Clifford family (bankers)

Not to be confused with the Clifford family of nobles.
Country Netherlands
United Kingdom
Founded 16th century
Founder John Clifford
Ethnicity Dutch, English

The Clifford family was a family of bankers, merchants and regenten of English descent who were active in Amsterdam during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. The family originated in northern England, although the surname originated in the village of Clifford, Herefordshire.[1] Northern England was the home of the noble Clifford family, since Roger Clifford was born in Cumberland and died in Brough Castle in Westmorland. There is no evidence that the Clifford banking family is descended from a nobleman named Clifford, who fought for William I of England.[2]


Richard and Henry Clifford

The church in Landbeach

The oldest known ancestor is John Clifford, who was a tenant in Aylsham. His son Richard Clifford was born in Aylsham. He studied at Corpus Christi, Cambridge, and in 1569 became rector of Landbeach, a village just north of Cambridge,[3] though he was also canon of Stow. His wife was Alice; her maiden name is unknown.

Henry Clifford (1576-1628) was born in Landbeach to Richard and Alice Clifford. He also studied at Corpus Christi.

George Clifford I

Henry's son, George Clifford, relocated to Amsterdam between 1634 and 1640. This George or Joris (1623-1680) married Abigail Bower in 1648 and spent the rest of his life on the Zeedijk. From 1654 he had an account with the Amsterdamsche Wisselbank. Six of his children were baptised in Amsterdam's Presbyterian Church, and two in the Oude Kerk. He also seems to have been active in Hull, where his brother-in-law lived, but also had a plantation in Barbados, which he is recorded as owning in 1664.[4]

George Clifford II

George Clifford II (1657-1727, son of Ceorge I) began his career on the Leliegracht Canal. From 1696 to 1700 he was director of the Sociëteit van Suriname. From 1701 George and his brother Isaäc (1665-1729) ran their father's business under the name 'George en Isaäc Clifford & Co.', though it is not clear which of them was more involved in the business. In 1709 George bought the estate of Hartekamp in Heemstede, buying it for 22, 000 guilders from Jacob J. Hinlopen, his neighbour on the Herengracht in the Gouden Bocht. The family business entered banking at the start of the 18th century and in 1713 the business arranged a loan to Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor and to Augustus III of Poland.

George Clifford III

The Hartekamp in Heemstede
Main article: George Clifford III

George Clifford II's only son was George Clifford (1685-1760), who is best known as patron of the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, whom he employed as 'hortulanus' to catalog the family's unique collection of plants, herbarium and library.[5] The result was Linnaeus' book Hortus Cliffortianus, whose publication costs were paid by George Clifford III. In 1739 George Clifford III made a sworn statement to Nicolaes Geelvinck, secretary of the stadhuis, that he was descended from Henry Clifford from Landbeach.

Later history

In the mid-18th century members of the family began to enter the city-government of Amsterdam. The business regularly lent money to banks in Saint Petersburg and Moscow the English and Danish governments, and owned plantations in Suriname, but it went bankrupt in 1772, bringing down a number of other bankers and their firms, such as Pels & Zonen. In the mid-19th century the Clifford family moved to The Hague. The family archive was lost in an incendiary raid on Dalfsen during World War II.[6]


  1. Family tree of the Clifford family
  2. Bouvy, A & Oetgens van Waveren Pancras Clifford (1991) De Nederlandse Leeuw, pp. 81-103.
  3. Landbeach: Tithe Barn
  4. Stadsarchief 5075, NA 2157, f. 157.
  5. Wie was George Clifford?


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