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Lady Anne Clifford’s lineage had a profound influence on her life course. She was the only child of Countess Margaret Russell and George Clifford. Anne’s father was the Earl of Cumberland; the Clifford properties were under his name, and he had the right to bequeath them to whomever he saw fit.
However, when making this decision, he had to follow an entail that kept the family property in the line of the oldest heir. In the year 1605, the Earl passed away and unjustly willed the family estate to his brother and nephew. It was this injustice that strengthened Lady Anne’s resolve to fight for her rights.
People with the greatest impact
Anne’s mother had the greatest influence on her life. Shortly after the Earl of Cumberland’s death in 1605, Margaret made claims on her daughter’s behalf for the family estate. This set the pace for what was to follow when Anne grew older. Although the court rejected those pleas in 1606, it soon upturned this decision in 1607 following Margaret’s work.
She looked up the archival records of the Clifford family and made the case for Anne’s right to inherit the property. Regardless of the judges’ decision, Lady Anne’s uncle was unrelenting in his claim over the estates; he refused to hand them over to Anne. It was Margaret’s strong resolve that set the pace for what her daughter would eventually take up during her entire life (Williamson 41).
Margaret stood by her daughter when all other parties opposed her. It was her mother who strengthened her resolve to fight the injustice that her father had accorded to her (Clifford 59). This parent emphasized the fact that her husband had broken the entail. She also spoke candidly to her daughter by telling her the realities of the situation, and her chances of success.
At the time, her father had willed the property to his brother and nephew if the earl’s brother died. Throughout her life, Lady Anne’s cousin was only a few younger than her.
Further, his father was alive at the time when the lady was contesting the will. It was highly unlikely that she would ever own the lands if she followed her father’s will. Lady Anne’s mother made these intricacies quite clear to her daughter and supported her throughout the battles.
When Lady Anne’s mother passed away, Anne was deeply devastated by the death. She felt that the only person who supported her life’s quest was gone. Additionally, she emphasized the great values that her mother had instilled in her.
In fact, Lady Anne asserted that her mother’s influence was of much greater importance to her than any nobility or lineage that other people desired. This explains why Anne went through great trouble to arrange for her mother’s burial.
Several entries in her diaries reveal the pride that she had in her lineage. She documented even the most trivial deeds demonstrated by her kinsmen. It was her mother who initially informed her about this history.
However, Anne did a lot of personal research regarding this issue, as well. Her mother ignited a passion for Westmorland during her early days. She was her educator and primary source of information regarding their family (Clifford 9). Even during the last portion of her journey, she was still able to instill a sense of pride in the land.
Generally, Lady Anne’s life was influenced by her parents. In legal terms, she descended from a line of wealthy Clifford’s, most of who controlled a series of castles in the kingdom. Her parents’ decision to marry each other set the stage for what her life would become in the future. Nonetheless, the Lord of Cumberland, Anne’s father, was an extravagant man whose voyages left his family in profound debt.
It appears that this senior Clifford made the decision to will his brother and nephew prior to his death because of these problems. He felt that his brother was wealthy enough to remove the Clifford properties from debt.
Alternatively, it could be his bias towards female heirs that caused him to overlook his daughter in the will. Whichever the reason, the Earl of Cumberland affected his child’s life course by making a life-altering decision during her childhood.
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Lady Anne’s husbands had less impact on her life than did her parents. This partly stems from the nature of the relationship she had with them as well as the fact that they were two in number. Her first husband, Lord Dorset, felt that his wife was a lovable woman, but she lost her sense of reason whenever she focused on the family property (Clifford 33). Dorset cared little for the rich history and heritage of Lady Clifford’s family.
He felt that it was troublesome to manage properties as tenants were stubborn and claimants to the properties were relentless. Instead, he felt that his wife ought to reach a compromise that would grant her vast sums of money in exchange for her birthright. It is for this reason that her husband became a negative force in her life.
The Court of Commons held that all the lands that belonged to Lady Anne’s father were to be given to her uncle and cousin. Her husband tried to persuade her to abide by these rulings. Unlike her mother, who supported her and urged her to fight for her birthright, her husband sided with her foes in this matter (Williamson 12).
He merely wanted a speedy conclusion to the dispute and possibly some monetary rewards. It was only through Lady Anne’s stubbornness that the Court failed to exert its decision upon her. She refused to sign the award and affirmed that the decision was not binding to her.
On the 1st of January 1616, Lady Anne met the Archbishop of Canterbury. He tried as much as possible to persuade her to agree to the court’s decision. However, the Lady was adamant with regard to the matter. The clergyman came with a series of Lords and noblemen to convince her to sign the award. After much convincing, Lady Anne decided that she would buy more time by seeking counsel from her mother.
She had to do this by the 22nd of March. At the time, Lord Dorset made it clear that she had to sign the award. He used all manner of tactics to get her to make this decision. For instance, on their way to her mother’s location, Westmoreland, her husband got into a bitter argument with her and even abandoned her in the midst of the journey.
During this same period of time, he instructed his servants to leave his wife alone unless she chose to go back to London (Williamson 78). It was only her mother’s support that got her through such difficult times. As a result, her first husband did little to impact her life positively. He was a force of regression in her attempt to reclaim her inheritance.
The threats of separation from her husband caused this noblewoman to think twice about her businesses as she wanted to preserve the marriage. Nonetheless, her commitment to the family fortune supplanted loyalty to an unsupportive husband.
Her second husband was just as toxic as the first. However, he had some legal use to her that her first husband did not. While Anne’s mother had a more personal impact on her daughter, her second husband provided a legal one. Society, at the time, placed disproportionate value on a man’s opinion. Consequently, even though Phillip Herbert, the Lord of Pembroke, subjected Anne to profound stress, his opinions protected her.
It was widely acknowledged that Herbert was deeply involved in politics. He believed in the strength of parliament over that of the crown. Conversely, Anne leaned more towards the crown than parliament. It is her husband’s inclinations that caused parliament to keep away from her inheritance. Therefore, her second husband’s impact on her life was more of a statement than a daily factor.
Almost all the family members in Anne’s background opposed her right to inherit the family estates. Her father bequeathed it to someone else; her two husbands encouraged her to give it up while her uncle and nephew fought hard to own it. It was her mother who was the only family member that supported her claims.
She initiated the battle in her early days and then nudged Anne on when all others opposed her. Therefore, it was her parent who had the greatest impact upon her.
Clifford, Anne. The diaries of Lady Anne Clifford. London: The History Press, 2003. Print.
Williamson, George. Lady Anne Clifford, her life, letters and work. 2010. Web.