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Lady Anne Clifford
1590 - 1676

When George Clifford, third Earl of Cumberland, died in 1605, his only surviving child was his fifteen-year-old daughter Anne. By virtue of an ancient entail she was technically sole heiress to all the great Clifford estates, but by his will he disregarded the entail and left the property to his younger brother with reversion to that brother's son. His widow and daughter both resented this, and tried for years to find some legal argument
for asserting Lady Anne's right, but without success. Lady Cumberland had had the Westmorland property settled on her for life; it was there that she spent her years of widowhood, there that her daughter came to visit her, and there, eventually, she died, twice widowed and thereby Countess Dowager of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery.
On her mother's death, Lady Anne moved,into Brougham Castle and tried to administer Ihe estate from there, but her uncle and cousin claimed that the property had now reverted to the main estate at Skipton, and after much argument their claim was upheld and confirmed by King James, so that Lady Anne had to wait for upwards of another quarter of a century before she entered fully into her inheritance.

The Civil War was not yet over. King Charles had died publicly upon the scaffold, but there were bodies and individuals in Scotland who were ready to support - at a price - an invasion by his son, but it could not, at that time and in that way, have any likelihood of success. Lady Anne knew this, and, like the great landowner and shrewd businesswoman she was, she took her own way of seeing that her manpower and money were otherwise employed. By a great programme of building, restoration and administration she found and provided work for her tenants and labourers to do ,and successfully rebutted all suspicion of supplying men or money to the 'rebel' cause. She travelled all over the estate, riding on horseback or in a horse-litter over paths where her coach could not go; she knew her people and was known to them, bought her goods and provisions locally instead of sending away for them, and attended the services of the church under the various incumbents instead of keeping an individual private chaplain. Some time, naturally, she spent on the great estates in Craven, which had so lately come to her, but her heart was in the mountainous north, where her father had been born, her
mother had lived and she herself was eventually to die.

Her good works included the building and endowing of an almshouse - the still existing Hospital. of St Anne - the repair of castles and churches - the Book of Common Prayer had been officially banne~ by Government, but that prohibition meant no more to her than the entail had done to her father - and when in 1676 she was laid to rest in her vault in Appleby church, it was in full and undisputed possession of an inheritance which in her own view had,been lawfully hers for just over seventy years. Behind her tomb, a splendid array of carved and painted shields of arms illustrates the descent of the property from generation to generation, down to the marriages of her two daughters, Countesses in their turn, but the names and arms of her uncle and cousin do not appear in it.
Never in her life had she consented to admit their right, and at the end of it, in an inscription mainly bf her own drafting, she still resolutely proclaims herself her father's 'daughter and sole heire'.

Further reading: Martin Holmes, Poud Northern Lady. (London, 1975).