CLIFFORD, Augustus William James (1788-1877).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1818 - 1820
1820 - Feb. 1822
22 July 1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 26 May 1788, 1st s. of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, by Lady Elizabeth Foster (whom he m. 19 Oct. 1809), da. of Frederick Augustus, 4th Earl of Bristol, w. of John Thomas Foster, MP [I], of Dunleer, co. Louth. educ. Harrow 1796-9. m. 20 Oct. 1813, Elizabeth Frances, da. of Lord John Townshend*, 3s. 2da. CB 8 Dec. 1815, kntd. 4 Aug. 1830; cr. Bt. 4 Aug. 1838.

Offices Held

Midshipman RN 1800, lt. 1806, cdr. 1811, capt. 1812, r.-adm. 1848, v.-adm. 1855, adm. 1864.

Gent. usher of Black Rod 1832.


Clifford was born abroad, the eldest natural son of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. He took the name of one of his baronies and benefited throughout his career from the generosity of his half-brother, the 6th Duke. He was embarked on a promising naval career, ‘a remarkably handsome man, with a fine martial gallant air’, when the duke settled £2,000 a year on him on their father’s death in 1811. An even more generous settlement was made on his marriage in 1813. In April 1814 his mother, rather late in the day, requested the Prince Regent to give him a chance to distinguish himself at sea in the war with the United States.1

Although, as an alien, Clifford was believed to be at risk if he entered Parliament, he was thought of for his father-in-law’s seat at Knaresborough in January 1818 and went on to sit snugly for the duke’s Irish pocket boroughs in the next two Parliaments. He gave a consistent if silent support to the opposition. In February 1819 he was ‘very active and zealous’ in support of George Lamb’s candidature at Westminster, and in September 1819 the duke wished him to spend the winter with the Devonshire House set, to ‘continue his steady honourable line in the House of Commons, and cultivate the acquaintance he has made in London’.2 He died 9 Feb. 1877.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Chatsworth mss, Devonshire to Lady Morpeth, 13 Aug. 1811, 11 Oct. 1813; Add. 51549, Lady Holland to Grey [7 Oct. 1811]; Geo. IV Letters, i. 426.
  • 2. Carlisle mss, Mrs G. Lamb to Lady Morpeth, 10 July [1817]; Chatsworth mss, Abercromby to Devonshire, 16 Feb., Duke to Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, 9 Sept. 1819.