Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clough, Richard

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1319668Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 11 — Clough, Richard1887Gordon Goodwin

CLOUGH, RICHARD (d. 1570), merchant and factor for Sir Thomas Gresham, came of a family which had been long seated in North Wales. His father, Richard Clough, was of sufficient consideration in Denbigh, where he followed the trade of a glover, to marry into two families of note; his first wife was a Whittingham of Chester, and his second wife the daughter of Humphrey Holland. He survived to so great an age that he obtained the epithet of Hen, or The Old, having lived, it is said, during the reigns of Henry VII and VIII, of Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. Of his five sons Richard was the youngest. In his boyhood 'he went,' says Fuller, 'to be a chorister in the city of Chester. Some were so affected with his singing therein, that they were loath he should lose himself in empty air (church musick beginning then to be discountenanced), and persuaded, yea, procured his removal to London' (Worthies, Flintshire, ed. 1662, p. 39). In the fervour of youthful zeal he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was created a knight of the Holy Sepulchre, 'though not,' observes Fuller, ' owning it after his return under Queen Elizabeth, who disdained her subjects should accept of such foraign honour.' The badge of the order, the five crosses, was afterwards borne by him in his arms. Pennant and other popular writers have in consequence styled him 'Sir' Richard Clough, by which designation he is still known among his descendants. It is uncertain whether it was before or after this pilgrimage that he entered the service of Sir Thomas Gresham, under whose auspices he was admitted a member of the Mercers' Company. In 1552 he went to reside permanently at Antwerp, where he both carried on business as a merchant on his own account and acted in various matters as factor for Gresham. His more important duties were in connection with Gresham's offices of queen's merchant and financial agent, and the adroitness which he manifested both in negotiating loans and in smuggling money, arms, and foreign goods secured him the entire confidence and friendship of his employer. His voluminous correspondence with Gresham, the greater bulk of which may be found in the Record Office, is by no means confined to dry commercial details. Although he had perhaps only two or three days before sent Gresham an account of his proceedings ' at large,' it was nothing unusual for him to cover ten or twenty sides more of foolscap with the description of a pageant, a state funeral, or some other subject involving long details, in which he delighted. To Clough Sir William Cecil was indebted for a considerable portion of his information respecting the Low Countries. His letters were regularly forwarded to the minister by Gresham, who never fails to speak most handsomely of his factor's abilities, although obliged to confess now and then that 'he is very long and tedious in his writing.'

At the beginning of 1560 Gresham availed himself of an offer made by Count Mansfeld to advance a large sum of money for the use of the English government. He accordingly sent Clough, about 24 April, to attend the council at London in company with the count's negotiator, one Hans Keck. Clough got back to Antwerp on 9 May, and a few days later was despatched by Cecil's recommendation to the count at his estate of Mansfeld in Saxony in order to bring matters to a final issue. Here he was given 'marvellous interteynment,' and on his departure in June was presented by the count with 'a silver standing-cup of the vallew of xx. lib.,' while the countess sent him by one of her gentlewomen 'a littel feather of gold and silver of the vallew of x. lib.' The negotiation, however, ultimately failed.

In December 1561 Clough, writing to Gresham, suggested the erection of an exchange for merchants in London after the model of the burse at Antwerp, and he became a zealous promoter of the work. By his advice a Flemish architect, by name Hendrix, was engaged, and most of the materials and workmanship were imported from Antwerp under his supervision. At length, after twelve years of such service abroad, Clough felt anxious to return to Wales for a brief retirement. He therefore, in February 1563-4, petitioned Cecil, through Gresham, 'to helpe hym to a lease for xxj yeres of serteyn landes of the Quenes Majesties lying in Wales of the yerely vallew of xxvij li. by yere.' Leaseholds in the counties of Carnarvon, Flint, Nottingham, and Buckingham were granted to him in the following year (Jones, Index to Records, vol. i., Originalia temp. Eliz.), but there is no evidence to show that he went home just then. Probably the commencement of the disturbances in the Low Countries rendered his presence at Antwerp more necessary than ever. Meanwhile he corresponded with his accustomed regularity, giving the particulars of every 'marvellous stir' with all the minuteness of a Dutch painter. It was not until the middle of April 1567 that he was able to make a hasty excursion into Wales, there to marry, after a brief courtship, the fair Katharine Tudor, better known as Katharine of Berain, the widow of John Salusbury, son and heir of Sir John Salusbury, knt., of Lleweni, near Denbigh, and daughter and heiress of Tudor ap Robert Fychan of Berain in the same county. In this same year he began building, in a retired valley near Denbigh, the house of Bachegraig, and two miles further, on a beautiful elevated bank, another house, to which he gave the name of Plâs Clough. Both houses were built in the Dutch style and probably by Dutch workmen. After a few days' visit to Gresham in London, Clough returned with his bride to Antwerp in May to find the city at the height of a religious crisis. It is probable that he soon quitted Antwerp to travel for nearly three months in Spain. He returned, however, to Flanders, where he continued to reside throughout 1567 and 1568, making occasional visits to Wales. In January 1569 he reported the arrest of the English merchants at Antwerp. He himself managed to effect his escape, only to be arrested a few weeks later at Dieppe with letters for the English government in his possession. The intervention of Cecil soon procured his release, and he was allowed to return home unmolested. Arrived in London he found the fleet of the merchant-adventurers on the eve of its departure for Hamburg, it having been at last resolved to transfer the seat of commerce from Antwerp to that city. There is little doubt that Clough on this occasion went over to Hamburg in the honourable capacity of deputy of the Fellowship of the Merchant-Adventurers (April 1569). His connection with Gresham was now severed, their correspondence had ceased, and the remaining glimpses of Clough are few and of little interest. He died of a lingering illness at Hamburg when in the prime of life, some time between 11 March and 19 July 1570. He could have scarcely passed his fortieth year at the time of his death, which was mourned by all Welsh bards of note, among others by John Tudor, Simwnt Fychan, and William Cynwal. He was buried at Hamburg, but, in compliance with his request, his heart, and some add his right hand, were brought to England in a silver urn and deposited in the church of Whitchurch, the parish church of Denbigh. Clough began to write his will with ' his own hand ' at Antwerp on 20 Sept. 1568, when, as he says, he was ' in ryghte good healthe and mery.' But on 26 Feb. 1569-70 he drew up a document, which he made his wife and two intimate friends sign, bequeathing all his movable goods to Gresham, a fact which adds weight to Fuller's assertion 'that it was agreed betwixt him [Clough] and Sir Thomas Gresham that the survivor should be chief heir to both.' Gresham, however, renounced the document just cited when the earlier will was proved, on 9 Nov. 1570 (Reg. in P. C. C. 23 and 37, Lyon). By Katharine of Berain, Clough had two daughters, Anne, born in 1568, and Mary, born in 1569. Bachegraig was inherited by his eldest daughter, who married Roger Salusbury, younger son of Sir John Salusbury, knt., of Lleweni, and it continued in this family until it ended in an heiress, Mrs. Thrale, afterwards Piozzi, herself a Salusbury. A curious house in Denbigh, also built by Clough, together with Maenan Abbey in Carnarvonshire, came by marriage to the husband of his younger daughter, William Wynn of Melai, Denbighshire, and is now possessed by their descendant, Lord Newborough. Plas Clough fell to a natural and ' forraine borne ' son, Richard, and has continued up to the present day in the possession of his descendants. He married Mary, daughter of John Drihurst of Denbigh. Clough meditated many plans for the benefit of his native land; among others he intended to make the Clwyd navigable as far as Ruddlan, introduce commerce into the heart of the country, and convert the sides of the court of his house, Bachegraig, into magazines for dispensing his imports. To Denbigh, his birthplace, he left the one hundred pounds which he had lent in his lifetime to the town towards the founding of a free school, but no result came of this bequest. His fortune was in fact so large that 'Eve a aeth yn Glough' (he is become a Clough) passed into a proverb on the attainment of wealth by any person. During his long residence at Antwerp he formed an acquaintance with Ortelius, and ultimately became the medium of communication between the latter and his fellow-townsman Humphrey Llwyd, the celebrated Welsh historian and antiquary (see letter from Llwyd, dated 5 April 1568, at the end of Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, where he mentions Clough with affection, and styles him 'vir integerrimus'). A portrait of its founder still hangs at Plâs Clough, apparently the work of some Flemish artist, of which a poor engraving is given at page 446 of the third edition of Pennant's ' Account of London.'

Mrs. Clough, when her husband's death had left her for a second time a widow, became the wife of Morris Wynn of Gwydyr, Carnarvonshire, after whose decease she took for a fourth and last husband Edward Thelwall of Plâs y Ward, Denbighshire. The rapidity with which this lady supplied the place of her husbands as she lost them forms the subject of an amusing anecdote in Pennant's 'Tour in Wales,' ed. 1784, ii. 29-30. She died on 27 Aug. 1591, and was buried on 1 Sept. at Llanyfydd, Denbighshire.

[Burgon's Life and Times of Sir T. Gresham; Harl. MS. 1971, f. 95; Burke's Landed Gentry, 6th ed. i. 328; Fuller's Worthies, Flintshire (ed. 1662), pp. 39-40; Williams's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Welshmen, pp. 76-8; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire, iii. 273; Johnson's Diary of a Journey into North Wales (1816), p. 51; Pennant's Tour in Wales, ed. 1784, ii. 24-7, 29-30; Pennant's Account of London, 3rd ed. p. 446; Nicholas's Counties and County Families of Wales, i. 393, 444.]

G. G.