, with the smartness and ingenuity of an excellent and well-studied orator’, and his friends, ‘who were not so sensible of his danger, because he entertained them after his usual manner’. He died of suppression of urine on 28 June 1666, and was buried with appropriate ceremony at Clifton, the mourners including all the principal nobility and gentry of the county, irrespective of politics.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: E. R. Edwards / John. P. Ferris
- 1. New writ.
- 2. C142/216/22; Vis. Notts. (Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xiii), 68; J. T. Godfrey, Notts. Churches, Rushcliffe, 57-58, 62; CSP Dom. 1656-7, p. 279.
- 3. Notts. County Recs. ed. Copnall, 9, 10, 13; Foedera , viii. pt. 2, p. 145; HMC Var. vii. 390, 395; A. C. Wood, Notts. in the Civil War, 175; Hutchinson Mems. 96.
- 4. Trans. Thoroton Soc. xxxvii. 36-40; Thoroton, Notts. i. 108-9; CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 11; Mems. Holles Fam. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, lv), 181; Keeler, Long Parl. 135-6; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1318; Cal. Cl. SP, v. 3.
- 5. HMC Var. vii. 428; Thoroton, Notts. i. 109; Add. 38141, f. 22; Dugdale, Diary, 109.