John Clifford
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John Clifford (1435 - 1461)

Sir John "9th Lord Clifford, of Appleby and Westmorland, Black-faced Clifford, The Butcher" Clifford
Born in Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1453 in Conisborough Castle, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Ferrybridge, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 9 May 2011
This page has been accessed 4,398 times.
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John Clifford is a descendant of a Magna Carta surety baron.
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John Clifford is a descendant of a number of Surety Barons. See below.



John Clifford was a member of aristocracy in England.

Birth and Parentage

Sir John Clifford, Knt., 9th Lord Clifford, of Appleby, Westmorland, was born at Conisbrough Castle, Yorkshire, on 8 Apr 1435, the heir of Thomas Clifford, the 8th Baron, and his wife Joan Dacre.[1][2] He was a beneficiary of 12 silver dishes[3] in the will, dated 15 Aug 1446,[4] of his great aunt and godmother Maud Clifford, widow of Richard of York, Knt., Earl of Cambridge.[1] John inherited, from his father Thomas Clifford, the barony of Clifford,[4][5] the family seat at Skipton Castle,[5] and the hereditary office of High Sheriff of Westmorland.[4][5]

Marriage and Issue

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:[1]

1) Henry, b. 1454[1][6]
2) Richard[1]
3) Elizabeth, m. Sir Robert Aske[1]

Feud with the Nevilles

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.[5]

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.[1] 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.[2][4]

In February 1458 and 'with a grete power' John demanded compensation for his father's death at St. Albans.[4] 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.[2][7]

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.[2] On 31 December 1460 he fought in the Battle of Wakefield, a major Lancastrian victory.[2] He was knighted immediately before the battle.[2][8] 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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2] 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[9] is almost certainly invention.[4][10]

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.[10][11]

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,[1] 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.[12][13] It was said he was buried in a pit with the others slain there.[2] All of his titles and estates were then forfeited through a posthumous attainder[2] by the first parliament in the reign of King Edward IV on 4 Nov 1461.[5]

His widow Margaret married Sir Lancelot Threlkeld[2] before 14 May 1467.[1]

Research Notes

Royal Ancestors

Through his father:
Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor[14] - 22th great grandfather.
William I, "The Conqueror", King of England[15] - 12th great grandfather.
Henry II, King of England[16] - 9th great grandfather.
Philippe IV, King of France [17] - 6th great grandfather.
Edward I, "Longshanks", King of England[18] - 6th great grandfather.
Edward III, King of England[6] - 4th great grandfather.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 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.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Clifford, John, ninth Baron Clifford', print an online 2004: revised online 2011, available online via some libraries
  3. The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. Vol XVIII. John Whitehead & Son:1905. Pg 365.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 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.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 John Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford, Wikipedia page
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mahler, Leslie: "Samuel Levis, Quaker Immigrant to Pennsylvania", The Genealogist, Spring 1999, Vol 13, No 1, p. 30-31(PDF download)
  7. The History Jar Black-Faced Clifford
  8. W A Shaw. The Knights of England, Vol. II, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906, p. 12, Internet Archive
  9. Luminarium: Encyclopedia Project, JOHN DE CLIFFORD, 9TH BARON CLIFFORD
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wikipedia: John Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford
  11. Wikipedia: Battle of Ferrybridge
  12. Rickard, J (2 December 2013), Battle of Ferrybridge, 27-28 March 1461
  13. Medieval Wars: The Battle of Towton in Yorkshire
  14. 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
  15. Great grandfather of Henry II (
  16. Great grandfather of Edward I (
  17. Maternal grandfather of Edward III of England (
  18. Grandfather of Edward III (
See also:
  • Richardson, Douglas: Plantagenet Ancestry, 2nd edn. (2011), 3 vols,Volume 1, page 543, CLIFFORD 13.
  • Richardson, Douglas: Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd edn. (2011), 4 vols, Volume 1, page 508, CLIFFORD 11.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Clifford, John, ninth Baron Clifford', print an online 2004: revised online 2011, available online via some libraries
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, entry for 'Clifford, John de', Wikisource
  • Cockburn-Hood, Thomas. The House of Cockburn of that Ilk and the Cadets Thereof (Scott and Ferguson, Edinburgh, 1888), p. 362, 'Pedigree of Veteri-Ponte and Clifford of Westmoreland', Internet Archive: citing British Museum, Harley MS. 1160, f. 75.


Thank you to all that have contributed to this profile of John Clifford:

Magna Carta Project

John Clifford is a descendant of a number of Magna Carta Surety Barons:
See Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails. See the project's glossary for project-specific terms, such as a "Gateway Guardian".
This profile was reviewed/approved for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley on 9 February 2020.

Magna Carta Trail

Trail from Samuel Levis to Surety Baron Saher de Quincy
From Thomas Clifford to Saher de Quincy the trail has been badged by the Magna Carta Project.
  1. Samuel Levis was the son of Mary Need
  2. Mary Need was the daughter of Humphrey Need
  3. Humphrey Need was the son of Mary Melford
  4. Mary Melford was the daughter of Thomas Melford
  5. Thomas Melford was the son of Anne Clifford
  6. Anne Clifford was the daughter of Henry Clifford
  7. Henry Clifford was the son of John Clifford
  8. John Clifford was the son of Thomas Clifford
  9. Thomas Clifford was the son of John Clifford
  10. John Clifford was the son of Thomas de Clifford
  11. Thomas de Clifford was the son of Roger de Clifford
  12. Roger de Clifford was the son of Robert de Clifford
  13. Robert de Clifford was the son of Maud de Clare
  14. Maud de Clare was the daughter of Thomas de Clare
  15. Thomas de Clare was the son of Maud de Lacy
  16. Maud de Lacy was the daughter of Margaret de Quincy
  17. Margaret de Quincy was the daughter of Robert de Quincy
  18. Robert de Quincy was the son of Surety Baron Saher de Quincy

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Comments: 3

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I am removing the coat of arms as a background image. It gave me acute visual disturbances, as Bridget Riley paintings do. This can be a migraine-associated phenomenon, and I doubt I am the only WT member for whom this is true. We had a complaint from another member posted on another profile where this coat of arms was used as a background image.
posted by Michael Cayley
edited by Michael Cayley
I have reviewed this profile for the Magna Carta Project. If anyone spots any typos etc, please either correct them or send me a message. Thanks!
posted by Michael Cayley
I have completed the main work I intend for this profile and updated the Magna Carta Trail to include sourcing from 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.
posted by John Sigh Jr.

John is 19 degrees from Laurie Giffin, 31 degrees from Toni Morrison and 6 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.