CLIFFORD, Sir Nicholas (d.1595).

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

s. of Henry Clifford by Anne Devereux, sis. of ‘Visct. Hereford’ (presumably Walter, 2nd Visct. cr. Earl of Essex 1572). m. Frances, da. of Sir William Drury, 1da. Kntd. 1591.1

Offices Held


Like his first cousin Sir Conyers, Clifford was in the service of his cousin Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex, who knighted him for gallantry at Rouen. Henri IV conferred on him the order of St. Michael, but the Queen, in a ‘passion’ and ‘rage’ at his wearing at court foreign insignia accepted without her leave, imprisoned him first in the ‘noisome’ Fleet, then in the Tower ‘where I look rather to die than live’, and forced him to return the order, though to do so was to make ‘a scorn of that nation, which is so jealous of their honour’. It was about this incident that Elizabeth is supposed to have said ‘My dogs wear my collars’. He was granted an honorary degree at Cambridge in 1594, and in the following year served on Drake’s last voyage to the Indies, where he was killed at Puerto Rico when a shore battery fired a lucky shot into the cabin of the Defiance as Drake and other officers sat at table. He was buried at sea.2

The Devereux connexion explains Clifford’s nomination for Haverfordwest. In 1596 the town belatedly paid 7s.6d. to the clerk of the Crown ‘for entering Sir Nicholas Clifford’s name when he went into the Parliament House’.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 40; Hasted, Kent, vi. 201; A. Campling, Hist. Drury Fam. 100.
  • 2. HMC Hatfield, iv. 169-70, 491-2, 498, 518-19, 523, 526; v. 132; xiii. 591; HMC 7th Rep. 523; A. E. W. Mason, Francis Drake, 406, 414; T. Maynarde, Sir Francis Drake (Hak. Soc. iv), 6, 9; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 209; J. Corbett, Drake and Tudor Navy, ii. 406, 418, 420; Tenison, Eliz. England, ix. 332, 548.
  • 3. Arch. Camb. (ser. 6), iv. 265.