Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Constable, Thomas Hugh Clifford

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CONSTABLE, Sir THOMAS HUGH CLIFFORD (1762–1823), topographer and botanist, was the eldest son of Thomas Clifford (fourth son of Hugh, third Lord Clifford of Chudleigh), and Barbara Aston, youngest daughter and coheiress of James, fifth lord Aston of Forfar. His parents being catholics sent him to be educated in the academy opened at Liège by the English ex-jesuits after their expulsion from Bruges (Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of the English Catholics, i. 656); and he continued his studies at the college of Navarre, in Paris, after which he travelled on foot over Switzerland. Having lost his mother in 1786, and his father in 1787, he settled at Tixall in Staffordshire, the estate of the Astons, which he inherited from his mother; and he married in 1791 Mary Macdonald, second daughter of John Chichester of Arlington, Devonshire. During his residence at Bath he gave a cordial welcome to the French emigrants, and when Louis XV in visited that city in 1813, a few months before the Restoration, he twice invited him to his table (Annuaire Nécrologique,, 1824, p. 387). By patent dated 22 May 1816 Clifford was created a baronet at the particular request of Louis XVIII. In 1821 he succeeded to the estates of Francis Constable, esq., of Burton Constable and Wycliffe Hall (Gent. Mag. 1823, i. 470), and two years later he was, by royal sign-manual, allowed to take the name of Constable only. He died at Ghent on 26 Feb. 1823.

Of his extensive knowledge of botany he has left a proof in the 'Flora Tixalliana,' appended to the 'Historical and Topographical Description of the Parish of Tixall' (Paris, 1817, 4to, privately printed), which he composed in conjunction with his brother, Arthur Clifford [q. v.], and to which he furnished almost all the materials (Gent. Mag. 1830, i. 274). One copy of this work was printed on elephant folio, for the purpose of illustration; in the embellishment of which Sir Thomas was employed at the time of his death (Martin, Privately Printed Books, p. 156, 157). He projected a ‘History of the Normans’ and made considerable progress with it; he translated La Fontaine's ‘Fables’ into English verse; and in his later years he completed a new metrical version of the Psalms. He produced also a work in French entitled ‘L’Evangile Médité.’ From this he extracted forty ‘Meditations on the Divinity and Passion of Christ,’ which he translated into English and published at his own expense (Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. v. 511*).

[Authorities cited above; Addit. MS. 24867, at 115, 122.]

T. C.