Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clifford, Margaret

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CLIFFORD, MARGARET, Countess of Cumberland (1560?–1616), was the wife of George Clifford, third earl of Cumberland [q. v.], to whom she was married, 24 June 1577, at St. Mary Overies (now St. Saviour's), Southwark. She was the third and youngest daughter of Francis Russell, third earl of Bedford, and was born at Exeter about 7 July 1560 (Whitaker, p. 342). Her husband's intrigue with a certain court lady led to his separation from his wife, who, however, together with her daughter Anne [see Clifford, Anne], was present at his death 30 Oct. 1605. The next few years were occupied in collecting documents in support of the claim of her daughter to the family estates, which the last earl had, by a will dated only eleven days before his death, left to his brother Francis and his heirs male. On 12 Oct. 1607 the dowager countess and her daughter were denied entrance to Skipton Castle. She died at Brougham Castle in Westmoreland 24 May 1616, leaving the great lawsuit to be settled by a compromise dated 14 March 1617. Her daughter was present at her burial, which took place 7 July in Appleby Church, where her monument may still be seen.

The Countess Margaret seems to have been an affectionate mother. Her daughter Anne describes her as a 'woman of greate naturall wit and judgment, of a swete disposition, truly religious and virtuous, and endowed with a large share of those four moral virtues, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The death of her two sonnes did so much afflict her as that ever after the booke of Jobe was her dayly companion.' She was also a lady with some pretension to literary tastes. In her portrait as it is preserved in the great family picture, drawn up for her husband in June 1589, she is represented holding the Psalms in her hands. A manuscript note in a Bodleian copy of Walpole's 'Noble Authors' ascribes to her 'some beautiful verses in the stile of Spencer.' They are said to appear on the monument of Richard Candish of Suffolk, in Hornsey Church, Middlesex (Auct. Bodleian. D. 111, pp. 172-3). Perhaps her highest praise is to be found in the pains with which she educated her daughter Anne for her high station. Samuel Daniel [q. v.], whom she engaged as her daughter's tutor from her tenderest years, dedicated to her several poems.

[The principal authorities for the preceding life are the inscriptions on the great family pictures at Skipton and Appleby. These, with many monumental inscriptions of great value for dates and genealogies, may be found in Whitaker's Graven, ed. Morant, 1878. See also A True Memoriall of the Life of Lady Anne Clifford, dictated by herself, in the York volume of the Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute (1846); Dugdale's Baronage, i. 345; Daniel's poems in Chalmers's English Poets, iii. 629-32.]

T. A. A.