Clifford Coat of Arms
An ally of the Percy family in the NEVILLE PERCY FEUD, which helped instigate the civil disturbances of the 1450s, Thomas Clifford, eighth Lord Clifford, was slain by the Yorkists at the Battle of ST.ALBANS in 1455. His death turned his son into an implacable foe of the house of YORK and was the cause of one of several feuds among the English PEERAGE that embittered political relations on the eve of the WARS OF THE ROSES.
Thomas Clifford came of age and was first summoned to PARLIAMENT as Lord Clifford in 1436. He was one of the lords who accompanied William de la POLE, earl of Suffolk, to FRANCE in 1444 to escort MARGARET OF ANJOU to England for her marriage to HENRYVI. As one of the leading magnates of the north, Clifford, along with the Nevilles and Percies, was excused attendance in Parliament in 1449 to defend the border from possible invasion by the Scots. In 1451, Clifford was part of an embassy to JAMES II of SCOTLAND, and he also served in the 1450s as sheriff of Westmorland.
Clifford accompanied the royal army that confronted Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, at DARTFORD in 1452, and he supported Henry PERCY, earl of Northumberland, and his sons in their ongoing quarrel with Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, and his sons in the mid-1450s. When the Nevilles allied themselves with York and took up arms against the king in 1455, Clifford naturally supported Henry VI and led the defense of the barricades against the Yorkist attack at the Battle of St. Albans on 22 May. Like Northumberland and Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, who were also slain in the fighting, Clifford was likely marked as a special enemy and targeted for death by the Yorkist forces. Clifford’s death at the hands of the Yorkists had an important effect on the WARS OF THE ROSES, for it turned his son, John CLIFFORD, ninth Lord Clifford, into a staunch supporter of the house of Lancaster and a bitter personal enemy of York and the NEVILLE FAMILY.
Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Storey,R. L., The End of the House of Lancaster, 2d ed. (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1999).