He married, about 1453, Margaret Bromflete, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Bromflete, Knt., Lord Vescy, of Londesborough, Yorkshire, by his 2nd wife, Eleanor Fitz Hugh, daughter of Henry Fitz Hugh, K.G., 3rd Lord Fitz Hugh, Lord High Treasurer. They had 3 children:
John, a Lancastrian, supported the traditional allies of his family, the Percy family, who were in a bitter feud with the House of Neville in Yorkshire. On 24 August 1453, John joined Thomas Percy and Sir Richard Percy when they tried to ambush the returning wedding party of Thomas Neville and Maud Stanhope at Heworth Moor in North Yorkshire.
Orphaned at Twenty
Some time before May 1453, when John was about 18 years old, his mother died. This was when his father contracted to marry Elizabeth Dacre, a lady in waiting to Queen Margaret of Anjou. However, this marriage never took place. Two years later, on 22 May 1455, his father was killed at the 1st Battle of St. Albans, the first battle in the Wars of the Roses, leaving him an orphan. John was still under age at the time, and was not able to prove his age in order to obtain his lands until 16 June 1456.
In February 1458 and 'with a grete power' John demanded compensation for his father's death at St. Albans. King Henry VI and his council intervened, and ordered that the Duke of York and the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick should pay the monastery of St. Albans to establish masses for Thomas Clifford and the other notable Lancastrians who died during the battle and pay their children a notable sum of money.
The Battle of Wakefield and the title of "The Butcher"
In 1460 John was appointed Warden of the West March, which made him responsible for part of the border with Scotland. He was ordered to raise soldiers for the Lancastrian cause. On 31 December 1460 he fought in the Battle of Wakefield, a major Lancastrian victory. He was knighted immediately before the battle. Some of the leading Yorkists died in or immediately after the battle, including Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, himself and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and York's brother-in-law, Sir Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury.
John is said to have killed Edmund, Earl of Rutland himself: long after John’s own death, lurid accounts were written portraying John slaughtering Edmund (in some accounts Edmund is wrongly said to have been a boy of 12) in a brutal and pitiless way. Writing in about 1540, the antiquary John Leland wrote that John Clifford killed so many during the battle that he was known as the "boucher", that is, butcher. The much later account by the chronicler Holinshed that John cut off the head of the Duke of York after the battle and presented it decked with a paper crown to Queen Margaret of Anjou is almost certainly invention.
The Battle of Ferrybridge and Death
The Battle of Ferrybridge was a small engagement between the houses of York and Lancaster before the larger Battle of Towton. On 27 Mar 1461, the Earl of Warwick, forced a crossing at Ferrybridge, which the Lancastrians had previously destroyed, by bridging the gaps with planks. Early the next morning the Yorkists were ambushed by a large party of Lancastrians under Sir John Clifford and Lord John Neville and again destroyed the bridge. Warwick sent his uncle, Lord Fauconberg with the Yorkist cavalry upstream where they crossed the ford at Castleford and pursued Lord Clifford.
John Clifford's men retreated north, but they were caught at Dinting Dale, to the northeast of the village of Saxton and not far from the main Lancastrian army. He was killed on 28 Mar 1461, 11 days shy of his 27th birthday, by a chance arrow to his throat after loosening the straps on his bevor (an armor piece designed to protect the mouth and throat), possibly so he could breathe better, scan the battlefield more quickly and shout commands. It was said he was buried in a pit with the others slain there. All of his titles and estates were then forfeited through a posthumous attainder by the first parliament in the reign of King Edward IV on 4 Nov 1461.
↑ 1.01.11.21.184.108.40.206.71.8 Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham (Salt Lake City: the author, 2013), volume II, page 246-248 CLIFFORD 15-16. See also WikiTree's source page for Royal Ancestry.
↑ The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. Vol XVIII. John Whitehead & Son:1905. Pg 365.
↑ 4.04.14.24.34.44.5 Cokayne, George E., The complete peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom : extant, extinct, or dormant, Vol 3. London : The St. Catherine Press, Ltd. 1910. Pg 293-294.
↑ Douglas Richardson. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham (Salt Lake City: the author, 2013), volume V, page 481 Appendix Line B and C. 8th great grandfather of Maud of Flanders, wife of William The Conqueror