Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Clifford, Frederick

CLIFFORD, FREDERICK (1828–1904), journalist and legal writer, born at Gillingham, Kent, on 22 June 1828, was fifth son of Jesse Clifford, of a north-country family, by his wife Mary Pearse. After private schooling, he engaged before he was twenty in provincial journalism. In 1852 he settled in London and joined the parliamentary staff of 'The Times,' of which his elder brother George was already a member. This employment he long combined with much other work. He retained his connection with the provinces by acting as London correspondent of the 'Sheffield Daily Telegraph,' a conservative journal, and in 1863 he became joint proprietor of that newspaper with (Sir) William Christopher Leng [q. v. Suppl. II]. In 1866 he went to Jamaica to report for 'The Times' the royal commission of inquiry into the conduct of Governor Eyre. He helped in 1868 to found the Press Association, an institution formed to supply newspaper proprietors of London and the provinces with home and foreign news, and he acted as chairman of the committee of management during two periods of five years each, finally retiring in 1880. In 1877, owing to the failing health of the editor, John Thaddeus Delane [q. v.], Clifford was transferred by 'The Times' from the reporters' gallery of the House of Commons to Printing House Square, and he acted as assistant editor until his health obliged him to resign in 1883.

Meanwhile Clifford had made a position as a legal writer. He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 3 Nov. 1856, and was called to the bar on 10 June 1859. In 1870 he, with his lifelong friend, Mr. Pembroke S. Stephens, K.C., published 'The Practice of the Court of Referees on Private Bills in Parliament.' This standard textbook on private bill practice first embodied important alterations in the procedure of the court of referees made by act of parliament (30 & 31 Vict. c. 136) and by standing orders of the House of Commons in 1867, and it contained the decisions as to the locus standi of petitioners during the sessions 1867-9. Clifford continued to act as joint editor of the 'Locus Standi Reports' to the end of the session of 1884. Clifford's 'Practice' brought him work at the parliamentary bar. The historical aspect of the practice especially interested him, and he published later 'The History of Private Bill Legislation' (2 vols. 1885-1887), a compilation of permanent value. He took silk in 1894, and was elected a bencher of his inn on 18 May 1900. In early life Clifford co-operated with Edward Bulwer, the first Lord Lytton [q. v.], Charles Dickens, and other men of letters and artists in forming the Guild of Literature and Art, which was incorporated by private act of parliament in 1858. Clifford was a member of the council. The guild failed of its purposes, and Clifford and Sir John Richard Robinson [q. v. Suppl. II], the last surviving members of the council, wound up its affairs in 1897 by means of an Act (60 & 61 Vict. c. xciii.) drafted by Clifford, and they distributed the Funds and landed property (at Knebworth) between the Royal Literary Fund and the Artists' General Benevolent Institution. Clifford was a student of agricultural questions and an active member of the Royal Botanic Society. He died at his residence, 24 Collingham Gardens, Earl's Court, on 30 Dec. 1904. A portrait by Miss Ethel Mortwell belongs to the family. His library formed a three days' sale at Sotheby's (5-7 May 1905). He was a collector of fans and other works of art. Clifford married in 1853 Caroline, third daughter of Thomas Mason of Hull; she died in 1900. His second son, Philip Henry Clifford (1856–1895), graduated B.A. in 1878 from Christ's College, Cambridge, and proceeded M.A. in 1881. His surviving family of four sons and two daughters presented in his memory a silver-gilt claret jug to the Middle Temple (Master Worsley's Book, ed. by A. R. Ingpen, K.C., p. 324).

In addition to the books above mentioned, Clifford was author of 'The Steamboat Powers of Railway Companies' (1865); 'The Agricultural Lockout of 1874, with notes upon Farming and Farm Labour in the Eastern Counties' (1875), founded upon letters in 'The Times'; and a small treatise on the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1875, reprinted from the Royal Agricultural Society's 'Journal,' 1876.

[The Times, 31 Dec. 1904, 2 Jan. 1905; Sheffield Telegraph, 31 Dec. 1904; Men and Women of the Time, 15th edit. 1899; Foster, Men at the Bar; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

C. E. A. B.