Clifton, Richard (DNB00)

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CLIFTON, RICHARD (d. 1616), puritan divine, became pastor of a Brownist congregation at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. Probably he was the Richard Clifton who, on 12 Feb. 1585, was instituted to the vicarage of Marnham, near Newark, and on 11 July 1586 to the rectory of Babworth, near Retford, and not very far from Scrooby. The separatist church in Nottinghamshire, which was probably Clifton's church, ordinarily met in Mr. Brewster's house at Scrooby. The celebrated John Robinson attached himself to Clifton's church, and was shortly afterwards chosen his assistant in the ministry; and on Clifton's removal to Holland became sole pastor of the church (Browne, Hist. of Congregationalism, p. 64).

To avoid persecution Clifton emigrated to Amsterdam in August 1608 (Dexter, Congregationalism of the last Three Hundred Years, pp. 317, 318, 380). He joined the other exiles there, and attached himself to the church of which Francis Johnson was pastor. He was, perhaps, on Ainsworth's secession (16 Dec. 1610) invested with the office of teacher among them (Hanbury, Historical Memorials relating to the Independents, i. 272). He is denominated the 'principal scribe' among the separatists, and is said to have written most to the purpose in defence of separation (Brook, Puritans, ii. 199). William Bradford describes him as a 'grave and fatherly old man when he left England, having a great white beard; ' and elsewhere as a 'grave and reverend preacher, who, by his pains and diligence, did much good.'

At Amsterdam he was engaged in several bitter controversies. Having renounced the principles of rigid separation he became one of the most violent adversaries of John Smyth, and published, 'A Plea for Infants and elder People concerning their Baptisme. Or a Processe of the Passages between M. Iohn Smyth and Richard Clifton,' Amsterdam, 1610, 4to. He also wrote 'An Advertisement concerning a book lately published by Christopher Lawne and others, against the Exiled English Church at Amsterdam,' 1612, 4to (Dexter, Bibliography of Congregationalism, No. 403). The book attacked is 'The prophane Schism of the Brownists or Separatists, with the impiety, dissensions, lewd and abominable vices of that impure Sect, discovered,' 1612. Henry Ainsworth published ' An Animadversion to Mr. Richard Clyftons Advertisement,' Amsterdam, 1613, 4to. Clifton died at Amsterdam on 20 May 1616.

[Hunter's Collections concerning the Founders of New Plymouth, pp. 17, 18, 40; Wilson's Dissenting Churches, i. 28, 29; Cotton's Congregational Churches, p. 7; Paget's Arrow against Separation, p. 8; Dexter' s Bibliography of Congregationalism, No. 367; Notes and Queries, April 1853, p. 354; Morse and Parish's Hist. of New England (1804), p. 22.]

T. C.