CLIFFORD, HENRY de CLIFFORD, fourteenth Lord Clifford, tenth Baron of Westmoreland, first Lord Vesci (1455?–1523), was the eldest son of John de Clifford [q. v.], baron of Westmoreland, by his wife Margaret (1462-1493), daughter and heiress of Sir John Bromflet, baron Vesci (d. 16 Jan. 1468). His father having been attainted and his estates forfeited when Henry de Clifford was seven years old, he was, according to Dugdale, brought up as a shepherd at his mother’s estate of Londesborough in Yorkshire, whence by the help of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld he was conveyed to a Cumberland farm on the Scottish borders, while his hereditary manors were enjoyed by the partisans of Edward IV— Skipton going to Sir William Stanley, and the barony of Westmoreland to Richard, duke of Gloucester (Dugdale. i. 343; Whitaker, History of Craven, 320-7 ). On the accession of Henry VII his attainder was reversed and his estates restored by act of parliament (9 Nov. 1485). His age was then about thirty : but he had been brought up so meanly that it is said he could not read at the time. His name does not appear in Hall’s list of Henry VIII chief counsellors, though he was a Yorkshire commissioner of array against the Scots and receiver of crown lands on 25 and 30 Sept. 1485, when he had received knighthood. He was employed to receive the rebels to allegiance (18 May 1486), having a little before this date (2 May) been appointed steward of Middleton. In February 1491 he laid claim to the Durham manors of Hert and Hertlepool. His descendant, the Countess of Pembroke, speaks of him as ‘a plain man, who lived for the most part a country life, and came seldom to court or London, except when called to parliament,’ to which, according to Nicolas, he received summons from 15 Sept. 1485 to 16 Jan. 1497. He was, however, at London on 30 Oct. 1494, when Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII, was made a knight of the Bath. He aided the Earl of Surrey at the relief of Norham Castle in 13 Henry VII, and fought with the central vanguard against the Earls of Crawford and Murray at the battle of Flodden, whence he seems to have carried off three pieces of James IV’s famous ordnance, ‘the seven sisters,’ to grace his castle at Skipton, where they were still to be seen in 1572. He was frequently commissioner of array for the three Yorkshire ridings, Cumberland, and Westmoreland, of which last county he was hereditary sheriff. In 1522 he lent Henry VIII a thousand marks for that king’s French expedition—almost the largest sum on the list. On 8 Sept. 1522 his son, Henry de Clifford (1493-1542) [q. v.], had to lead the Clifford force against the Scots, as his father was sick. Next year he died, 23 April 1523, leaving orders for his burial at Shap in Westmoreland or Bolton in Craven (Whitaker, pp. 322-7, 405; Letters of Richard III and Henry VII, 99, 389; Dugdale, i. 344; Calendar of State Papers, ed. Brewer, vols. i. &c.; Mat. for History of Henry VII, pp. 63, 117, 224, 420; Hall, pp. 424, 481).
Clifford seems to have been a man of studious habits, and, according to Whitaker, was specially devoted to astronomy and astrology. Whitaker mentions an Old-French ‘Treatise on Natural Philosophy’ given by him to Bolton Priory, on the dissolution of which establishment it reverted to the family. He seems to have resided chiefly in a half retirement at Barden, where he is said to have constructed a tower, and where, with the aid of the neighbouring canons of Bolton, he amused himself by studying the heavenly bodies (Whitaker, 334). This feature in his life, and the romantic story of his early years, form the basis of one of Wordsworth’s poems, ‘Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle,’ and of what is perhaps the finest passage in the ‘White Doe of Rylstone.’
Clifford married, first, Anne, daughter of Sir John St. John of Bletsho, Bedfordshire, knt., cousin-german to Henry VII, by whom he had three sons—Henry [q. v.], first earl of Cumberland, Sir Thomas Clifford (married to Lucy, daughter of Sir Anthony Brown), who figures in the ‘State Papers’ of Henry VIII’s reign, and Edward and four daughters. Clifford’s second wife was Florence, daughter of Henry Pudsey of Barfoot, Yorkshire, by whom he had two or three sons, who died young, and a daughter.[For general authorities on the family see Clifford, Robert de; see also Letters of Richard III and Henry VII, ed. Gairdner (Rolls Series); Materials for the History of Henry VII, ed. Campbell (Rolls Series); Calendar of State Papers, ed. Brewer, vols. i. and ii.; Hall’s Chronicle, ed. Ellis, 1809-10.] Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11
Clifford, Henry de (1455?-1523) by Thomas Andrew Archer