Civil servant, bishop of London; d. Aug. 20, 1421. No firm evidence survives concerning his parentage and education. He was not styled master before 1397 or regularly afterward, and this scholastic title may have been used in error or as a compliment. Most authorities assert Clifford's descent from the baronial house of Westmor-land; his father may have been the Lollard courtier Sir Lewis Clifford. As a retainer of the Black Prince and his wife, Lewis could have introduced his son to King Richard II. Richard Clifford was known as a "king's clerk" from 1380, when he received the first of numerous benefices. He was one of the royal chaplains arrested by the Lords Appellant in 1388 but was soon released. He was appointed keeper of the great wardrobe (1390) and keeper of the privy seal (1397), an office he retained even after Richard II's deposition.
In 1400 the new king, Henry IV, refused to allow Clifford's provision to the see of Bath and Wells but did assent to his transfer to that of worcester (1401) and to his translation to the see of London (1407). Clifford had resigned the privy seal soon after his consecration as bishop and thereafter took little part in secular government except for an embassy to Germany (1402). He was one of the episcopal assessors at Sir John Oldcastle's trial as a Lollard heretic (1413). He served in Henry V's embassy to the Council of constance and was its spokesperson, favoring the election of Pope martin v. The unsupported statement of Thomas walsingham in his Historia Anglicana (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 2:320) that Clifford himself was considered as a candidate for the papacy is hard to credit in view of his comparatively undistinguished career. He was buried in St. Paul's, London.
Bibliography: t. a. archer, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938) 4:525–526. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford 1957–59) 1:440–441.
[r. l. storey]