See also

Henry ( - )

1. Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, son of Henry Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland (c. 1449-1489) and Maud HERBERT ( -bef1486), appeared in the census.


Henry Algernon Percy, fifth earl of Northumberland (1478-1527), magnate, sometimes known as the Magnificent, was born on 14th January 1478, the eldest son of Henry Percy, fourth earl of Northumberland (c.1449-1489) and Maud ( or before 1485), daughter of William Herbert, first earl of Pembroke. Alan Percy, who became master of St. John's College, Cambridge, was his younger brother. Northumberland succeeded his father aged eleven when the latter was murdered at Cocklodge, near Thirsk, on 28th April, 1489. The young earl was made a knight of the Bath on 21st November 1489 and a knight of the Garter in 1495. He received livery of his estates in 1498.

Following the overthrown of Richard III, the fourth earl had raised the standing of his family to new heights, essentially through the holding of crown offices. Despite the views of some historians, there is no reason to believe that the fourth earl's death was either contrived by or welcome to Henry VII. The challenge for the fifth earl was to restore this standing after a decade's atrophy. The vacuum in northern government left by his father's death had been filled by a council under the earl of Surrey, acting as lieutenant first to Prince Arthur and then, after 1494, to Prince Henry. But whereas it might have been decided to wind up the northern council on the fifth earl's attaining his majority, the decision was taken to keep it in existence under Thomas Savage, archbishop of York, again as lieutenant to Prince Henry. The earl's frustration at his inability to recover his father's position was acknowledged in loose talk by some of his servants reported in 1509: "that if their lord had not room in the North as his father had, it should not be long well (LP Henry VIII, 1/1, no.157).

His efforts to re-create a regional hegemony brought Northumberland into a series of conflicts with Savage and others, especially over Beverley, in his father's day a Percy town. The earl was indicted by Savage for retaining in 1502 and 1504. Then on 23 May 1504, as earl and archbishop were both leaving York with their retinues at about the same time, their parties became entangled at Fulford, south of the cirty, and a fracas took place in which Northumberland was assaulted. Depositions taken afterwards reveal the antipathy between the two men, and also show the deep hostility between their respective households. Both men were forced to enter bonds with the council in November for their future good conduct. It may be suggested that this unexpected confliect ruined the reputation of both men. Northumberland continued on a career of minor brigandage and was the subject of complaints laid before the council in Star Chamber. In 1505 he was fined ?0,000 - ?,000 on a recognizance at the king's pleasure and ?,000 to be paid at 1000 marks per annum - for abducting Elizabeth Hastings, the duaghter and heir of Sir John Hastings of Fenwick in Yorkshire; her subsequent death in the earl's custody deprived the crown of her wardship. Northumberland assigned manors to feoffees for the payment of this fine. Edmund Dudley, when clearing his conscience after being arrested in 1509, recalled that the king had intended to demand only ?,000, although Dudley thought that even this was excessive for the offence. In fact, ?,000 had been paid by the time of the king's death: the outstanding balance was forgiven in 1510. The earl's servants were accused of violence against Sir John Hotham in 1506, and in 1516 he was himself imprisoned in the Fleet for contempt of the council's jurisdiction in private suits, although his exact offence is unrecorded.

Not only did neither Henry VII nor Henry VIII show any inclination to concede ground to the earl in Yorkshire, they also went out of their way to deny him the border offices which an earl of Northumberland might expect to exercise and was best equipped to fulfil. When the earl was made warden-general of the Marches in June 1503, it was merely a ceremonial post to escort Margaret Tudor into Scotland. Thereafter he never held office on the borders, the middle and east marches falling under the control of Thomas, second Baron Dacre, from 1511 onwards. This was not for any lack of military capability on Northumberland's part. In 1497 he served in the royal army against the Cornish rebels and fought at Blackheath. He led his gentry and their tenants from Northumberland, Cumberland and Yorkshire to France in 1513. In 1523 he served on the Scottish borders. By 1522 Dacre was urging that Northumberland's eldest son, Henry, be appointed warden in his place, a choice which perhaps recognized that the fifth earl was still unacceptable to Henry VIII. Hall, however, is the sole authority for the statement that Northumberland was offered and accepted the wardenship in the autumn of 1522, but that he subsequently lobbied the council to be discharged, resigning probably early in 1523 in favour of Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey. This cannot be verified, and some have thought it unlikely.

Perhaps because Northumberland lacked opportunites for military service, most of his public appearances were ceremonial in character. Thus he escorted Queen Margaret of Scotland from Yokr to the border in 1517 (and subsequently complained of the cost). He was among those who attended the king at the Field of Cloth of Gold and was present when Henry met Charles V in 1522. In 1525 he assisted at the ceremony at which Henry Fitzroy was created Duke of Richmond. Northumberland died at Wressle on 19th May 1527 and was buried in Beverley Minster, with little ceremony, probably on 6 June.

Even if, as Hall says, Northumberland's rapid surrender of the wardenship in 1522/3 led to his not being "regarded of his own tenants which disdained him and his blood and much lamented his folly, and all men esteemed him without heart or love of honour and chivalry" (Hall, 652), he still controlled a considerable force. In the 1530's the Percy estates in Northumberland could raise 1,967 men under the command of the constable of Alnwick, the Yorkshire lands 2,280 horse and 3,953 foot, and the Cumberland estates 1,030 horse and 2,011 foot. It seems unliely that a force on such a scale was ever deployed, however: for the earl's retinue drawn from Yorkshire, when it mustered at Newcastle in 1523, totalled 762 men, of whom 170 were drawn from stewardships under his control and not his estate.

As for his wealth, it is clear that the fifth earl of Northumberland was among the richest peers of his generation. Although he was assessed for the subsidy at ?,920 in 1523, it has been suggested that his rental income would have been about ?,700, and his clear income after the deduction of fees and other expenses about ?,600. There is little compelling evidence that the earl was significantly in debt at the time of his death. While he may be thought to have deserved it, the sobriquet of the Magnificent which is sometimes applied to him dates only from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and probably aries from the impression created by the publication of his household book in 1770. This describes an opulent and well-organized household, which in 1511-12 was financed out of an assignment of ?33 6s.8d; slightly later it was in receipt of ?,000 yearly. In fact the long familiar household book is only the first of a pair - a second, a volume of chapel and other regulationss, was purchased by the Bodleian library in 1962 (now MS Eng.hist.b.208). The books shed a little light on the earl's intellectual tastes, providing, for instance, that his almoner should be a "a maker of Interludys" (James, 83). Northumberland is also said to have endowed a teacher of grammar and philosophy at Alnwick Abbey, and, in a letter to his son-in-law the first earl of Cumberland, he justified the appointment of a chantry priest to keep a grammar school at Cockermouth as a "marvelous good and meritorious deed" (Hoyle, "Letters of the Cliffords", 94-5). The earl's secretary, William Peeris, wrote a verse chronicle of the family, which he presented to his master as a new year's gift. Leland described an impressive library at Wressle which has almost totally disappeared.

Northumberland may best be seen as a transitional figure. As a young man he attempted to dominate through the violent exercise of his power. Loose talk by his household servants revealed the scale of his ambitions. His imprisonment in 1516 - for whatever reason - shows that he had not lost his capacity to challenge royal authority in the pursuit of his private objectives. Hence he was among those nobles - the Duke of Buckingham being another - whom in a famously paranoid letter of 1519 or 1520 the king instructed Wolsey to keep watch over. Wolsey himself reassured Northumberland that he was not suspected of collusion with Buckingham after the latter's execution. This did not prevent the cardinal from interfering when the earl's son became emotionally involved with Anne Boleyn some time in the early 1520's. In any case royal suspicion of Northumberland, and the latter's tactless disregard for royal authority, seem to have led him to be excluded from office. Fears of the earl's latent power continued even after his death: Wolsey's interference in the arrangements for the earl's funeral have been read as an example of the cardinal's belief in the incompetence of the sixth earl, but it testifies equally to a determination that the funeral should be a low-key affair and not a demonstration of pro-Percy sentiment.

One of the few manuscripts known to survive from Northumberland's library contains an emblematic drawing of a Tudor rose representing the sun in which is framed a figure (probably the young Henry VIII). From this sun there fall drops of liquid onto an eye (itself weeping) contained within a crescent moon (a Percy badge). Under this lie verses, the first of which is "I receyve noo lighte but of thy beames bright" (Dickens, 42): the Percy moon reflected only the rays of the Tudor sun and no longer emitted any light of its own. The proverbs painted in the high chamber at Leconfield also point to an essential pessimism about life and its stability: no hope should be placed in the world, riches, or honour, for all are uncertain or transitory: instead, hope should only be placed in God. "Trust hym he is moste trewe" and "is above fortunes fall" (James, 89-90). The weight of his family's history, the circumstances of his father's death, and his own failure to satisfy the expectations placed on him by others may have made Northumberland a melancholic in adverse times. It remains to be resolved why, having been brought up at court, he never established a relationship of trust with Henry VIII. Here it may be suggested that, as a young man, he strove too hard to recapture the authority which had been his father's but which the elder Tudor had determined to keep for himself. Recourse to violence destroyed the possibility of trust. Northumberland's response was to eschew royal office except for the ceremonial which he was required to dignify as a noble: in this there is a clear parallel with the duke of Buckingham, another senior noble who found no role in the inner circle of government.

Before 1502 Northumberland married Katherine, daughter of Sir Robert Spencer of Spencercombe in Devon. She survived her husband, dying in 1542. They had three sons: Henry Percy, sixth earl of Northumberland (c.1502-1537), Sir Thomas, executed 1537, and Sir Ingelram of Ingram (d. 1538); and two daughters, Margaret (d. c.1540), who married Henry, Baron Clifford, created earl of Cumberland in 1525, and Maud, who is alleged to have married William, first Baron Conyers (although she does not appear in the Conyers pedigrees).

RW Hoyle.


Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland had the following children:



Margaret PERCY ( -1540)

Second Generation

2. Margaret PERCY, daughter of Henry Algernon Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, married Henry de CLIFFORD in 1513. She died in 1540.


Henry de CLIFFORD, son of Henry, Lord Clifford (1454-1523) and Anne ST JOHN ( -1508), was born in 1493 in Skipton, Yorks. He had the title '11th Lord Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland'. He died on 22 April 1542 in Skipton. He and Margaret PERCY had the following children:



Henry CLIFFORD (1517-1570)

Third Generation

3. Henry CLIFFORD, son of Henry de CLIFFORD and Margaret PERCY, was born in 1517. He had the title '12th Lord Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland'. He married Eleanor BRANDON in June 1535. He married Anne DACRE in 1554. He died on 8 January 1570.


Henry Clifford, Second Earl of Cumberland, magnate, was the eldest of the six children of Henry Clifford, first Earl of Cumberland, and his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Henry Percy, fifth Earl of Northumberland. He was educated at home and then at court, where he spent much of his youth. He also attended the Duke of Richmond in the latter's household at Pontefract Castle, and was made knight of the Bath at Queen Anne's coronation in 1533. In June 1535 he married Henry VIII's niece Eleanor (1519-1547), daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Mary, daughter of Henry VII and widow of Louis XII of France. His father built for them the octagonal tower and long gallery extension at Skipton Castle. Clifford escorted Lady Mary Tudor at the funeral of Queen Jane at Windsor on 12 January 1537, and represented his father when Henry VIII met Anne of Cleves in January 1540. That year he served in the king's chamber, as a carver.

Clifford was prominent in the military crises of Henry VIII's later years. In 1536 he rallied the Carlisle townsmen to stand firm against the rebels. He played some part in the defence of the west march in 1541, and from September 1542 until 1544, following his father's death, he was continually employed mustering his Yorkshire tenants and leading them on the borders. He was proposed as warden-general for all the marches, but the king preferred a more experienced man, in John Dudley, Viscount Lisle. Instead, Clifford was appointed to the council of the borders, and was rewarded in 1544 by being added to the council in the north. He repeated this service during Elizabeth I's Scottish campaign of 1559-60. It was his military outlay, rather than court life, which forced him to sell lands during the 1540's. Even so, the rental from his estates at his death amounted to some ?000 per annum.

Clifford was tall, slender, and dark-haired, a learned man with a fine library whose interests were alchemy, astrology, and distilling. These he indulged after Countess Eleanor's death in 1547, a blow which so prostrated the earl that he was laid out for dead, according to family tradition recovering his strength by sucking milk from a woman's breasts; thereafter he retired to his northern castles, rarely visiting the court. He was instrumental with William Ermysted in founding Skipton grammar school. A testimony to his cultural concerns and pride in his royal marriage is the organ he presented to Carlisle Cathedral in 1542. The organ case, of Italian design, displays on its heraldic panels the coats and supporters of the Cliffords and Brandons. The oldest in England, it is now in St. Lawrence's, Appleby.

Clifford's absence from court exposed him to political intrigue. His parliamentary patronage in Westmorland and friends in the privy council enabled him to obstruct Thomas, Lord Wharton's bills in 1549 and 1558 to deprive him of his hereditary sheriffwick of Westmorland and punish his servants. He was potentially dangerously exposed in 1553 when his only child, Margaret, heiress to the great Clifford inheritance and with a claim to the throne, was drawn by John Dudley, now Duke of Northumberland, into his schemes to achieve his own dynastic ambitions and perpetuate the protestant regime. But Northumberland's proposal, that Margaret should marry his own son Lord Guildford Dudley, came to nothing, and on Mary Tudor's accession Clifford was swift to extricate himself by demonstrating his loyalty to her. His inheritance worries only ceased well after his second marriage in 1554 to Anne (c. 1538-1581), daughter of William, third Baron Dacre of Gilsland, with the birth in 1558 of George Clifford, future third Earl (his second son Francis (1559-1641) eventually became the fourth earl). This marriage also served to heal a long-running dispute between the Dacres and the Cliffords.

Clifford's initial support for Queen Mary was unequivocal. A traditionalist in matters of religion, he welcomed her restoration of Catholicism and used his electoral patronage in Westmorland to return members of like mind, but he became disenchanted with her later policies. Under Elizabeth he was accused of protecting popish priests in the north. However, the agreement he reached in 1565 for George's marriage with Margaret, daughter of Francis Russell, second Earl of Bedford, signalled his alignment with the strongly protestant group at court under Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. At the time of the 1569 uprising he was suspected of sympathy, at the very least, with the rebels, but again demonstrated his loyalty to the Tudor crown by holding Brougham Castle for the Queen. He died there on 8 January 1570 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Skipton.

Article by Richard T Spence.


Countess Eleanor BRANDON, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk (1484-1545) and Mary TUDOR (1496- ), was born in 1519. She died in 1547. She and Henry CLIFFORD had the following children:



Margaret CLIFFORD ( - )


Anne DACRE, daughter of Lord William DACRE 3rd Lord Dacre of Gillesland ( -1566) and Elizabeth UNK ( - ), was born in 1538. She died in 1581. She and Henry CLIFFORD had the following children:



George CLIFFORD (1558- ). George was born in 1558. He was a Sailor. He had the title '13th Lord Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland'. He married Margaret RUSSELL in 1577.


Francis CLIFFORD (1559-1641). Francis was born in 1559. He had the title '14th Lord Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland'. He died in 1641.