Local Identities

William Robert Clifton

HOLDER OF ANCIENT KNIGHTHOOD Anyone seeing Mr. William Robert Clifton, of Buckby Road, Harvey, pottering around each day in his yard would never think that this same cheery old gentleman is the holder of one of the most ancient Knighthoods in England. Australian-born Sir Robert Symmons Clifton who was the 13th Baronet of his line, died last August. His title then passed on to his second cousin, who is our Mr. Clifton of Harvey. The late Sir Robert’s grandfather was once a Governor of Western Australia.

FAMILY GOES BACK OVER A THOUSAND YEARS The Clifton family claims descent from the warden of Nottingham Castle during William the Conqueror’s reign (1066). The baronetcy dates back from 1611 but the line of knighthoods began in 1281. Mr. Clifton has succeeded to the baronetcy but is waiting patiently for news from the College of Heralds in London as to whether the large estates in England are entailed and therefore go with the title. Born at Rosamel farm, five miles out of Australind, in 1872, William Clifton grew into a husky young lad. At the early age of five he learnt to ride a horse and now going on for 77 his only regret is that his place is not big enough to keep a horse or else he would be riding one now.

OLDEST LIVING CLIFTON IN W.A. Mr. Clifton — or should I say Sir William — is the oldest living Clifton in W.A. and there are over three hundred of them. Marshall Waller Clifton, the founder of Australind, was his great-grand-grandfather. When he was sixteen William Clifton went to work on his father’s cattle station fourteen miles out of Bridgetown, practically in the exact position where the Wilga Coalfield is today. [Requires further research – Ed.] At the turn of the century William decided to take up land. He travelled all over the South West looking for suitable property. The father of the present premier of W.A. (Mr. Ross McLarty) advised him either to go to Darkan or Harvey. William chose Harvey and he has never regretted doing so.

FIRST MAN TO INTRODUCE DAIRYING TO HARVEY William, who had immense interest in cattle, was the first man to introduce dairying to Harvey. He won numerous prizes for shorthorn cattle at the Royal Agricultural Show. When the late Sir John Forrest went on one of his memorable exploring trips Mr. Clifton’s father was selected to accompany Sir John as second-in-command.

Sir James Mitchell’s father used to export well-bred horses to India for service in the Indian Army. He used to buy on an average fifty each year from Mr. Clifton’s father and it was young William’s job to break in the wild horses that were selected. Then he and a party would take them all the way to Robb’s Jetty to be shipped away.

“W. A. and E. A.,” as William and his wife were commonly known, will celebrate their Ruby Wedding next August. They have nine children and eight grandchildren. If Mr. Clifton does succeed to the large estates referred to I’m sure he will be the same outstanding ambassador of goodwill.

From ‘Know Your Neighbour’ series in the Harvey Murray Times on 3 December 1948 by BJF.