Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Plassey, was born at Styche Hall in 1725. After a turbulent youth, he went to India as a clerk with the British East India Company in 1744, and quickly became involved in British military operations in the country. With no formal military training, he made his name displaying bravery and tactical genius in the Siege of Arcot (1751), the Battle of Calcutta (1757), and the Battle of Plassey (1757), all victories which won him quick promotion and great wealth. He returned to England in 1760 and stayed for five years, investing some of his new fortune in the rebuilding of Styche Hall between 1760 and 1764. In 1765 he returned to India, and had great bearing on the establishment of British political control, and did considerable work in reforming governmental administration in the colony.
Clive retired in 1767, and returned to England. In 1769, he acquired the house and gardens at Claremont, near Esher, Surrey, and commissioned Capability Brown to remodel the garden and rebuild the house. He eventually faced considerable criticism back at home over the extreme wealth he had acquired, and was questioned extensively by a suspcious parliament which accused him of profiteering. He was vindicated in these accusations, but nevertheless commiteed suicide on November 22, 1774, in his home at Berkeley Square in London, by stabbing himself with a pen-knife. His death has been correlated to his history of depression and opium addiction, but was probably also related to pain he had been suffering from an illness.