Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clifford, William (d.1670)

CLIFFORD, WILLIAM (d. 1670), divine, was son of Henry Clifford of Brackenborough, Lincolnshire, and Elizabeth Thimelbey of Irnham, Lincolnshire, who in her widowhood retired to the monastery of English nuns at Louvain, and became a religious. He was lineally descended from the ancient family of the Cliffords, who were first created barons and afterwards earls of Cumberland. By right of succession the barony, though not the earldom, fell to him, and he might have assumed the title of Lord Clifford, but his humility prevented him from asserting his claim. He received his education in the English college at Douay, and after being ordained priest he was sent back on the mission. Subsequently he was made rector of the English college at Lisbon. He was next constituted superior of Tournay College at Paris, which Cardinal Richelieu had granted to the Bishop of Chalcedon for the education of the English clergy. In 1660 he was placed on the list for the episcopal dignity; but he declined this honour, as he also did in 1670 the offer of the presidentship of Douay College. During the latter years of his life he resided in the Hôpital des Incurables at Paris, where he spent the greater part of his time in ministering to the wants of the poor inmates. He died on 30 April 1670, and was buried in the churchyard belonging to the hospital.

His works are:

  1. 'Christian Rules proposed to a Vertuous Soule aspiring to Holy Perfection, whereby shee may regulate both her Time and Actions for the obtaining of her happy end,' Paris, 1655, 1659, 1665, 12mo. Dedicated to Mrs. Ursula Clifford.
  2. 'The Spiritual! Combat, worthily termed a Golden Treatise of Christian Perfection. Translated out of the truest coppies in severall languages by R. R. With a Letter of S. Eucnerius, Bishop of Lyons, &c, to Valerian,' Paris, 1656, 48mo. Dedicated to Walter Montagu, abbot of St. Martin at Pontoise; second dedication to Mrs. Ursula Clifford.
  3. 'A little Manual of the Poor Man's Dayly Devotion,' 2nd edit. Paris, 1670, 12mo; 4th edit. London, 1687, 12mo; 5th edit. (London?) 1705, 8vo; frequently reprinted. # 'Observations upon all the Kings' Reigns since the Conquest,' manuscript.
  4. 'Collections concerning the Chief Points of Controversy,' manuscript.

[Preface to fifth edition of Clifford's Little Manual; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 297; Gillow's Bibl. Dict. i. 514; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

T. C.