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Lord Clifford.

Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh (1 August 1630 – 17 October 1673) was an English statesman and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1672 when he was created Baron Clifford.


Clifford was born in Ugbrooke, the son of Hugh Clifford of Chudleigh, Devon, and his wife Mary Chudleigh, daughter of Sir George Chudleigh, 1st Baronet. He was baptised on 4 August 1630 at Ugbrooke. He matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford in 1647 and entered Middle Temple in 1648.[1]

Political and Public Life

In April 1660, Clifford was elected Member of Parliament for Totnes in the Convention Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Totnes in 1661 for the Cavalier Parliament.[1] He distinguished himself in naval battles, and was knighted. He became Comptroller of the Household in 1666 and a member of the Privy Council. At the end of the Dutch war in 1669 he intrigued against the peace treaty, preferring the French interests. He was one of the five Counsellors who formed the Cabal, though he was probably the least important of them. This clique had a reputation for self-seeking policies. Indeed, Clifford was known as 'the Bribe Master General'.

Clifford was created the first Baron Clifford of Chudleigh on 22 April 1672 for his suggestion that the King supply himself with money by stopping, for one year, all payments out of the Exchequer. He was Lord High Treasurer from 28 November 1672 to June 1673, when, as a Roman Catholic, he found himself unable to comply with the Test Act and resigned.

He died by his own hand (perhaps "strangled with his cravatt upon the bed-tester") a few months after his retirement.

Family and children

Arms of Clifford: Checky or and azure, a fesse gules[2]

*His father: Sir Hugh Clifford of Chudleigh, Devon and Ugbrooke

  • His mother: Mary, daughter of Sir George Chudleigh, 1st Bt Chudleigh of Ashton.
  • His aunt: Sabina Clifford, married Matthew Hals of Kenendon. Their daughter, Anne, married Rev John Tindal and was the mother of Dr Matthew Tindal, the eminent deist and author of Christianity as Old as the Creation.
  • He married Elizabeth Martin, who died in 1709. She was the daughter of Richard (William) Martin of Lindridge House, Devon.
  • They had fifteen children, eight of which were daughters:
  1. Elizabeth, born before 1655, died as infant.
  2. Elizabeth, born 1655, died 1677, married in 1673 Henry Carew, 2nd Baronet Carew of Haccombe. They had no issue (?).
  3. Mary, born 1658, died 9 October 1715, married in 1673 Sir Simon Leach of Cadeleigh. They had no issue (?).
  4. Amy, born 1661, died 1693, married in October 1681 John Courtenay (d.1724) of Molland, Devon. They had numerous issue, as the mural monument in Molland Church attests. No male grandsons resulted and Molland descended via their daughter Mary who married William Paston of Horton Court, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire.
  5. Anne, born 1662, died 1678.
  6. Rhoda, born 1665, died 1689.
  7. Isabel Clifford, born between 1665 and 1669, died as infant.
  8. Catherine Clifford, born 1670, died 1708.

And their sons were:

  1. Thomas, born before 1652, died as infant.
  2. Thomas, born before 1652, died as infant.
  3. Thomas, born on 3 December 1652, died in 1671 in Florence, Italy.
  4. George, born between 1653 and 1662, died as infant
  5. Hugh, 2nd Baron Clifford of Chudleigh (1663–1730)
  6. Simon, born 1666, died ?, acceded in 1686.
  7. Charles, born 1671, baptized on 24 June 1671, died on 4 July 1691, buried in Ugbrooke.


  1. ^ a b History of Parliament Online- Thomas Clifford
  2. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.262
Parliament of England
Preceded by
MP for Totnes
1660–1673 with
Thomas Chafe 1660–1661
Sir Edward Seymour 1661–1673
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Berry
Sir Edward Seymour
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Pollard, Bt
Comptroller of the Household
Succeeded by
The Lord Newport
Preceded by
The Viscount Fitzhardinge
Treasurer of the Household
Succeeded by
The Lord Newport
Preceded by
In Commission
(First Lord: The Duke of Albemarle)
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
The Viscount Latimer
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Clifford of Chudleigh
Succeeded by
Hugh Clifford

1 Annotation

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Per L&M Companion:-

1st. Baron Clifford (1630-73). One of the ablest and boldest politicians of his day a strong supporter of royal power and the Catholic interest and a violent enemy of the Dutch. M.P. for Totnes1660, 1661-72; a Privy Counselor from 1666; created baron 1672. The principal offices he held were those of Comptroller, then Treasurer of the Household 1666-72; Treasury Commissioner 1667-72 and Lord Treasurer 1672-3; he was also a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber 1660-73, a Fishery Commissioner from 1664, a sub-commissioner of the Sick and Wounded and a Commissioner for Prizes 1664-7. He served ion the fleet in the Second Dutch War and had a large part in precipitating the war of 1672-4. Pepys remarks more than once on his ability and his astonishing rise to power. He resigned after the Test Act in 1673, being received into the Catholic church at about that time. His death shortly after was said (probably wrongly) to have been suicide.


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.