Clifford, Anne (DNB00)
|←Cliff, Henry de||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11
CLIFFORD, ANNE, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery (1590–1676), was the only surviving child of George, third earl of Cumberland [q. v.], by his wife, Lady Margaret Russell [see Clifford, Margaret], third daughter of Francis, second earl of Bedford. She was born at Skipton Castle on 30 Jan. 1590. The poet Daniel was her tutor, and the verses written by him and addressed to her when in her youth will be found in the collected editions of Daniel's poems, 1599, 1601-2, 1623. On 25 Feb. 1609 she was married in her 'mother's house and her own chamber in Augustine Fryers, in London,' to Richard Sackville, lord Buckhurst, afterwards second earl of Dorset (Harl. MS. 6177, p. 124). By him she had three sons, all of whom died young, and two daughters, viz. Margaret, who married John, lord Tufton, afterwards second earl of Thanet, and Isabel, who became the wife of James Compton, third earl of Northampton. Her first husband died on 28 March 1624, and shortly afterwards she had a severe attack of small-pox, 'which disease did so martyr my face, that it confirmed more and more my mind never to marry again, tho' ye providence of God caused me after to alter that resolution.' On 3 June 1630 she was married to her second husband, Philip Herbert, fourth earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, at Chenies in Buckinghamshire (ib. p. 129). There was no issue of this marriage, and her husband died on 23 Jan. 1650. Neither of these marriages appears to have turned out very happily; for she relates that 'in both their lifetimes the marble pillars of Knowle in Kent and Wilton in Wiltshire were to me often times but the gay arbour of anguish, insomuch as a wise man that knew the insides of my fortune would often say that I lived in both these my lords' great familys, as the river of Roan or Rodanus runs through the Lake of Geneva without mingling any part of its streams with that lake; for I gave myself wholly to retiredness as much as I could in both those great families, and made good books and virtuous thoughts my companions' (ib. p. 123). After the death of her father in 1605 continual lawsuits were waged by her mother on her behalf, and, after her mother's death, by herself with her uncle Francis and cousin, with regard to the family estates. On 17 Feb. 1628 a writ was issued to her cousin, Henry Clifford, calling him up to the House of Lords, in the barony of Clifford, under the erroneous supposition that the ancient barony of that name was vested in his father. Though she claimed the barony in right of her father, no further proceedings seem to have been taken in the matter. On the death of Henry Clifford, fifth and last earl of Cumberland [q. v.], on 11 Dec. 1643, without male issue, the large family estates in the north reverted to her under the provisions of her father's will. Her passion for bricks and mortar was immense. She restored or rebuilt the castles of Skipton, Appleby, Brougham, Brough, Pendragon, and Bardon Tower, the churches of Appleby, Skipton, and Bongate, the chapels of Brougham, Ninekirks, Mallerstang, and Barden. She founded the almshouses at Appleby, and restored the one which had been built and endowed by her mother at Bethmesley. She also erected the monument to Spenser in Westminster Abbey, and that in Beckington Church in Somersetshire to her old tutor Daniel, while she raised a pillar on the road between Penrith and Appleby to mark the spot where she last parted from her mother. It was her custom to reside at fixed times at each one of her six castles, where she freely dispensed her charity and hospitality. But though generous to her friends and dependents, she was frugal in her personal expenses, dressing, after her second widowhood, in black serge, living abstemiously, and pleasantly boasting that 'she had never tasted wine and physic.' She was possessed of a very strong will, and was tenacious of her rights to the smallest point. Devoted to the church, she assisted many of the ejected clergy with her bounty. Having been carefully educated in her childhood, she was so well versed in different kinds of learning that Dr. Donne is reported to have said of her that 'she knew well how to discourse of all things, from predestination to slea-silk' (Funeral Sermon preached by Edward Rainbow, bishop of Carlisle, 1677, p. 38). This remarkable woman is, however, best known in the present day for the spirited answer which she is supposed to have given to Sir Joseph Williamson, who, when secretary of state to Charles II, had written to her, naming a candidate for her pocket borough of Appleby. To this she replied: 'I have been bullied by an usurper, I have been neglected by a court, but I will not be dictated to by a subject; your man shan't stand. Anne Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery.' This letter was first published in the 'World' for 5 April 1753, to which it was contributed by Horace Waipole. The reasons for doubting its genuineness are very strong : (1) No reference to the original was given at the time of its first publication, which occurred some seventy-seven years after the death of the countess, nor has any trace of it been since discovered; (2) the style is neither that of her own letters, which have been preserved, nor that of the time in which it was supposed to have been written; (3) Sir Joseph Williamson did not become secretary of state until 11 Sept. 1674, and during the period of time from the date of his appointment to the death of the countess there does not appear to have been any vacancy in the representation of Appleby (Parl. Papers, 1878, vol. lxii. pt. i. p. 530). She died at Brougham Castle on 22 March 1676, in the eighty-seventh year of her age, and was buried in the vault which she had built for that purpose in Appleby Church on 14 April following. The celebrated picture of the Clifford family at Appleby Castle (the long inscriptions for which were drawn up by the countess with the assistance, it is said, of Sir Matthew Hale) contains two representations of her at different periods of her life. The National Portrait Gallery possesses a portrait of the countess by an unknown painter, and an engraving of her portrait by Mytens, which was exhibited in the loan collection of portraits in 1866 (No. 512), will be found in Lodge, iv. 24.
The autobiography which she compiled in the sixty-third year of her life was formerly preserved at Skipton Castle, but is no longer there. It was among the list of suggested publications of the Camden Society, but the council could only procure the abridged manuscript, which was afterwards published by Mr. Hailstone in the 'Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute at York' (1846). This account of her life is written in the third person, and was taken from a small quarto volume containing an abstract of the great volumes of records which were 'collected by the care and painfull industry of that excellent lady Margaret Russell, Countess Dowager of Cumberland, out of the various offices and courts of this kingdome, to prove the right title which her only childe, the Lady Ann Clifford, now Countesse of Pembroke, had to the inheritance of her ancestors.'
In the British Museum is a manuscript entitled 'A Summary of the Lives of the Veteriponts, Cliffords, and Earls of Cumberland, and of the Lady Anne, Countess Dowager of Pembroke and Dorset, and Heir to George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, on whom ye name of the said Cliffords determined!' (Harl. MS. 6177). It is stated on the title-page that it was 'Copied from ye original Manuscript ye 29th of December 1737 by Henry Fisher,' but no mention is made of the original from which it is taken. This manuscript contains 'A Summary of the Records and a True Memorial of me the Life of the Lady Anne Clifford,' &c. pp. 119-206. It is written in the first person, and contains a much fuller account of her life than the one edited by Mr. Hailstone. Among the Hale MSS. in the Lincoln's Inn Library is a small folio (No. 104) relating to the pedigree of the countess and her title to the baronies of Clifford, Westmoreland, and Vesey.
There seems to be another manuscript of a similar character to the last among the Williamson MSS. in the library of Queen's College, Oxford (Coxe, Cat. Cod. MSS. pt. i.)
[Hartley Coleridge's Lives of Northern Worthies (1852), ii. 1-84; Lodge's Portraits (1854), iv. 24-7; Costello's Memoirs of Eminent English Women (1844), ii. 228-304; Pennant's Tour in Scotland (1790), iii. 355-62; Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors (Park), iii. 165-74; The World, i. 86 ; Biog. Brit. (Kippis), iii. 639-42 ; Whitaker's History of Craven (1878), iii. 355-62; Notes and Queries, 1st series, i. 28, 119, 154, ii.4, vii. 154, 245, xii. 2, 2nd series, i. 114, 3rd series, iii. 329, ix. 238, 306, 4th series, viii. 418.]