CLIFFORD, Henry (by 1513-77), of Boscombe, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1513, s. of William Clifford of Boscombe by Elizabeth, da. of Richard Vaus or Vaux of Odiham Hants. m. (1) by 1541, Mary, da. of Sir Anthony Hungerford of Down Ampney, Glos., 3s. 5da.; (2) by 1568, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Carent of Toomer in Henstridge, Som. suc. fa. by 1537.2

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. 1543-54, 1573/74-d., q. 1554; escheator, Hants and Wilts. 1550-1; commr. relief, Wilts. 1550, oyer and terminer 1554.3


Henry Clifford was at least the third of his line to live at Boscombe, near Amesbury in the south-east of Wiltshire, and to hold the Devonshire manor of Kingsteignton, in the neighbourhood of Newton Abbot. He may also have inherited lands in Gloucestershire, since his paternal grandfather had died in 1520 holding the manor of Oldbury in that county. This branch of the Cliffords was descended from the ancient northern family which received the earldom of Cumberland in 1525 and Henry Clifford was the last of a series of kinsmen upon whom the 2nd Earl entailed his estates in 1555.4

Although Clifford was granted livery of his inheritance only in November 1539, he was presumably of age when he negotiated with Richard Cromwell alias Williams and Edward North for the sale of Kingsteignton on 4 July 1534; the transfer does not seem to have taken place, for he and his son vested the manor in feoffees in 1568. His mother appointed him an executor of her will, which was proved on 8 May 1537; in it she referred to money owed to her by ‘my son John Clydesdale’, and when John Clydesdale alias Hidden made his own will on 10 Aug. 1549 Clifford was again an executor. Clydesdale’s son Anthony Hidden later sued his ‘natural uncle’ Clifford and his godfather Sir Anthony Hungerford over a leasehold.5

It was not, however, their links with the Hidden family which had brought Hungerford and Clifford together; Clifford had married his daughter at latest by 1541, and four years before that Hungerford was holding the manor of Burdens Ball, near Wilton, from his future son-in-law. Burdens Ball was an estate of the manor of Fugglestone, which lay in the borough of Wilton and passed to the crown on the suppression of Wilton abbey. In 1544 the King granted Fugglestone to (Sir) William Herbert I who had acquired the site of the abbey itself, and three years later the new owner bought Burdens Ball from Henry Clifford. This transaction did not, however, end Clifford’s link with Wilton or with Herbert, soon to become Earl of Pembroke, for in 1563 he was still the earl’s tenant at Burdens Ball and Fugglestone.6

It is to his connexion with Herbert or Hungerford, or both, that Clifford’s election in 1547 for Salisbury, a city in which he seems to have owned no property, must be ascribed. The election was not a straightforward one, for he and his fellow-Member John Thynne supplanted the two townsmen, William Webbe II and Robert Griffith, whom the city had chosen on 26 Sept. 1547. Such a reversal of a civic decision argues some powerful external constraint, and its application on behalf of Thynne is all but proof that this pressure originated with the Duke of Somerset. Why, or indeed whether, the Protector’s support was extended to Clifford is not so clear. He is not known to have enjoyed the duke’s favour, but his father-in-law Hungerford had served with Somerset (and Thynne) in the Scottish campaign of 1544 and in 1559 Clifford himself was to be active on Thynne’s side in the disputed shire election; he may thus have been Thynne’s choice rather than Somerset’s. Yet it remains possible that Herbert had a say in his election, perhaps under an arrangement by which the two local magnates each took one nomination, although in that case Herbert might have been expected to choose him again in February 1553, when Salisbury granted Herbert the nomination of both Members.7

It was not until Queen Mary’s fourth Parliament that Clifford reappeared in the Commons. Nothing is known of his conduct during the succession crisis of 1553, but his reappointment to the commission of the peace, and inclusion in its quorum, at the outset of the new reign imply that he had not become politically suspect. Unlike his Hungerford kinsmen, however, he did not sit in the early Parliaments of the reign, and when he did so in 1555 it may well have been one of them, Robert Hungerford, then sheriff of Wiltshire, who helped him to procure a seat at Great Bedwyn. This Parliament saw a vigorous campaign of opposition led by Sir Anthony Kingston and Clifford’s name is included in a list of its members. The implication that he was losing sympathy with the Marian regime is strengthened by his behaviour in an episode 18 months later, when, according to Foxe, he was instrumental in saving the lives of two heretics who had been condemned by the bishop of Salisbury. Sir Anthony Hungerford, who was then sheriff, was besought by his son-in-law to have no hand in the executions and accordingly left Salisbury, after taking legal advice. The bishop’s chancellor pursued him, only to be told that he had no proper authority to require the sheriff’s assistance, and the prisoners remained in gaol until Elizabeth’s accession.8

Clifford died on 22 Aug. 1577, having made his will on the previous 17 July. His descendant Sir Thomas was raised to the peerage in 1673 as Baron Clifford of Chudleigh.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 47 Welles, 46 Martyn, 5 Crumwell, 6 Langley; E150/209/9; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 39, 94; Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 195; Hoare, Wilts. Ambresbury, 115.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 91; 1553, pp. 348, 359; 1553-4, pp. 25, 28.
  • 4. Wilts. Vis. Peds. 39; Vis. Devon, 195; C142/35/110; CPR, 1554-5, p. 247; Hoare, 114-15.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, vii. xiv; CPR, 1566-9, p. 237; PCC 5 Crumwell, 14 Coode; Req.2/24/113.
  • 6. VCH Wilts. vi. 41; Salisbury corp. ledger B, f. 309v.
  • 7. Hatfield 207; ledger B, f. 301v.
  • 8. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; Foxe, Acts and Mons. viii. 509.
  • 9. PCC 6 Langley; C142/180/24.