Manuscripts and Special Collections

Clifton Family of Clifton: a brief history

The Clifton family trace their lineage back to Alvaredus de Clifton, a Norman knight who was appointed Warden of Nottingham Castle in the time of William the Conquerer, and who took his name from the south Nottinghamshire village in which he settled. Sir Gervase de Clifton purchased the manors of Clifton and Wilford from the de Rodes family in the late 13th century.

The Clifton family built up a considerable estate in south Nottinghamshire, including the manor of Broughton Sulney [Upper Broughton], and lands in Kinoulton. The Clifton family continued to be based at Clifton Hall until it was sold in the 1950s.

Sir Gervase de Clifton (d 1324) served as Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1279 and on three other occasions, and was also Sheriff of Yorkshire four times. He was briefly imprisoned for irregularities relating to a writ. He sat as M.P. for Nottinghamshire in 1294, and many of his descendents also took up local positions.

A later Sir Gervase de Clifton (1313-1391) was Sheriff and Escheater for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1345, and M.P. in 1347-48, and in 1367 was a member of the Commission of Array for Nottinghamshire.

His grandson Sir John de Clifton sat as M.P. for Nottinghamshire in 1402 and was also Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. He was created a Knight Banneret on the morning of the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, but was killed later that day in the service of King Henry IV.

Sir John's marriage in 1382 to Catherine, daughter of Sir John Cressy, led to the Cliftons' acquisition of Hodsock and other estates in the north of Nottinghamshire, as well as in adjacent parts of Yorkshire. Sir Gervase Clifton (d 1453) also sat as M.P. for Nottinghamshire, in 1425-26, and was a magistrate for the county a number of times. His grandson Sir Gervase Clifton (1438-1491) was a loyal supporter of the Yorkists and received many honours and appointments including Treasurer of Calais in 1482. He fought at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 on the side of King Richard III.

One of the most illustrious members of the family was Sir Gervase Clifton (d 1588), known as 'Gervase the Gentle'. He succeeded his father while still an infant, and was a favourite of successive Tudor monarchs. He was succeeded by his own infant grandson, Gervase (1587-1666), known as 'Gervase the Great'. This Gervase was created a Baronet in 1611, and spent many years as an M.P. He was also known for having had seven wives.

Members of the Clifton family continued to take local offices and serve as Members of Parliament. With the sale of Hodsock Priory to the Mellish family in 1765 (see the Mellish papers, Me) the Clifton family began to concentrate their estates in south Nottinghamshire. When Sir Robert Clifton, the 9th Baronet, died in 1869 without issue, the estates descended to Henry Robert Markham, who took the name Clifton. Henry also died childless. The next owner of Clifton Hall was his second cousin, Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce. In 1919 his son Lt-Col. Percy Robert Bruce changed his family name to Clifton. The last Clifton owner of the estates was Lt-Col. Peter Thomas Clifton (1911-1996). In 1947 he sold 944 acres in Clifton to Nottingham City Council for a housing estate. In 1953 an auction of the contents of Clifton Hall took place, and Lt-Col. Clifton moved to Home Farm in Clifton. In 1958 he sold the remainder of his estate in Clifton and Barton in Fabis and moved to Dummer in Hampshire, severing the family's 700-year old links with the area.

The descent of the Clifton estate was as follows:

  • Sir Gervase de Clifton, knight (d 1324), m Amflicia, daughter of Sir William Sampson of Epperstone
  • [His son Sir Gervase de Clifton, knight (d c.1316), m Alicia, daughter of Sir Robert de Rabacy of Glapton, Notts, pre-deceased him]
  • His grandson Sir Robert de Clifton, knight (1297-1327), m Emma, daughter of Sir William de Moton
  • His son Sir Gervase de Clifton, knight (1313-1391), m (1) Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert de Pierrepont, (2) Isabella, possibly daughter of Harbord alias Finch, and widow of William Scot of Brabourne, Kent
  • [His son Sir Robert de Clifton (d before 1391), m Agnes, daughter of Lord Grey de Wilton, pre-deceased him]
  • His grandson Sir John de Clifton, knight banneret (d 1403), m Catherine, daughter of Sir John de Cressy of Hodsock
  • His son Sir Gervase Clifton, knight (d 1453), m Isabella, daughter of Sir Robert de Francis of Foremark, Derbyshire
  • His son Sir Robert Clifton, knight (d 1478), m Alice, daughter of John Booth of Barton, Lancashire
  • His son Sir Gervase Clifton, knight (d 1491), m (1) Alice, widow of Richard Thurland, daughter of Thomas Neville of Rolleston, (2) Agnes, widow of Sir Walter Griffith, daughter of Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough, Yorkshire
  • His son Sir Gervase Clifton, knight (d 1508), m (1) Agnes, daughter of Sir Walter Griffith of Flamborough, Yorkshire, (2) Joanna, widow of Sir Nicholas Byron, daughter of John de Bussy of Houghton, Lincolnshire
  • His son Robert Clifton (d 1518), m (1) Alice, daughter of Sir Simon Digby, (2) Anne, daughter of Henry, 10th Lord de Clifford
  • His son Sir Gervase Clifton, knight (d 1588), 'Gervase the Gentle'
  • His grandson Sir Gervase Clifton, 1st Baronet (1587-1666), 'Gervase the Great'
  • [His first son Sir Gervase Clifton, 2nd Baronet (c.1612-1676) was disinherited from the family estates]
  • His second son Sir Clifford Clifton (1626-1670)
  • His son Sir William Clifton, 3rd Baronet (1663-1686)
  • His cousin Sir Gervase Clifton, 4th Baronet (d 1731)
  • His son Sir Robert Clifton, 5th Baronet (1690-1762)
  • His son Sir Gervase Clifton, 6th Baronet (1744-1815)
  • His son Sir Robert Clifton, 7th Baronet (1767-1837)
  • His brother Sir Juckes Granville Juckes-Clifton, 8th Baronet (1769-1852)
  • His son Sir Robert Juckes-Clifton, 9th Baronet (1826-1869)
  • His cousin's son Henry Robert Markham, assumed surname Clifton 1869 (1832-1896)
  • His second cousin Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce, 4th Baronet (1843-1919)
  • His second son Lt-Col. Percy Robert Bruce, assumed surname Clifton 1919 (1872-1844)
  • His son Lt-Col. Peter Thomas Clifton (1911-1996)


Genealogical Sources

  • Burke's Landed Gentry
  • G.E.C.'s The Complete Baronetage
  • History of Parliament, 1715-54
  • History of Parliament, 1660-1690


Next page:  Family Seats


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651