Hugh Charles Clifford (1866 - 1941)

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About Hugh Charles Clifford

Sir Hugh Charles Clifford, GCMG, GBE (5 March 1866 – 18 December 1941) was a British colonial administrator.

Early life

Clifford was born in Roehampton, London, the sixth of the eight children of Major-General Sir Henry Hugh Clifford and his wife Josephine Elizabeth, née Anstice; his grandfather was Hugh Clifford, 7th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh.


Clifford married Minna à Beckett, daughter of Gilbert Arthur à Beckett, on 15 April 1896, and they had one son and two daughters: Hugh Gilbert Francis Clifford, Mary Agnes Philippa and Monica Elizabeth Mary. Minna Clifford died on 14 January 1907.

On 24 September 1910 Hugh Clifford remarried, to Elizabeth Lydia Rosabelle Bonham, CBE, daughter of Edward Bonham of Bramling, Kent, a British consul. A Catholic, she was the widow of Henry Philip Duracel de la Pasture of Llandogo Priory, Monmouthshire. Clifford thus became stepfather to E. M. Delafield, author of the Provincial Lady series.


Hugh Clifford intended to follow his father, a distinguished colonial general, into the British Army, but later decided to join the civil service in the Straits Settlements, with the assistance of his relative Sir Frederick Weld, the then Governor of the Straits Settlements and also the British High Commissioner in Malaya. He was later transferred to the British Protectorate of the Federated Malay States. Clifford arrived in Malaya in 1883, aged 17.

He first became a cadet in the State of Perak. During his twenty years in Perak, Clifford socialised with the local Malays and studied their language and culture deeply. He served as British Resident at Pahang, 1896–1900 and 1901–1903, and Governor of North Borneo, 1900–1901.

In 1903, he left Malaya to take the post of Colonial Secretary of Trinidad. Later he was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast, 1912–1919, Nigeria, 1919–1925, and Ceylon, 1925–1927. He continued to write stories and novels about Malayan life. His last posting was as Governor of the Straits Settlements and British High Commissioner in Malaya from 1927 until 1930. He wrote Farther India, which chronicles European explorations and discoveries in Southeast Asia.


Clifford was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1909, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 1921 Birthday Honours, and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1925.

Clifford died peacefully on 18 December 1941 in his native Roehampton. His widow, Elizabeth, died on 30 October 1945.

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