Thomas Clifford 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh

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Clifford, Thomas Clifford, 1st Baron (1630–73). Clifford was a Devon gentleman of modest means determined to make a mark after the Restoration. Elected in 1660 for the local borough of Totnes, he spoke frequently and in December 1660 was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber. At that stage he belonged to Lord Arlington's group. Bitterly opposed to the Dutch, he urged the second war in 1664 and volunteered for several naval actions. In 1666 he became comptroller of the household, held the post of treasurer 1668–72, and 1672–3 was lord high treasurer with a peerage. But as a member of the inner cabinet or cabal, his judgement seems less good than his spirit. He advocated and signed the secret treaty of Dover with Louis XIV, which involved Charles II in great embarrassment; suggested the stop on the Exchequer, a short-term expedient of doubtful wisdom; and pushed hard for a third Dutch War. But when the Test Act, against which he argued, passed in 1673, he resigned all offices as an avowed catholic. He took his leave of John Evelyn, a close friend, with considerable solemnity, and a few weeks later was dead, it was rumoured by hanging himself.

J. A. Cannon

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