Topics > People in History > Lady Anne Clifford (1590 - 1676)

Lady Anne Clifford (1590 - 1676)


Lady Anne Clifford was the last member of one of England’s great medieval land owning families. The Clifford family had large estates in northern England, and including Skipton Castle, where Anne was born in 1590, and 4 castles in Westmorland.

Anne’s father, George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, died in 1605. Anne, then aged 15, was his only surviving child; her two brothers had died during child birth. However, the estates were inherited by the Earl’s brother, rather than by Anne. She fought a 40 year legal battle for her right to inherit her father’s estates. The estates did revert back to Anne in 1643 on the death of her cousin. However, it wasn’t until the end of the English Civil War (1642–1651) that Anne was able to return to her estates in the North. During the Civil War, Anne lived in London. She was a Royalist and had become estranged from her 2nd husband, Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, who sided with the Parliamentarians.

On returning to the North, Lady Anne found her estates in poor condition following the Civil War, and spent much of the rest of her life restoring the castles (Brough Castle, Brougham Castle, Appleby Castle and Pendragon Castle in Westmorland and Skipton Castle in Yorkshire) and documenting her family’s history. Anne was also a patron of the arts, and as a devout Christian she built and restored churches and alms houses. Anne died at Brougham Castle on the 22nd of March 1676, in the room where her father had been born and her mother had died.[1] Anne was buried in her family vault in St Lawrence’s Church in Appleby.

Lady Anne Clifford's legacy and connections in the North include:

Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery, suo jure 14th Baroness de Clifford (30 January 1590 – 22 March 1676) was an English peeress. In 1605 she inherited her father's ancient barony by writ and became suo jure 14th Baroness de Clifford. She was a patron of literature and as evidenced by her diary and many letters was a literary personage in her own right. She held the hereditary office of High Sheriff of Westmorland which role she exercised from 1653 to 1676.

Origins

Lady Anne was born on 30 January 1590 in Skipton Castle, and was baptised the following 22 February in Holy Trinity Church in Skipton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. She was the only surviving child and sole heiress of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1558–1605) of Appleby Castle in Westmorland and of Skipton Castle, by his wife, Lady Margaret Russell, daughter of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford. Her childhood tutor was the poet Samuel Daniel.

Inheritance

On the death of her father on 30 October 1605, she succeeded suo jure to the ancient title Baroness de Clifford, a barony created by writ in 1299, but her father's earldom passed (according to the patent of its creation) as was usual, to the heir male, namely his younger brother Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland (1559–1641), to whom he had willed his estates. He had bequeathed to Anne the sum of £15,000. In her young adulthood she engaged in a long and complex legal battle to obtain the family estates, which had been granted by King Edward II (1307–1327) under absolute cognatic primogeniture, instead of the £15,000 willed to her. Her main argument was that she was just 15 years old at the time. It was not until the death in 1643 without male progeny of Henry Clifford, 5th Earl of Cumberland, the 4th Earl's only son, that Anne managed to regain the family estates, although she did not obtain possession until 1649.

Early years

Her parents' marriage was soured by the deaths of Anne's two elder brothers before the ages of 5 and her parents lived apart for most of her childhood. The strain of the marriage was seen in the public realm as well, especially after the separation. Her father maintained an important position at the court of Elizabeth I, while her mother received no recognition in regards to her husband at court. As her parents were separated, her mother maintained a matriarchal position in her house, for the family was kept under her care. She was brought up in an almost entirely female household—evoked in Emilia Lanier's Description of Cookeham—and received an excellent education from her tutor, Samuel Daniel the poet. As a child she was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. She danced in masques with Queen Anne of Denmark, consort of King James I, and played the Nymph of the Air in Samuel Daniel's masque Tethys's Festival, and played roles in several of the early court masques by Ben Jonson, including The Masque of Beauty (1608) and The Masque of Queens (1609).

Marriages and progeny

Lady Anne married twice:

Both marriages were reportedly difficult; contemporaries cited Lady Anne's unyielding personality as a cause, whilst her cousin Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford, compared her to the River Rhone. A more sympathetic view might blame some of the troubles in her first marriage on her husband's extravagance and his infidelities. Her first husband was a prominent figure at court. Her disagreement with her husband over her inheritance claims proved another source of difficulty within their marriage. Lord Dorset believed she should settle the inheritance case rather than pursue through the courts. In disagreeing with and defying her husband's wishes, Lady Anne was breaking with the norm of obedience to her husband. A central conflict with her second husband lay in her decision to allow her younger daughter to make her own choice of husband.

Patron of arts

She was an important patron of literature and due to her own writings in the form of letters and the diary she kept from 1603 to 1616, was a literary figure in her own right. John Donne said of her that she could "discourse of all things from Predestination to Slea-silk".

Jan van Belcamp painted a huge triptych portrait of Anne Clifford to her own design and specifications. Titled The Great Picture, it portrays Lady Anne at three points in her life: at age 56 (right), at age 15 (left), and before birth in her mother's womb (centre). In connection with the painting, Anne Clifford dated her own conception at 1 May 1589, an unusual act of precision. The painting can now be seen in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery.

Anne sent a miniature portrait of herself to her mother the Countess of Cumberland in June 1615, writing, "I have sent you my picture done in little, which some says is very like me, and others say it does me rather wrong than flatters me, I know you will accept the shadow of her whose substance is come from yourself. I hope you will requite me with the same kindness and let me have yours when either you come up to London, or when so ever any that draw pictures comes into those parts where now you are."

Building works

In 1656 she erected the Countess Pillar near Brougham, Cumbria, in memory of her late mother. This was the site of her last meeting with her mother in 1616. On the low stone beside it, money was given to the poor on the anniversary of their parting. This is commemorated annually on 2 April.

She restored churches at Appleby-in-Westmorland, Ninekirks, Brougham and Mallerstang. She was also responsible for the improvement and expansion of many of the Clifford family's castles across Northern England, including Skipton Castle in Yorkshire and Pendragon Castle, Brough Castle, Appleby Castle and Brougham Castle, all in Westmorland (now Cumbria).

Later life and death

After inheriting her father's estates in Westmorland, by way of outliving the male heirs (her uncle and cousin), Lady Anne became a wealthy landowner. She was heavily involved with her tenants to the point of filing lawsuits against them and actively pursuing rents and debts owed to her. This was to be the demeanour of her power in later life, that of a direct landowner calling upon the traditions of the baronial class. After moving north, she rotated her residence amongst her castles, living in various ones for several months to a year at a time. She died aged 86 at Brougham Castle, in the room in which her father had been born and her mother had died. At her death she was the Dowager Countess of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery. Her tomb and monument is in St Lawrence's Church, Appleby-in-Westmorland.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 13/02/2021).
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People in History Appleby Castle Brougham Hall Brough Castle Lady Anne's Belvedere Church of St Lawrence Pendragon Castle St Anne's Hospital (Almshouses) Brougham Castle
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Lady Anne Clifford
- Portrait of Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset and later Countess of Pembroke (1590 - 1676). Portraite 1618 by William Larkin (1580–1619). Public Domain Image c/o Wikimedia Commons.

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Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of George Clifford

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Lady Anne Clifford

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Brougham Castle
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Brougham Castle
- Overview About Brougham Castle Map Street View Located about a mile south-east of Penrith in Cumbria. Brougham Castle (pronounced /ˈbruːm/) is a medieval building about 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east ...
Brough Castle
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Brough Castle
- Overview About Brough Castle Map Street View   Not to be confused with Brough Castle in Brough, Caithness. Brough Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Brough, Cumbria, ...
St Anne's Hospital (Almshouses)
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St Anne's Hospital (Almshouses)
- Overview Map Street View Almshouses on Boroughgate in Appleby-in-Westmorland, inscribed:"This Almes House was founded and begun to be built in the year 1651, and was finished and endowed for the ...
Pendragon Castle
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Pendragon Castle
- Overview About Pendragon Castle Map Street View Inside Pendragon Castle is situated on a knoll overlooking the River Eden in Mallerstang Dale, about 3½ miles south of Kirkby Stephen and ...
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The benevolent Lady Anne Clifford

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Lady Anne's Belvedere
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Lady Anne's Belvedere
- Overview Map A belvedere (summrhouse) built for Lady Anne Clifford in the mid-17th century, overlooking the River Eden, close to Appleby Castle. Sometimes reffered to as "Lady Anne's Bee-house" or ...
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Inscription, St Mary's Church, Outhgill

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Brougham Hall
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Brougham Hall
- Overview About Brougham Hall Map Street View   Brougham Hall is located in the village of Brougham just outside Penrith, Cumbria, England. History The de Burgham family may have held ...
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The Great Picture c.1646
- Public Domain image c/o Wikimedia Commons. "The Great Picture, a huge triptych measuring 8ft 5" high and 16ft 2" wide, commissioned in 1646 by Anne Clifford, attributed to Jan ...

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LADY ANNE CLIFFORD
- "The last member of one of England’s great medieval dynasties, Lady Anne Clifford became something of a legend in her own lifetime, and has remained a celebrated figure in ...

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Lady Anne Clifford's story
- "The redoubtable and determined Anne Clifford, countess of Pembroke, Dorset and Montgomery (1590-1676), spent much of her life in a long and complex legal battle to obtain the rights of ...

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Lady Anne Clifford
- "Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery, suo jure 14th Baroness de Clifford (30 January 1590 – 22 March 1676) [3] was an English peeress. In 1605 she inherited ...

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Appleby Castle
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Appleby Castle
- Overview About Appleby Castle Map   Appleby Castle is in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland overlooking the River Eden (grid reference NY685200). It consists of a 12th-century castle keep which is ...
Church of St Lawrence
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Church of St Lawrence
- Overview About St Lawrence's Church Map Street View St Lawrence's Church, located off Boroughgate in Appleby-in-Westmorland dates from the 12th century. The lower section of the church tower dates from c.1150, with the ...
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The Great Picture, commissioned by Lady Anne Clifford, showing herself as a child and as an old woman, with her parents and siblings in the middle

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St Lawrence, Appleby: tomb of Lady Anne Clifford

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