CLIFFORD, Henry, Lord Clifford (1592-1643), of Skipton Castle, Londesborough, Yorks. and The Strand, Westminster; later of Brougham Castle, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 28 Feb. 1592, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Francis Clifford* and Grisell, da. of Thomas Hughes of Uxbridge, Mdx.1 educ. Well g.s., Yorks.; Christ Church, Oxf. 1607, BA 1609; travelled abroad (France, Low Countries) 1610-12; academy, Paris 1611.2 m. 25 July 1610 (with £6,000), Frances (d. 14 Feb. 1644), da. of Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury, ld. treas. 1608-12, 3s. d.v.p. 2da. (1 d.v.p.).3 styled Lord Clifford 28 Dec. 1605; cr. KB 2 June 1610;4 summ. to Lords in his fa.’s barony 26 Mar. 1628;5 suc. fa. as 5th earl of Cumberland 21 Jan. 1642.6 d. 11 Dec. 1643.7 sig. Hen[ry] Clifforde.

Offices Held

Commr. oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1614-d.;8 j.p. Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. 1617-d., Yorks. 1619-d., Ripon and Cawood liberties, Yorks. c.1632-d., custos rot. Westmld. 1622-d.;9 ld. lt. (jt.) Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. 1618-39, (sole) Westmld. 1639-d., Yorks. 1642-3; commr. border offences 1618, 1619;10 member, Council in the North 1619-41;11 commr. wool prices, Cumb., Northumb. and Westmld. 1619;12 member, High Commission, York prov. 1620, 1628;13 commr. sewers W. Riding 1623-d., E. Riding 1625-d., swans, Midlands and North 1629;14 sheriff, Westmld. 1642-d.;15 commr. array, Cumb. and Yorks. 1642.16

Gov., Carlisle, Cumb. 1638-9; c.-in-c. northern counties 1639-42; col. of horse (roy.) 1642.17


According to a Civil War adversary, Clifford’s ‘peaceable nature’ and ‘amiable disposition’, brought him few enemies apart from his cousin Lady Anne Clifford, who nevertheless described him as ‘a tall and proper man, a good courtier, a brave horseman, an excellent huntsman, and well skilled in architecture and mathematics’. Before the consummation of his marriage to the daughter of lord treasurer Salisbury (Sir Robert Cecil†) in 1610, Clifford was sent on his travels under the guidance of William Beecher*, writing to his father-in-law from Paris to ask for a baronetcy for Sir Thomas Puckering*, one of his fellow students. At Flushing he made a favourable impression on the commander of the garrison, who wrote: ‘surely he is a very fine, noble gentleman, and doth promise, in my opinion, much good’.18 He was one of the chief mourners at Salisbury’s funeral, while his wife inherited an annuity of £400. He jousted before the king to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the reign, and was addressed as ‘my noble Spaniard’ by his kinsman Lord Wotton.19

Clifford always thought of himself as a Yorkshireman. Born and educated in the county, he resided there ‘with very much acceptation and affection from the gentlemen and common people’; but his father’s lavish hospitality and his own love of the turf and the bottle meant that ‘he could not live with that lustre, nor draw so great a dependence upon him as his ancestors had done’. In 1614 the Westmorland and Craven estates were still out in jointure, which involved Clifford and his father in bitter litigation with his late uncle’s widow. The hereditary shrievalty went with the title, however, which enabled his father, the 4th earl of Cumberland, to return him for Westmorland in 1614.20 Clifford played an insignificant role in the brief Parliament, partly because of his youth, but also because he apparently missed the first six weeks of the session. He made no recorded speeches, but was named to a handful of committees, including one to scrutinize a petition against the newly instituted order of baronetcy (23 May), another to consider a response to Bishop Neile’s allegation that the Commons had defied the prerogative in debating impositions (25 May), and a third for the Durham enfranchisement bill (31 May).21

Clifford took over the management of his patrimony in 1615, and in the following year he travelled to Westmorland to assert his rights to the family property against his cousin Lady Anne and her husband, the 3rd earl of Dorset. The king acted as arbiter of the dispute in person, with the result that Clifford and his father were able to give him sumptuous entertainment at Brougham on his return from Scotland in 1617. However, their difficulties continued, for as early in 1619 Lady Anne joyfully recorded that Lord William Howard had brought her cousin before the Privy Council about northern business, ‘so as the spleen increased between them more and more, and bred faction in Westmorland’.22 A Chancery suit altering the tenures of his Westmorland estates held hopes of increasing their yield tenfold, but as John Lowther I* warned Clifford, his plan to procure a statute to confirm this arrangement was doomed without Lady Anne’s consent as heir presumptive; it was opposed by the solicitor-general, Robert Heath*, and rejected at its second reading on 10 Mar. 1621.23

Returned for Westmorland once more in 1621, Clifford also played an important role in canvassing for his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Wentworth* in the Yorkshire election. First, he persuaded Wentworth to pair with secretary of state (Sir) George Calvert* in place of Sir Thomas Fairfax II*, vice-president of the Council in the North, promising Wentworth a seat at Appleby if he should fail to carry the shire election. He also persuaded Sir Thomas Fairfax I* to support Wentworth, and hosted a dinner for the latter’s supporters at Tadcaster on the eve of the election. Finally, when Sir John Savile* petitioned the Commons against Wentworth’s return, Clifford publicly avowed his role in persuading Wentworth to stand. In so doing he attempted to persuade the privileges’ committee, of which he was a member, to drop the charge that Wentworth had used ‘undue and unlawful means’ to procure his victory. He also, rather more improbably, claimed that Wentworth’s supporters had numbered in the thousands, while Savile had had no more than one hundred.24

Clifford was hardly more active in the Commons before Easter 1621 than he had been in 1614. He was one of those ordered to confer with the Lords about a petition for enforcement of the recusancy laws (15 Feb.), and was named to one of many conferences with the Lords about monopolies (12 March). He was also first on the committee list for the Durham enfranchisement bill (6 Mar.) and was among those appointed to consider the bill to confirm the copyhold tenures on Prince Charles’s manor of Kendal, Westmorland (10 March).25 More active thereafter, he returned to Westminster in time to support the punishment of the Catholic barrister Edward Floyd (1 May), and attempted to resolve the dispute between two other Members, Clement Coke and Sir Charles Morrison (3, 9 May). On 2 June he was one of the delegation sent to inform the king that the Commons had opted for an immediate adjournment rather than a prorogation two weeks later. On 4 June, the morning of the adjournment, he was one of several speakers who called for the punishment of a man who had borne false witness against the bishop of Llandaff, and was overjoyed at the Commons’ last-minute vote to offer their lives and fortunes for the Palatine cause: ‘we shall all be ready, when His Majesty in his wisdom shall think fit and opportune, to write what we have said in our bloods and to seal it with our bodies’.26

Clifford played a more significant part in the autumn sitting. On 23 Nov., when William Mallory questioned the absence of Sir Edwin Sandys*, who had been imprisoned by the king over the summer and had not returned to Westminster, Clifford moved to drop the matter, ‘since Sir Ed[win] Sandys doth not here complain of anything for which he was confined, nor of his confinement’; he was promptly seconded by Wentworth, and the matter was dropped on Calvert’s assurance that Sandys had not been arrested for anything said or done in Parliament. Sandys’s case was one of several issues raised in a petition of 3 Dec., when Clifford was among those dispatched to Newmarket to deliver the Commons’ complaints to the king.27 James declined to read the petition, and when the House attempted to justify its actions four days later, Clifford was one of those who debated the wording of the Commons’ answer. James spurned any talk of a compromise, and by 15 Dec. a swift prorogation seemed likely. When Sir Edward Sackville moved for the Commons to justify itself by means of a formal Protestation, as it had done in 1604, Sir Henry Vane moved to refer the matter to a select committee. Clifford, however, thought that the dispute was so significant that it required a committee of the whole House, and in this he was seconded by Sir Edward Coke. This motion was agreed, but by 18 Dec. James’s patience had been exhausted. When a last-minute motion was made to resume ordinary business, Clifford was one of those who contributed to a bogus debate about the censure of latecomers, which wasted time until Speaker Richardson received a letter from the king announcing a dissolution on the following day.28

In 1622 Clifford’s father lost his lucrative patent for export of unfinished cloth, which was transferred to the duke of Lennox. (Sir) Arthur Ingram’s* plan for compensation was brusquely rejected by lord treasurer (Sir Lionel) Cranfield*, but Wentworth reminded Clifford that this hardly need trouble a family with such vast landed estates:

You may, I dare say, with a great deal of ease, though the king do nothing for you, in three years’ time well employed discharge all your debts honourably and leave a brave fortune of £4,500 a year besides your game, not in leases and offices depending on others, but in good land of inheritance daily improving upon the expiration of your leases in Craven.

Clifford’s industry on the Borders was commended by the king in 1623; but in the following year even Wentworth could not persuade him to stand for Parliament again: ‘I still continue of my first opinion that it were fit you were returned of the House, and then your coming and stay in Parliament to be in such times as your private affairs may not thereby be neglected’.29 Clifford never stood for election again, but at both the Yorkshire elections of 1625 he threw the considerable weight of his family’s interest behind Wentworth and Sir Thomas Fairfax, and he was later one of the protagonists sued in Star Chamber by Sir John Savile. During the Oxford sitting of the 1625 Parliament Wentworth upset King Charles and Buckingham by opposing an additional grant of supply, but Clifford, anxious not to be identified too closely with such refractory behaviour, insisted that he had not been slack in rating the north for the Privy Seal loans which were demanded after the dissolution. His protests were perhaps disingenuous, as Cumberland and Westmorland were never rated, while the gentry of Northumberland failed to pay any of the £300 assessed upon them.30

After Charles’s dissolution of the 1626 Parliament, Clifford sent an obsequious memorandum to Buckingham about financial retrenchment. ‘To hope any longer for remedy from parliaments’, he acknowledged, ‘is to expect a physician after death’. Reform of Crown revenues would take time, and increased recusancy fines might incite Catholics to assist the Spanish; thus he welcomed the prospect of prerogative taxation, ‘there being then none so desperate or impudent, but being seriously made acquainted with His Majesty’s public and important occasions for money, who will not be forward to profess his readiness to supply his sovereign, were his ability answerable thereunto’. Those who refused should have their goods seized, or be conscripted to serve their sovereign in person.31 This was precisely the line pursued by the government over the Benevolence of 1626 and the Forced Loan which followed, during which time Clifford put considerable pressure on Wentworth, a refuser, to ‘slip the money into some commissioner’s hand’, warning that the king promised ‘a perpetual Remembrance, as well as a present punishment’. Clifford remained in close contact with Wentworth during the latter’s imprisonment, and as soon a fresh Parliament was summoned, he began co-ordinating the efforts of Wentworth’s supporters in Yorkshire. He was himself summoned to the Lords under a writ of acceleration on 26 Mar. 1628.32

On the outbreak of the Bishops’ Wars Wentworth recommended Clifford for military employment on the grounds that he ‘may be trusted, and is well-affected to Your Majesty’s person and family’. Although ‘much decayed in the vigour of his body and mind’, he remained loyal to the king in the Civil War. His will of 29 Oct. 1642 lamented ‘the miserable condition of my decayed fortune’, but returned ‘most humble and hearty thanks for my education in the true Protestant religion, abhorring all my life long all manner of Popery and schismatical opinions’. He died of a fever at York on 11 Dec. 1643, and was buried at Skipton, the last male of his family. Through his daughter the Clifford title and Londesborough estate descended to his grandson Charles Boyle, who represented Yorkshire in four parliaments; while the lands in Westmorland and Craven, with the hereditary shrievalty, reverted to Lady Anne, three of whose Tufton grandsons sat for Appleby in the Restoration period.33

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Simon Healy


  • 1. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xviii. 397; CP.
  • 2. Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 318; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 649; 1611-19, p. 43; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 339; Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, iii. 2101, 213, 336.
  • 3. T.D. Whittaker, Craven, 369; G.C. Williamson, Lady Anne Clifford, 50; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xviii. 399-400.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 157.
  • 5. Lords Procs. 1628, v. 103.
  • 6. CP.
  • 7. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xviii. 397.
  • 8. C181/2, f. 207v.
  • 9. C181/4, ff. 54, 80, 120, 124-5.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 38, 96.
  • 11. R. Reid, Council in the North, 498.
  • 12. APC, 1618-19, p. 470.
  • 13. Rymer, vii. pt. 3, p. 173; SP16/123/46.
  • 14. C181/3, ff. 85v, 187, 267v; 181/5, ff. 87, 198, 203, 216-17.
  • 15. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 151.
  • 16. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 17. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, ii. 317, 334; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.H. Macray, ii. 282; iii. 382.
  • 18. Williamson, 50; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 125; Winwood’s Memorials, iii. 123; Her. and Gen. iii. 205; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, v. 30.
  • 19. Chamberlain Letters, i. 354, 440, 542-3; L. Stone, Fam. and Fortune, 121; Whittaker, 365.
  • 20. CD 1621, iii. 437; Clarendon, ii. 286; Whittaker, 363; HMC Hodgkin, 40; R.T. Spence, Lady Anne Clifford, 40-59.
  • 21. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 322, 346, 389.
  • 22. Williamson, 47, 51, 79, 121; HMC Le Fleming, 14; APC, 1615-16, p. 567; CSP Dom. 1611-19, p. 446; Clifford Diary, 86.
  • 23. Lowther Fam. Estate Bks. (Surtees Soc. cxci), 224-5; Wentworth Pprs. 122, 170; CJ, i. 529a, 548-9.
  • 24. Strafforde Letters, i. 9-10, 12; Wentworth Pprs. 145; CJ, i. 507b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 61, 175.
  • 25. CJ, i. 522b, 539b, 548b, 551a.
  • 26. Ibid. 606b, 616b, 637b, 639b; Nicholas, i. 374; CD 1621, v. 202.
  • 27. Nicholas, ii. 199, 276. Clifford was not included on the list in CJ, i. 657b.
  • 28. CJ, i. 659b, 665b, 668a; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, pp. 156-62, 167-70.
  • 29. Wentworth Pprs. 168, 169, 171; APC, 1616-17, p. 362; Williamson, 50; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 38.
  • 30. Add. 25463, f. 72; Fairfax Corresp. ed. G.W. Johnson, i. 8-10; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. (app.), 21; SP16/18/101.
  • 31. SP16/44/3. The latter was addressed to ‘your grace’, the style of a duke.
  • 32. Strafforde Letters, i. 36-8; Wentworth Pprs. 284, 288-9; Lords Procs. 1628, v. 103.
  • 33. Strafforde Letters, i. 19; ii. 234; Clarendon, iii. 382; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xviii. 398; Whittaker, 363.