Clifford, Richard (DNB00)


CLIFFORD, RICHARD (d. 1421), bishop of Worcester and London, is said to have been grandson of Thomas de Clifford, younger son of Robert de Clifford II (d. 1344), third baron of Westmoreland (Whitaker; Dugdale, i. 340). It is, however, possible that he was the son of Sir Lewis Clifford (1336?-1404), as Godwin asserts on manuscript authority (p. 187, cf. Scrope and Grosvenor Roll, i. 197, ii. 427, 429, &c.) He makes his first appearance on 1 March 1385 as canon of St. Stephen's Chapel Royal in Westminster. When the appellant lords impeached Sir Simon Burley [q. v.], Clifford found himself involved in the same charges, and was imprisoned in Rochester Castle 4 Jan. 1388. Five months later (3 June) the commons made a special petition that his name, with that of Henry Bowet [q. v.] and a few others, should be excluded from the list of pardons. From this it would appear that he was one of the favourites of Richard II, an opinion which is strengthened by the fact that he is first clerical executor of this king's will, dated 16 April 1398 or 1399 (Parl. Rolls, ii. 248-9; Walsingham, Ypod. Neustriæ, p.355; Rymer, vii. 567, viii. 77). He must, however, have been released very soon, as on 4 June 1388 he appears as guardian of the privy seal, an office which he seems to have held till the end of the reign (Rymer, viii. 77; Privy Council Proceedings, i. 80-1), and even during the first year and a half of Henry IV (ib. p. 129). He was a great pluralist, and was apparently canon and prebendary of Salisbury (Blebury) till his elevation to a bishopric (22 Sept. 1401); prebendary of Fenton, in the diocese of York (17 Oct. 1386; reappointed 31 Dec. 1395); prebendary of Leighton Buzzard (9 Aug. 1392), and of Cadington Major in the diocese of London (10 Dec. 1397); archdeacon of Canterbury (March 1397); dean of York (26 March 1398); prebendary of Riccall (York, 24 April 1398), and of Norwell Palishall (Southwell, from 25 Sept, 1415); prebendary of Islington (17 March 1418); archdeacon of Middlesex (2 May 1418).

About April 1401 Clifford was promoted by papal provision to the see of Bath and Wells; but, as the king refused him the temporalities, he was transferred to Worcester (19 Aug. 1401), and his original bishopric given to Henry Bowet (Le Neve, i. 42; Godwin, pp. 378-9). In 1402 he helped to conduct Blanche, the eldest daughter of Henry IV, to Cologne, and there married her to Louis, son of Rupert, king of the Romans (Green, iii. 326). Three of his letters written about this period are preserved (Smith, Worcester, pp. 100-1; Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 278; Coxe, Cat. C. C. C. ii. 26). From Worcester Gregory XII translated him to London by a bull dated 22 June 1407, the same year in which Henry Bowet was translated to York (Le Neve, ii. 294; Ypod. Neustr. p. 423). On 23 and 25 Sept, 1413 he was present in the chapter-house of St. Paul's at Sir John Oldcastle's trial for heresy, and it is from the Archbishop of Canterbury's elaborate letter to him that we derive our knowledge of the details of this great case. Two years later (17 Aug. 1415) he assisted the same prelate's successor, when John Claydon, the London Lollard, was handed over to the civil power (Rymer, ix. 61; Wilkins, iii. 371). On 28 May 1415 he was ordered to array his clergy against the enemies of the king and church. Little more than a year later (20 July 1416) he was appointed one of the English ambassadors to the council of Constance, and he had certainly quitted England on this service by 16 Dec. (Rymer, ix. 254, 371, 420). While at Constance he received at least one letter of instruction written by the king's own hand. In the deliberations he took a very prominent part, and was even proposed for the papacy. It was he who at the 'early morning' conclave of 11 Nov. 1417 uttered the words 'Ego Ricardus episcopus Londoniensis accedo ad dominum meum cardinalem de Columpna,' and thus secured the election of Martin V. On Sunday, 31 Jan. 1417, he entertained the Duke of Bavaria, the king of the Romans, and the Burgrave (Rymer, ix. 436, 466; Ypodigma Neustr. pp. 475-6).

While bishop of London Clifford took a considerable part in matters not strictly ecclesiastical. He was acting as the archbishop's deputy when the convocation held at St. Paul's (Corpus Christi day, 1413) granted a tenth to the king, and was present at the Westminster great council (16 April 1415) when Henry V determined to recover his inheritance in France (Wilkins, iii. 351; Rymer, ix. 222). Little more than a month before his death he was in communication with the archbishop about the privileges of Oxford and Cambridge graduates (16 July 1421). He died 20 Aug. 1421, and was buried 'under the marble stone where formerly stood the shrine of St. Erkenwald' (Wilkins, p. 401; Godwin, i. 187). It was this bishop who (15 Oct. 1414) supplanted the old use of St. Paul's by that of Sarum.

[Wilkins's Concilia, vol. iii.; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy, vols. i. ii. iii.; Smith's Worcester in 'English Dioceses;' Register of St. Paul's, ed. Simpson (1873); Godwin, De Præsulibus, ed. Richardson (1743); Walsingham's Ypodigma Neustriae (Rolls Series); Coxe's Catalogue of Oxford MSS.; for other authorities see Clifford, Robert de and Roger de.]

T. A. A.