CLIFFORD, Henry (c.1515-77), of Boscombe, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1515, 1st s. of William Clifford of Boscombe by Elizabeth, da. of Richard Vaux of Odiham, Hants. m. (1) Mary, da. of Sir Anthony Hungerford of Down Ampney, Glos., 3s. 5da.; (2) by 1568, Elizabeth, da. of William Carant or Corrant of Toomer, Som., ?s.p. suc. fa. by 1537.2

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. from c. June 1543-58, from c.1573; escheator, Hants and Wilts. 1550-1; commr. for relief, Wilts. 1550, for oyer and terminer 1554.3


Clifford was a country gentleman related to the 2nd Earl of Cumberland. His omission from the commission of the peace early in Elizabeth’s reign was not on religious grounds as he was classified ‘wise and politic and able to serve’ in the 1564 bishop’s reports. Probably it was because of his desperate financial condition. In a letter to Sir John Thynne dated the last day of February 1564 (admittedly he was trying to avoid lending the Crown £100) he said that ‘though very willing’ he had not 100s. Owing to ‘heavy expenses of house and children’.4

He was returned once for Great Bedwyn in this period, no doubt through his in-laws, the Hungerfords, with the implicit approval of the Earl of Hertford. In 1555 he had voted against a government bill, but nothing is known of him in the 1559 House except that on 9 Mar. and again on 28 Apr. he was licensed to be absent ‘for his affairs’. He was active on Sir John Thynne’s side in the contested Wiltshire election of 1559, declaring that 20 of Penruddock’s freeholders might be ‘sown with one pound of onion seed’. In evidence at the ensuing Star Chamber case he deposed that after the election he, ‘perceiving the sheriff to stand in doubt what he might best do, declared to the sheriff that he might return Sir John Thynne according to the laws of this realm’. He subsequently sealed the return at Archdeacon Carew’s house in the Close at Salisbury, ‘both for himself and Mr. Hungerford by his request’.5

He died 22 Aug. 1577. His will, drawn up in the previous month, made detailed arrangements for the support of his family, mainly by annuities from lands. The situation was very different from that of his letter of February 1564. Each of his four unmarried daughters was to have £200 if she married with the consent of his widow and sons: the overseers—Sir John Thynne, Sir John Hungerford, Clifford’s brother-in-law Leonard Corrant and his ‘son-in-law, John Cheke or Chicke—had also to agree. There were generous charitable bequests, including £20 to build a church porch at Boscombe and £20 to repair the highway ‘upon the west down’ there. Every poor householder with no corn growing in Boscombe and several other parishes was to have a bushel of wheat. The heir, Clifford’s eldest son Anthony, aged 36, was appointed executor.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 39; Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 195; LP Hen. VIII, xiv(2), p. 225; PCC 5 Crumwell, 6 Langley, 46 Martyn; Hoare, Wilts. Ambresbury, 112, 115; Wilts. Arch. Mag. vi. 195-6; C142/180/24.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xx(1), p. 316; CPR, 1547-8, p. 91; 1553 and App. Edw. VI, pp. 348, 359; 1553-4, pp. 25, 28.
  • 4. CPR, 1554-5, p. 247; PCC 6 Langley; LP Hen. VIII, vii. 362; ix, p. 156; C142/180/24; Wards 7/19/49; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 38; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. iv. 17, 24 seq.; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 3, f. 108, ex. inf. Marjorie Blatcher.
  • 5. CJ, i. 57, 61; EHR, xxiii. 470-3.
  • 6. PCC 6 Langley; C142/180/24; Wards 7/19/49. The only one of Clifford’s daughters married by the time of the will was apparently Bridget Rogers. Perhaps the testator’s second wife was a widow, and Cheke was his stepson. He was probably the John ‘Chicke’ who carried out a land conveyance with Clifford in May 1568 (CPR, 1566-9, p. 237).