Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/309

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ley, and still retained the full confidence not only of Queen Mary but of her keeper Paulet. In the next few months he paid many visits to London and Paris. He was well acquainted with Anthony Babington [q. v.], John Ballard, and their fellow-conspirators, and encouraged them to pursue their plot, at the same time keeping Walsingham well informed of its development. At Paris he saw Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador who had been expelled from London, and is reported to have given him the first intelligence of the Babington conspiracy. Mendoza freely promised Spanish aid. Roman catholic writers assert that it was Gifford who suggested and arranged the whole conspiracy. At present the better supported view is that the priest Ballard was its originator. Gifford continued to satisfy both his masters. He carried the fatal letters from Queen Mary to Babington, which contained her approval of the conspiracy, and duly showed them to Walsingham and his agents before they reached their destination. On 8 July 1586 he was in London, and gave Walsingham a book denouncing Parsons and the jesuits which he and Gratley had written some time before. Walsingham highly prized the manuscript, and is said to have distributed printed copies. By the end of July Gifford's work was done. All the details of Babington's plot were settled by the conspirators, and had been brought by Gifford to Walsingham's knowledge. He seems to have felt the danger of his position and hurried to Paris (29 July). After the conspirators' arrest he wrote to Phelippes and Walsingham, hoping that his departure would not be judged ‘sinistrously.’ On 3 Sept. he offered to do further work for Walsingham, but the offer was not accepted. That he was capable of almost any villany is clear, but that he was the concoctor of the Babington plot, and that he interpolated those passages in Queen Mary's letters which convicted her of complicity in the conspiracy and brought her to the scaffold, are charges that have some prima facie justification, but have not yet been proved.

Both sides soon suspected Gifford to be a traitor, although neither knew the exact extent of his treachery. His catholic associates were certainly cognisant of some portion of his action in England. Fitzherbert, writing from Paris (February 1586–7), hoped that he would ‘prove honest.’ In the spring of 1587 he travelled to Rheims and Rouen under the name of Jaques Colerdin. At Rheims he was ordained priest (14 March 1586–7), and expressed an intention of seeking a professorship at Rome. In 1588 he was again at Paris, dressed as disguised priests dressed in England. He quarrelled with Sir Charles Arundel, one of the chief English catholic exiles, who accused him of writing against the jesuits. In December 1588 he was found in a brothel and brought before the bishop of Paris. The bishop committed him to prison; Sir Edward Stafford, the English ambassador, made some endeavours to procure his release, but Gifford thought to serve his own ends better by bringing serious charges against Stafford. His catholic enemies proved more powerful than he anticipated, and he died in prison in November 1590. He announced to Walsingham in 1588 the arrival in Paris of Father John Gerard [q. v.], and is said to have written to Cardinal Allen while in prison an account of the injuries he had done the catholic cause.

[Father Morris's Letter-book of Sir Amias Paulet, passim; Father Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 2nd ser. pp. 86, 361, 379, 388, 453, 492; Foley's Records of the Society of Jesus, vi. 8 et seq. (account of Gifford by Cardinal Sega written in 1596), pp. 15, 68, 135; Records of English Catholics, (1) Douay Diaries, (2) Letters, &c., of Cardinal Allen; Teulet's Papiers d'État (Bannatyne Club); Cal. State Papers (Dom.), 1581–90. Mr. Froude's account of Gifford in History of England, vol. xii., is full of errors, as Father Morris has shown in the Letter-book of Paulet.]

S. L. L.

GIFFORD, Countess of (1807–1867). [See Sheridan, Helen Selena.]

GIFFORD, HUMPHREY (fl. 1580), poet, was probably the second son of Anthony Gifford of Halsbury, Devonshire. He published in 1580 ‘A Posie of Gilloflowers, eche differing from other in colour and odour, yet all sweete,’ 4to, of which a copy (supposed to be unique) is preserved in the King's Library, British Museum. One section is in prose, the other in verse. The prose is prefaced by a dedicatory epistle ‘To the worshipfull his very good Maister, Edward Cope of Edon, Esquier,’ whom Gifford describes as ‘the onely maister that euer I serued;’ and the poetry is dedicated ‘To the Worshipfull John Stafford of Bletherwicke, Esquier.’ Little interest attaches to the prose, which chiefly consists of translations from the Italian; but some of the poems (in particular a spirited war song) have merit. The poems, with selections from the prose, have been reprinted by Dr. Grosart in ‘Occasional Issues,’ and again in ‘Miscellanies of the “Fuller Worthies' Library.”’

[Grosart's Introduction to A Posie of Gilloflowers; Ellis's Specimens.]

A. H. B.

GIFFORD, JAMES, the elder (1740?–1813), unitarian writer, son of James Gifford, mayor of Cambridge in 1757, was born at