Lady Anne Clifford in the South
Fourteen members of Asby WI, together with seven guests from Appleby textiles and Asby history groups, met in Asby village hall to hear Christine Raafat give her talk entitled ‘Lady Anne Clifford in the South’. Mrs Raafat explained that most of us living locally knew a good deal about Lady Anne’s achievements in this area, but very little about her life in the south of England.
The speaker had a difficult and complicated story to tell about a fun-loving teenager who enjoyed creating masques, who became a determined woman who was often very lonely – particularly at Knole in Kent, had two less than successful marriages and had to move away to Wilton, Dorset, when her first husband died aged 34 after15 years of marriage, lost two sons shortly after their births, had three miscarriages – some of whom were known to have been boys, and had just two daughters (Margaret and Isabella) both of whom survived.
During all this time she was clinging to the Clifford family motto – ‘Retain your loyalty; Preserve your rights’ – as she struggled for 38 years to retain the right to her estate here in the north. Her father died in 1605 leaving the estate in a will to his brother which broke the Clifford entail specifying right of succession. Lady Anne finally inherited her estate in 1643 when her cousin Henry Clifford died without an heir. This, after years of negotiations during which her husband supported her cousin’s right until later, when Lady Anne’s mother died, he changed his mind as it then became clear that he would now benefit. Even the king and queen tried to get her to relinquish her claim, but she stood firm during all that time.
Annie Johnson thanked the speaker for a most informative talk.and subsequently served refreshments with Carol Smith. Raffle winners were Christine Forrester, Valerie Cooper and Annie Johnson. The competition for a cushion was won by Dorothy Hayton, Anne Hulse second.