This article explores the relation between the eighteenth-century novelist John Cleland and the Delaval family, occupants of Seaton Delaval Hall in north-east England. Cleland remains one of the most elusive literary figures in the eighteenth century, with paradoxically less being known about his life after he acquired fame (and notoriety) than before. Previous scholarship has surmised that his later years were spent in an embittered isolation from the world. Drawing on nine letters contained in the Delaval papers in Northumberland Archives, and also on financial accounts relating to John Hussey Delaval, we demonstrate the close link between Cleland and three different members of the Delaval family. This association provided a significant source of support for Cleland over the final four decades of his life, and the family emerge in our account as the only figures who could plausibly be described as his patrons. We also point to ways in which the Delaval letters shed light on Cleland’s journalistic career and on the nature of literary patronage in general during the later eighteenth century.