Clumber House, c. 1913.
Clumber House, c. 1913.

"It is a Reverend Thing to see an Ancient Castle, or Building not in decay ; or to see a faire Timber Tree, sound and perfect: How much more, to behold an Ancient Noble Family which hath stood against the waves and weathers of Time. For new Nobility is but the Act of Power ; but Ancient Nobility is the Act of Time."—Bacon's Essay.

THE Clinton family is of great antiquity, and its members have played an important part in English history, both as warriors and statesmen. Nearly eight hundred years ago Geoffrey de Clinton was Chamberlain and Treasurer to Henry the First, and the present head of the house of Newcastle is said to be the only duke, not of royal blood, whose ancestors were certainly ennobled by the Plantagenet kings, or were men of mark before the time of the Crusades. The first member of the family of whom Dugdale can find mention is believed to have been raised from obscurity by his royal master, who, as a reward for his services, bestowed upon him great grants of land in Warwickshire, the counties of Oxford, Nottingham, Buckingham, and other parts of England.

This Geoffrey de Clinton built the famous Castle of Kenilworth, in which tradition says "he much delighted, by reason of the spacious woods, and the large and pleasant lake lying in their midst." He also founded a priory, near at hand, that was afterwards changed into an abbey for black Canons, which was well endowed. His son and grandson, Geoffery and Henry de Clinton, with his daughter Leoscelina, were also benefactors to this monastery ; their gifts including the greater part of Leamington and the mill of Guy's Cliff. But this branch of the family terminated in the death of Geoffrey's great grandson.1

Osbert de Clinton, the brother of the founder, had four sons—Osbert, his successor, ancestor to the present Duke of Newcastle; Roger de Clinton, who died Bishop of Coventry in 1148 ; Hugh de Clinton; Maurice de Clinton.

Osbert, the eldest son, who was denominated of Coleshill, in the ninth year of the reign of King John obtained a charter for a weekly market to be held there. He married Margaret, daughter of William de Hatton (whose father was founder of the priory of Wroxhall), and by her had Osbert, his son and heir, who was also possessed of Amington, in the county of Warwick, the inheritance of his mother. Osbert, the lord of Coleshill, having joined the rebellious barons in the reign of King John, his lands were seized, but he obtained pardon and the restoration of his estate from Henry the Third. Osbert died in 1223, leaving Thomas, his son and heir, who resided at Amington, and was married to Mazera, daughter of James de Bisege, by whom he had five sons— 1. Thomas; 2. Sir John (whose male line expired in 1353); 3. Osbert, lord of the Manor of Austrey ; 4. William, rector of the church at Austrey; 5. James, who was seated at Badsley (the inheritance of his mother), which now retains the name of Badsley Clinton.

Thomas de Clinton, the eldest of five sons, married Maud, daughter of Sir Ralph Bracebridge, of Kinsbury, in Warwick­shire. His son John, who also resided at Amington, was called John de Clinton, Jun., his uncle, John de Clinton of Coleshill, being then living. John de Clinton, Jun., married Ida, the eldest of the four daughters and co-heirs of Sir William de Odyngselles, Lord of Maxtock Castle and other possessions in Warwickshire. After his marriage Clinton took up his abode at Maxtock. In the twenty-sixth year of the reign of the first Edward he served in the expedition then made into Scotland, and two years afterwards he was summoned to Parliament as Baron Clinton of Maxtock. In 1301 he, with other men of eminence, received orders to attend the King at Berwick-upon-Tweed on the feast day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, to march against the Scots. It was during this expedition, while the King was leading his army into the north, that he first bestowed upon Clinton the name of "my beloved esquire," as well as some valuable lands. Clinton, also, by special command attended Edward, Prince of Wales, into Ponthieu. In 1308 the castle and honour of Wallingford were also committed to his charge.

This John de Clinton at the time of his death left two sons, both minors—John, his heir, and William, whose eminent employments are evidence of his ability. Both these sons had the honour of knighthood bestowed upon them. William married Julian, daughter of Sir Thomas de Leybourne, a great Kentish heiress, and widow of Lord Hastings. This, as Sir William Dugdale observes, was a great step in his advancement, although he had distinguished himself before his marriage. Edward the Third in the first year of his reign declared that William de Clinton had performed valuable services to him and Queen Isabel, his mother, when beyond the seas, for which he had been promised lands to the. value of two hundred pounds per year, and, in fulfilment of this engagement, he granted to him the castle, manor, and hundred of Halerton, in Chester and Lancaster. In the same year he had the honour of the King's commands to conduct John, Earl of Heinault, with his men-at-arms, from Dover (where they had just landed) to aid the King in the Scottish wars. He was made Governor of Dover Castle, Warden of the Cinque Ports, and constituted Admiral of the Seas.

As Admiral Clinton he attended the King into Scotland, where he was present at the famous battle of Hallidown. By this action, he stood high in the estimation of His Majesty, who, in 1337, created him Earl of Huntingdon. After many other signal exploits he was in the engagement near Winchelsea when the Spaniards were defeated. He died in 1354, leaving no issue, and Sir John de Clinton, the son of his elder brother, was declared his heir.

Sir John, second Lord Clinton, elder brother of William, Earl of Huntingdon, in the reign of Edward II. was returned as one of the principal knights in the county of Warwick who bore arms inherited from their ancestors. During this reign he was summoned to Parliament among the barons of the realm. On his death he left by Margery, his wife, daughter of Sir William Corbet, of Chadsley Corbet in Worcestershire, a son, John, who was his heir, and a daughter, Mary, married to Baldwin de Montfort.

Sir John, the third Lord Clinton, was born in 1326; and serving from his youth in the wars, under his uncle the Earl of Huntingdon, had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him. In 1355 he attended the Prince of Wales into Gascoigny, and in the following year he was present at the battle of Poictiers, when the French king was taken prisoner and his army totally defeated.

In 1360-1 Clinton's warlike powers were again employed against the French, and the King's summons in that year, forbidding any one between the ages of twenty and sixty to absent himself, resulted in many thousands coming forward in answer to the proclamation more than were required.

A hundred thousand of the number were chosen; 1,123 vessels were provided for their embarkation at Sandwich, where King Edward caused it to be proclaimed among them that " it was his resolution on entering into this war, never to return again from France alive, until, he should end the controversy, and attain peace with honour," and that " if any among them were unwilling to go on those conditions, they had his free leave to depart." But every one replied—"They were resolved to live and die with the King."

The army embarked at Sandwich between "the dawning of the day and sunrise "and landed in the evening at Calais. The Prince of Wales and two other royal princes accompanied the King; the youngest, Thomas of Woodstock, being appointed regent of the kingdom, remained in England. In this expedition were most of the nobility of the land, including Lord Clinton. Ten years after this event the French King, having broken faith by taking Ponthieu from the English, Lord Clinton, in company with Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, again went over to the wars in France. King Edward having obtained from Parliament a large subsidy to enable him by force of arms to recover his right, he again, assumed the title of King of France. At this time many strong towns were taken from the enemy, and Lord Clinton gained great honour by his conduct and valour. In 1380, in company with Thomas of Woodstock, he again sailed for Calais, and proceeding through France into Brittany, they spread devastation on their march. The Lord Clinton rode with his banner displayed, and performed certain feats of arms at Nantes with Sir Galoys D'Aunoy.

In the sixth year of Richard II. he assisted at the taking of Gravelines, Bruges, Newport, and Dunkirk. Two years afterwards, by command of the King, he was at Newcastle-on-Tyne with his men, horses, and arms, agreeable to the terms of his service, prepared to make war against the Scots, who had that year taken Berwick-on-Tweed.

But on the English forces proceeding to besiege the town it was again surrendered. On the attainder and banishment of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the later years of the reign of Richard II., the Castle of Warwick, with all the manors and lands belonging thereto, were committed to his charge.

This third Lord Clinton married as his first wife Idonea, eldest daughter of Geoffry, Lord Saye (by Maud, his wife, daughter of Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick), and co-heir to her brother, William, Lord Saye, and cousin and heir of William de Saye, Baron of Sele. His eldest son and heir was Sir William de Clinton, his second Sir Thomas, and his youngest Edward. Owing to the failure of heirs male to William, Lord Saye, the brother of Idonea, she was at length the eldest co-heir of the noble family of Saye, which had produced several eminent men since the time of the Conquest.

Lord Clinton died September 8, 1399, during the session of Parliament which witnessed the dethronement of Richard II. and the raising of Bolingbroke to the crown. Sir Thomas, the second son of the third Lord Clinton, was seated at Amington, in Warwickshire. In 1386 he had the King's protection, as going in his service under the command of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, nominal King of Castile and Leon, into Spain. The Duke of Lancaster with the assent of Parliament took an army of twenty thousand men to assist the King of Portugal to repel the attack on Lisbon by the Spaniards. The army had various encounters, lost many men from sickness, and the Duke did not return to England until November, 1389. It is believed that this Sir Thomas Clinton died in the expedition.

Sir William Clinton, the eldest son of the third lord, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Deincourt, and Sir William dying in the lifetime of his father, left a son, also named William, who succeeded his grandfather, John, Lord Clinton.

William, the fourth Lord Clinton, in the first year of Henry the Fourth's reign, attended the King in the expedition made into Scotland, when a great part of Edinburgh was burnt and the castle besieged. But on the approach of winter Henry broke up the siege. Two years afterwards Clinton was in the wars in France, and in 1404-5 he was retained, along with John, Earl of Somerset, for the defence of the garrison at Calais. In the following year he did homage for the lands of William de Saye, as heir to him, by his grandmother Idonea; whereupon he bore the title of Lord Saye. He also attended Henry V. in the wars in France at the time when Harfleur was besieged and taken ; and the wonderful victory of Agincourt fell to the English arms on October 20, 1415. In 1418-19 Clinton embarked with the King at Portsmouth, and landing in Normandy was at the taking of the strong castle of Tonque, and at the siege of Caen, which was taken by assault. In Henry's last victorious visit to France Clinton was also in attendance. During the fifth year of the reign of Henry VI. he was again in the French wars, being then engaged by indenture to serve the King with twenty-five men-at-arms and seventy light archers ; and four years afterwards (in 1431-2) his engagement was to provide one knight, thirty-eight men-at-arms, and three hundred archers, the King himself being in person there.

He died July 30, 1432, leaving, by Anne, his wife, daughter of William, Lord Botreaux, and widow of Sir Fulk Fitzwaryn, John his son and heir.

1 Geoffrey de Clinton (son to the founder) had, by Agnes, daughter of Roger, Earl of Warwick, Henry, living in the fourteenth year of the reign of King John, who, by Amicia de Bidun, had Henry, who died without issue in the reign of Henry the Third, leaving three sisters, his co-heirs; viz., Amicabil, wife of Lucas de Colombers ; Isabel, of Ralph Fitzjohn, and Agnes, of Warine de Bragenham.—Collins' Peerage of England.