The Tudor Society

22 April – Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland

On this day in Tudor history, 22nd April 1542, Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland, magnate and Warden of the West Marches, died.

This Knight of the Garter had a successful career, although he was imprisoned once and upset the king on at least one occasion. He was also described as a greedy landlord.

Find out more about Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, in today's talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 22nd April 1598, Justice Francis Beaumont died after contracting gaol fever at the Black Assizes of the Northern Circuit. But what exactly was gaol fever? Find out in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:


On this day in Tudor history, 22nd April 1542, Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland, died.
Who was this earl?
Well, let me tell you a few Henry Clifford facts…
• Clifford was born in around 1493, in the reign of King Henry VII, and was the eldest son of Henry Clifford, 10th Baron Clifford, and Anne St John.
• He was fortunate to be educated at the royal court and there is evidence that he was brought up with with Prince Henry, the future King Henry VIII.
• In June 1509, at Henry VIII’s coronation celebrations, Clifford was made a Knight of the Bath.
• At some point, he married Margaret Talbot, daughter of George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, but she had died before 1516 and their marriage was short and childless. Clifford married Margaret Percy, daughter of Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, in around 1516, and the couple went on to have two sons and four daughters.
• In 1517, Clifford was arrested and imprisoned in the Fleet, but it is not known why. It was just for a short time though.
• In 1523, his father died and he inherited his title, but in 1525 he was made Earl of Cumberland. In the same year, he was appointed Warden of the West Marches against Scotland, but in 1527 he surrendered the office and William, Lord Dacre, who had more standing in the area due to his lands in the region, succeeded him. Clifford’s lands were in Yorkshire, not in the Marches, so he was not known there and did not have Dacre’s authority.
• Clifford was one of those who supported Henry VIII’s great matter, the king’s desire to annul his first marriage, and in 1530 he signed a letter to Pope Clement VII along with other noblemen asking the pope to grant it.
• In 1534, he appears to have been involved in the fall of his successor, Lord Dacre, who was acquitted of treason, but had to pay a fine. Clifford then replaced Dacre as Warden of the West Marches, but had to cope with opposition from the Dacre family.
• In December 1536, Sir William Musgrave, who had brought the treason charges against Lord Dacre, was attacked by Richard Dacre in front of Henry, Lord Clifford, our Clifford’s son. Henry VIII wrote to Musgrave, Clifford and Dacre in 1537, giving the three of them a good telling off. Clifford offered to resign his post of warden due to the ongoing tensions, but he still held the title at his death in 1542. However, the warden’s actual duties were given to Thomas Wharton instead.
• In late 1536, Clifford supported Henry VIII during the Pilgrimage of Grace by leading a force in Northumberland. His reward for his loyalty was to be elected to the Order of the Garter in 1537.
• Clifford was a magnate, making a large income from his lands. His biographer R W Hoyle writes of him being “a notable encloser” and quotes Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, as saying of Clifford “he must be brought to change his conditions, that is to say, not to be so greedy of getting money of his tenants and others under him”.
• Clifford’s second wife died in 1540 and Clifford died on this day in 1542. He was buried at Skipton Parish Church on 2nd May.
• Clifford’s eldest son, Henry, inherited the earldom, and he married Eleanor Brandon, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and therefore a niece of King Henry VIII.

Exit mobile version