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Edward Stafford, the son of Henry Stafford, was born in 1478. In 1485 Henry VIII agreed that the Stafford family should have its title restored. Stafford now became the 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
Stafford now set about rebuilding his family's power in Wales and the West Country. Accused of treason, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was executed in 1521.
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Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Margaret was born on August 14, 1473 at Farleigh Castle, near Bath. Her father was George Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV. Her mother was Isabel Neville, eldest daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and heiress to one of the largest and richest landed estates in England. Margaret received an education worthy of her important status. In addition to reading and writing, she received instruction in playing musical instruments such as the virginals, she learned how to sew and how to manage a household.
As the king’s niece, she was considered a very eligible bride for some nobleman or possibly even a foreign prince. Her brother Edward was born in 1475 and her mother died about a year later. After this, her father began acting erratically, even going so far as to rebel against his own brother the king. The consequences of his behavior caused him to be attainted as a traitor and executed upon the orders of the king. Margaret and her brother were orphans with no means for making a living.
Both of them became wards of the crown and there is evidence King Edward granted funds for Margaret’s upkeep. After the unexpected death of King Edward and the usurpation of the throne by Richard III, the dynastic significance of Margaret and her brother increased due to Richard’s lack of an heir. King Richard found a way to minimize their importance in the succession by claiming because their father had been attainted for treason, they were unable to inherit the throne. This was a weak claim by the king as the attainder of Clarence never mentioned his heirs.
During the reign of King Richard, Margaret and her brother were living in the castle of Sheriff Hutton along with other important children of the realm. With the defeat of King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and the ascension of Henry Tudor to the throne, Margaret and Edward were put in the care of the new king’s mother Margaret Beaufort. During 1486, King Henry had ordered Margaret’s brother Edward confined to the Tower and took steps to take his estate, viewing him as a threat to his dynasty’s claim to the throne. In September of 1486, Margaret attended the christening of Henry VII’s eldest son Prince Arthur. She was also present at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth of York in November of 1487.
While we don’t know the exact date, there is strong evidence Margaret was married in late 1487 to Sir Richard Pole. Pole was a member of the landed gentry and a half-cousin of King Henry on his mother’s side of the family. Sir Richard owned two manors and had an income of £50 per annum. At the time of the marriage, Margaret was fourteen and Richard was twenty-eight. Despite the lack of prestige of the marriage and the age difference, the couple seems to have been happy and their time together allowed Margaret to enjoy a time of peace and prosperity.
Margaret lived at Bockmer in Medmenham and also in Stourton Castle in Staffordshire to remain close to her husband as he fulfilled his duties in Wales. Richard’s status and income would rise under King Henry VII. Margaret would give birth to five surviving children: Henry, the future Lord Montagu, Arthur, Ursula, Reginald and Geoffrey.
King Henry negotiated an important marriage agreement with Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1489. Their daughter Katherine was to marry Prince Arthur. Part of this agreement led King Henry to assure the Catholic Monarchs of the security of the throne of England for the Tudor dynasty with the regrettable executions of the pretender Perkin Warbeck and Margaret’s brother Edward in late 1499.
Beginning in 1501, Margaret was a member of Katherine of Aragon’s household and served her during her marriage to Prince Arthur. Once Arthur died, her service to Katherine ended but Margaret would become good friends with her and remained fiercely loyal to Katherine. In the fall of 1504, when Margaret was pregnant with her fifth child, her husband Richard died, leaving her a thirty-one year old widow with five children and a drastically reduced income. Margaret chose at this time to give her son Reginald to the church. King Henry paid for Reginald’s education and he went to Italy to study.
Margaret’s son Cardinal Reginald Pole
Margaret’s fortunes improved with the accession of Henry VIII to the throne in 1509. Margaret became a member of the Queen’s household when Henry married his brother’s widow, Margaret’s good friend Katherine of Aragon. Significantly, in 1512, King Henry restored to her the earldom of Salisbury. Margaret had to pay Henry five thousand marks for her restoration but these terms were very fair compared to what other nobles paid. This meant she was now in possession of all the lands her brother held at the time of his execution. Henry most likely did this as an unstated recognition of the injustice of her brother’s death. As Countess of Salisbury, Margaret and Anne Boleyn (as Marquess of Pembroke) were the only women in sixteenth-century England to hold a peerage title in her own right.
With this title and the lands she owned, Margaret was one of the wealthiest and most powerful and influential women in England. The Countess maintained four principal residences: Clavering in Essex, Bisham in Berkshire, Le Herber in London and her manor at Warblington in Hampshire. In 1516, Margaret was named a godmother to Henry and Katherine’s daughter the Princess Mary. In 1517, she was appointed governess to Mary, a very great honor and she took up the duties of the office no later than May of 1520.
Margaret left the position on July 24, 1521 but was reappointed in 1525 when she followed the princess to Ludlow. She would remain as governess until 1533. Margaret’s position at court was solid during this time. Margaret arranged good marriages for all her children while declining any offers of marriage for herself. Her eldest son Henry had a good reputation at court and was a great help to his mother as she consulted him and relied on his advice.
Remains of Margaret Pole’s home of Warblington (Image by junegloom07 on Wikimedia Commons)
The status of the Pole family unraveled slowly. Margaret’s son Arthur, who was a member of the King Henry VIII’s inner chamber, may have been expelled in a purge in 1519. However, he appears in the record as being part of the outer chamber as late as 1526 so he must have been to some extent restored to the king’s good graces. Arthur died in either 1527 or 1528, probably of the sweating sickness. Then in April of 1521, Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham was convicted of treason and executed the following month. The Duke was the father-in-law of Margaret’s daughter Ursula. Ursula and her husband were demoted in the peerage and received only a small portion of the Duke’s property.
Margaret made the ill-advised decision to defy King Henry VIII over some disputed properties. There were several manors that Margaret claimed were part to the Salisbury inheritance and King Henry argued they belonged to the duchy of Somerset. While neither Margaret nor the King were legally entitled to the properties, the clash over these properties caused Margaret to fall out of favor with the king.
Margaret was vocal and determined in her support of Queen Katherine and Princess Mary in the debate over the King’s effort to divorce the Queen to marry Anne Boleyn, thereby further damaging Margaret’s relations with the king. In 1533, Margaret refused to turn over Princess Mary’s plate and jewels to the king, creating more tension and alienation. She was dismissed as Mary’s governess in that same year and didn’t return to court until 1536. Soon after this, Margaret’s son Reginald wrote a letter to King Henry challenging Henry’s bid to become the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Margaret was compelled to send a letter to her son admonishing him for his stance.
In August 1538, Margaret’s son Geoffrey was arrested when it was discovered he had been in contact with his brother Reginald on the continent and had also engaged in treasonous talk against the king. The entire Pole family would come under suspicion. Interrogations followed. Geoffrey was found guilty of treason and unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide twice. He was eventually pardoned but seems to have suffered from mental illness until his death in 1558. Margaret’s eldest son Henry, Baron Montague was arrested and attainted. He would be executed on January 9, 1539.
Margaret herself was questioned by William Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Southampton and Thomas Goodrich, the Bishop of Ely. Margaret was firm and steadfast in her replies and was not intimidated by the men. The earl grudgingly had to admit how tough Margaret was and they found no evidence against her. Despite all the testimony garnered from the witnesses, Margaret was not implicated in any crime. The worst accusation which could be made against her was she didn’t allow her household and tenants to possess a copy of the Bible in English.
At first, Margaret was held under the supervision of Fitzwilliam in his home. In May of 1539 she was attainted by Parliament and in November she was transferred to the Tower of London. The charges were aiding and abetting her sons Henry and Reginald in committing diverse and sundry treasons. Thomas Cromwell introduced evidence against her. He presented a tunic allegedly found in her coffers which he stated symbolized Margaret’s son Reginald’s intention to marry the king’s daughter Mary and to restore papal authority in England. It is highly probable Cromwell fabricated the tunic.
Because Margaret owned numerous properties near the southern coast where an invasion was feared in 1539 by supporters of Reginald and because Margaret had poisoned her relationship with King Henry, she stood no chance of being pardoned. Even so, King Henry made sure Margaret was well taken care of while imprisoned, paying for clothing and food. She shared her cell in the Tower with her grandson Henry and the son of the Marquess of Exeter and was allowed to have a waiting woman with her.
In 1541, a rebellion broke out in the north of the kingdom. Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir John Wallop were found to be conspiring with Margaret’s son Reginald in this uprising. The strategy of the rebellion possibly included a plot by Reginald to rescue his mother from the Tower. Whether any of this was true or not, King Henry may have suspected Margaret of being involved with the rebels.
There is some evidence the government needed to clear the Tower of prisoners to accommodate locking up the numerous rebels from the uprising. Certainly the decision to execute Margaret was made hastily. On the morning of May 27, 1541, Margaret was told she was to be executed. She expressed great surprise as she did not know what crime she had committed and had not been told of her sentence.
Margaret immediately composed herself and was hurriedly taken to a small corner of the Tower confines. There was no scaffolding, only a small block and there were very few witnesses. Margaret courageously commended herself to God and asked all of those present to pray for the king, queen, Prince Edward and Princess Mary. The professional executioner had been sent north to deal with the rebels. Consequently, there was an inexperienced youth who was hired for the execution. After Margaret laid her head on the block, the youth butchered her head and shoulders before finishing the job.
The fall of the Pole family had been spectacular. Margaret was buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula within the Tower confines. Her son Henry had also been buried here. Margaret’s remains were discovered in the chapel in 1876 and upon examination, it was revealed she was of above average height.
All of the assets within the Earldom of Salisbury, which Margaret had meticulously garnered and developed, were forfeited to the Crown. However, when Mary Tudor became queen upon the death of her brother in 1553, Reginald Pole returned to England and became an advisor to the Queen. Mary would recognize the loyal support of the Pole family by treating Margaret’s relatives with kindness and restoring some of their property. Margaret was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 for laying down her life for the dignity of the Holy See and for the truth of the orthodox Faith.
Further reading: “Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership” by Hazel Pierce, “Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower” by Susan Higginbotham, entry on Margaret Pole in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by Hazel Pierce
Victims of Henry VIII: Edward Stafford
Edward Stafford was born on the 3rd of February 1478 to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine Woodville. Katherine was the sister of Elizabeth Woodville who was queen consort to King Edward IV (Grandfather to Henry VIII).
When Elizabeth Woodville married the King of England her kin were lucky enough to be given good marriages, titles and land. Her sister Katherine was no exception. At roughly seven years old, just before the coronation of her sister, Katherine was married to Henry Stafford – Stafford was merely 11 years old.
Italian Dominic Mancini wrote a report of what he witnessed in England after he left in 1483 and in this report he mentions that young Edward Stafford resented having to marry someone of such low birth – this was a common sentiment at the time at English court. Many resented the Woodville family and regarded them as upstarts.
Forty-four years after their marriage and five monarchs later, Edward Stafford found himself in a heap of trouble. As a descendant of Edward III, Stafford had what some believed to be a stronger claim to the throne since Tudor’s claim was through an illegitimate line. If something were to happen to the King and his daughter Mary, Stafford would be considered next in line to succeed to the throne of England.
After Henry VIII hears of Stafford’s claims that Stafford he orders an investigation. It is treason to speak of yet imagine the death of the King.
“On April 8, 1521, the duke was ordered to London from his castle at Thornbury. He set out for the court, seemingly unaware of any danger, and was greatly shocked when arrested along the way and taken to the Tower. At his trial, he was charged with ‘imagining and compassing the death of the king’, through seeking out prophecy from a monk named Nicholas Hopkins about the chances of the king having a male heir. Evidence was supposedly obtained from disgruntled former members of the duke’s household.
Buckingham denied all charges. But a jury of 17 peers found him guilty, led by the duke of Norfolk, who condemned him “while weeping.” – ExecutedToday.com
It was also documented in the Letters and Papers that Buckingham was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. The following statement was written by Gasparo Conarini, an Italian diplomat:
The Royal Courts have condemned the Duke of Buckingham to death. He will be definitively sentenced this morning (13 May) at Westminster, the final sentence having been passed ordering him for decapitation and he is gone back to the Tower to be executed according to the custom here, and they will do by him as was done by his father and grandfather. – Letters & Papers: ‘Venice: May 1521’
The Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in England, Lodovico Spinello describes the events on the day of Stafford’s execution:
This morning the late Duke of Buckingham was taken ‘in forza de’ brazi‘ from the Tower to the scaffold, at the usual place of execution, with a guard of 500 infantry. He addressed the populace in English. Then on his bended knees he recited the penitential psalms, and with the greatest composure calling the executioner, requested that he would dispatch him quickly, and forgave him after which he took off his gown, and having had his eyes blindfolded, he laid his neck on the block, and the executioner with a woodman’s axe (fn. 11) severed his head from his body with three strokes.
The corpse was immediately placed in a coffin and carried to the church of the Austin Friars, accompanied by six friars and all the infantry.
The death of the Duke has grieved the city universally. Many wept for him, as did one-third of the spectators, among whom was I. Our Italians had not the heart to see him die. And thus miserably, but with great courage, did he end his days on the 17th of May. – Letters & Papers: ‘Venice: May 1521’
As we’ve seen before with the execution of Edmund de la Pole, those with royal blood and viable claims to the crown of England were closely watched, especially when they spoke against the King. Unfortunately, while Stafford’s royal blood indeed gave him cause to believe he should be included in the line of succession it was for the King to decide, not Stafford.
Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
Character's backstory: The eldest son of Sir Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville. Through his father he was descended from Edward III's sons, John of Gaunt and Thomas of Woodstock, and his mother was a sister of Edward IV's queen consort, Elizabeth Woodville who afterwards married Henry VII's uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford. Therefore, the Duke was related to King Henry in more than a few ways. Edward's father was attainted and executed for rebelling against King Richard III on 2nd November 1483. However, the attainder was reversed on Henry VII's accession to the throne and Buckingham was placed under the wardship of Lady Margaret Beaufort (Henry VIII's grandmother).
[See: ANCESTORS of the King]
In 1495, Buckingham was made a Knight of the Garter and he was given many ceremonial roles at court. This continued after the accession of Henry VIII with Buckingham acting as Lord High Steward at the King's coronation in 1509 where he also carried the crown. He was made a member of the Privy Council in 1509 and also fought in the campaign against the French in 1513.
Through the marriages of his children, Buckingham had wide connections within the nobility making him a potentially powerful political force. This resulted in him becoming a leader for the disaffected nobles who were unhappy with the growing influence at court of low-born men, in particular Cardinal Wolsey.
Henry VIII was both jealous and suspicious of Buckingham due to his wealth, lands and royal blood. In 1521, Buckingham was arrested and tried for treason. He was accused of listening to prophecies of the King's death and his succession to the throne and for expressing an intention to kill the King. The Duke was tried before 17 peers although the charges were probably false and Henry had already decided on the outcome. Buckingham was executed at Tower Hill on 17th May 1521 and was posthumously attainted in July 1523.
Gentility: Duke, Nobility
Position: Lord High Steward, Lord High Constable, Knight of the Garter
Personality type: a leader of the disaffected nobles excluded from high office.
Signature look: An impressive figure, Stafford has the look of a fighter about him. Stern, dark eyes.
Annoying trait(s): Pride of his royal bloodlines. Resented Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to his detriment.
*There is no historical evidence that Buckingham's hands had to be held out or that he did not die with dignity as the series depicts.
. You few that loved me,
And dare be bold to weep for Buckingham,
His noble friends and fellows,
whom to leave
Is only bitter to him, only dying,
Go with me, like good angels, to my end
And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
And lift my soul to heaven.
Lead on, o' God's name.
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Father: Sir Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
Mother: Lady Katherine Woodville (sister of Queen consort to Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville)
Brother: Sir Henry Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire
Brother: Humphrey Stafford (died young)
Sister: Lady Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon (in the series Anna Buckingham is portrayed as his daughter who had a dalliance with Charles Brandon - in history it was Sir William Compton. She was also rumoured to be a mistress to King Henry.) see also : Mistresses of the King
Sister: Lady Elizabeth Stafford, Countess of Sussex
Lady Eleanor Percy, daughter of Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and Lady Maud Herbert.
Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (married the daughter of Lady Salisbury, Lady Ursula Pole had issue.)
Lady Elizabeth Stafford , Duchess of Norfolk (married Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, had issue including Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey)
Lady Catherine Stafford (married Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland, had issue.)
Lady Mary Stafford (married George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny, had issue.)
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (his son-in-law, whom he tries but fails to recruit into his conspiracy)
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (whom he resents for his ignoble birth)
Charles Brandon,1st Duke of Suffolk (for having an affair with his daughter - in the series not in reality )
King Henry VIII, who had him executed because of his claim to the throne
- <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/edwardstafford.htm">http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/edwardstafford.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Biography of Edward Stafford in the Luminarium enyclopedia">Biography of Edward Stafford in the Luminarium enyclopedia</a>
- <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/microsites/knightsofthegarter/MicroObject.asp?row=11&themeid=455&item=12">http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/microsites/knightsofthegarter/MicroObject.asp?row=11&themeid=455&item=12" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">The Garter of Edward Stafford</a> - Royal Collection
- <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.thepeerage.com/p10209.htm#i102088">http://www.thepeerage.com/p10209.htm#i102088" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Genealogy</a> - ThePeerage.com
- Weir, Alison. <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/034543708X/luminariumA">http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/034543708X/luminariumA" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Henry VIII: The King and His Court</a>. New York: Ballantine, 2001.
- Wilson, Derek. <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312286961/luminariumA">http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312286961/luminariumA" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition,</a> <a href _blank" rel="nofollow noreferrer noopener" href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312286961/luminariumA">http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312286961/luminariumA" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIII</a>. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.
- (after spilling rose water on Wolsey's shoes) "I apologize if I've done anything to offend. His Majesty."
- When he walks in on Charles Brandon and his daughter having an affair.
- When he practices how he will kill Henry VIII.
- When he plans to stab Henry VIII and ends up failing and getting executed.
- Being the first major character to be executed.
Thornbury Castle was built in 1511 by Edward Stafford, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
Henry VIII later stayed in the castle with Anne Boleyn. The castle is now a hotel.
All that glitters is Meg's gold
This week Meg continues to staunchly plead her case for her annulment and her inheritance. She begs Henry and Catherine to help her seek the ruling from Rome, but they refuse. Instead, they side with Angus, who goes so far as to come to court to plead his own case. Catherine even suggests to him that he spread the rumor that Meg and Albany have a romance, so that the Pope will see Meg&aposs request for annulment as having a personal motive and throw it out.
It was indeed rumored that Albany and Meg had a romantic relationship, their political closeness aroused the suspicions of many. However, there’s really no evidence that ever occurred, and given Meg’s propensity for bad romantic decisions, it seems likely if it had happened, we𠆝 know about it. The rumor makes sense and as with many rumors, it’s unclear where it began — but it’s particularly delicious to imagine it coming from Catherine as a woman with a vested interest in upholding the sanctity of marriage. It’s also true that Angus fled to the English court for a time, seeking Henry’s support and protection. He would spend the rest of his life trying to forward English interests in Scotland to maintain Henry’s help.
Meg also returns to England, alongside Hal Stuart. When Henry and Catherine basically tell her to get lost, she storms into a treasury room and just steals the gold she is owed. But not before Hal Stuart tries to lay some moves on her, and she feebly rejects him, having already picked one s--ty husband.
In actuality, Meg fought with Henry over her inheritance her entire adult life. When their father died, Henry conveniently claimed the will was “lost,” putting Meg’s claims off by saying she wasn’t owed anything. This moment of her stealing some English gold is imagined, but Meg did have a perceived obsession with gold and part of why she was a volatile figure in Scotland was she was seen as greedy in her siding with whoever would give her gold (in actuality, it seemed to align more closely with those who would respect her position and power — but classic 16th-century men: "This woman wants power! She must be a greedy she-devil."). So, it’s certainly easy to suppose it could have happened. Oh, and Hal Stuart, yeah, he really was Meg’s bad choice number three. But I suspect we&aposll get more on that next week.
STAFFORD, Edward I (1536-1603), of Stafford Castle.
b. 17 Jan. 1536, 4th s. of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (d.1563), by Ursula, da. of Sir Richard Pole, KG, of Ellesborough, Bucks. bro. of Sir Henry † and Walter. m. c.1566, Mary (d.1609), da. of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. as 3rd Baron Stafford 1566 suc. mother to castle and manor of Stafford 1570.2
J.p. Salop from c.1582, q. by 1591, Staffs. by 1583, q. by 1591, Glos., Mont. by 1591 v.-adm. Glos. 1587 member, council in marches of Wales 1601.3
The first known reference to Stafford in official sources is a council order of May 1557, presumably connected with the arrest of his elder brother Thomas, executed that month, ordering him to ‘repair home to his father, and to continue there until he should receive further order’: there is no evidence that any action was taken against him. He may have been the ‘Mr. Stafford’ who served at Dunbar in August 1560, and was still receiving a pension, in January 1562, for work in Scotland.4
He was a ‘known wasteful man’ who squandered his fortune and by 1601 his lands in Staffordshire were reduced to the ‘rotten castle of Stafford’. While he had estates he treated his tenants despicably. Those at Caws complained of wrongful imprisonment and of their landlord’s contempt for the sheriff’s authority. The Privy Council supported them, writing to Stafford that they ‘much disliked’ his disorderly dealings, warning him that they wished to ‘hear no more of it, as he will upon his peril answer to the contrary’. One of his devices was to claim that free or copyhold tenants were villeins or ‘bondsmen’, and in 1586 the Council ordered him not to molest Richard Cole, mayor of Bristol, and his relative Thomas Cole, on this pretext. Private cases brought against him alleged violent treatment, eviction and wrongful imprisonment, and refusal to pay debts: the parson of Church Eaton, Staffordshire, stated that he was afraid of violence resulting from his dispute with Lord Stafford about the title to a parsonage. One Ralph Higgons, who apparently could not substantiate his statement, claimed that Stafford had uttered irreverent and treasonable words against the Queen and her parents. His tongue made him many enemies. He wrote to Richard Bagot, who claimed relationship with the Staffords by marriage, and whom he suspected of supporting Higgons against him: ‘Surely I will not exchange my name of Stafford for the name of "A bag of oats", for that is your name’. He knew of no ancestor of his who had married a Bagot, unless ‘peradventure she married her servant’. ‘Your neigh-hour’, he ended his letter, ‘I must be’.5
When in 1580 his name was put forward for membership of the council in the marches of Wales, he was blackballed by Sir Henry Sidney. When he tried again in 1600 it was obvious that the other members did not want him: Henry Townshend warned the government that, if admitted, Stafford would attend continually to draw the diet and allowances for himself and his servants, and so encumber the council’s work. However, he secured admission in the following year, immediately asking for a ‘convenient chamber’ in the council house, near to the dining room. Townshend and John Croke III demurred, pointing out that as it was vacation time there was no need for his attendance, and that they had no suitable room available.6
Despite the bad example he set to other officials, Stafford was expected to carry out the duties suitable to his position. The story that he was removed from the Staffordshire commission of the peace for harbouring a murderer is apocryphal. He was one of the peers who tried Mary Stuart and the Earl of Essex, and at one time he was joined with Edward, 4th Lord Dudley in putting down riots in Staffordshire.
Stafford was a Catholic sympathizer. His name was on a list drawn up in the interest of Mary Stuart in 1574 on another five years later ‘specially recorded in the agreement given to the Pope and sent to the King of Spain’ and, in October 1592 he was included among the ‘relievers and followers of Jesuits and seminary priests’. No action was taken against him. He died intestate 18 Oct. 1603. Letters of administration were granted to his surviving son and heir, Edward.7
Four hundred years ago this month, in an unprecedented move forced on it by circumstances, Parliament adjourned for more than five months. As Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains, this seemingly innocuous procedural move had unfortunate and unintended consequences…
The 1621 Parliament is now chiefly remembered for its sustained attacks on corruption in high places. The lord chancellor, Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban was disgraced for accepting bribes, while assorted monopolists, such as Sir Giles Mompesson, who had enriched themselves by abusing powers granted to them by the Crown, were also severely punished. However, alongside this impressive narrative is another, much less well-known one, in which members of both the Commons and the Lords exploited parliamentary privilege for personal gain, thereby causing a public outcry and undermining Parliament’s moral authority.
When we talk about parliamentary privilege today, the key issue is the right of MPs and peers to discuss controversial business in their respective chambers without fear of legal repercussions. In the early seventeenth century, there were several other important strands to privilege, including protection from prosecution in civil lawsuits while Parliament was in session. By 1621 claims of privilege were routinely approved not just for MPs and peers themselves, but also for their servants, the latter term being interpreted loosely enough to encompass even tenants and some business associates. Moreover, it had become common practice for letters of protection to be issued by MPs and peers to those dependants whom they wished to enjoy the benefits of parliamentary privilege.
Since this use of privilege effectively suspended the normal operation of the law, there were strict time limits imposed to ensure that the system was not abused. Privilege applied only while Parliament was actually in session, with a few days either side also allowed, so that Members were protected while travelling to and from Westminster. But in 1621 that all changed.
The normal pattern of parliamentary business in the early Stuart period centred on a basic political transaction. Almost invariably the monarch requested a grant of taxation, but in return he was expected to approve legislation which addressed perceived grievances, so that Members could demonstrate to their constituents that they were receiving some benefits in return for their money. However, in 1621, in the face of a military emergency on the Continent, Parliament agreed a tax grant early in the session, without first securing any concessions from James I. The Commons then got completely side-tracked by its anti-corruption drive, leaving its legislative agenda in tatters. By June, Parliament had been sitting for four-and-a-half months, and the king was agitating to wrap up the session, but no bills had yet completed their passage through both Houses. James was willing to offer a further session, creating extra time for this legislation, but if Parliament was prorogued at this juncture all those unfinished bills would be lost. Members would be sent home more or less empty-handed, and would have to start all over again in the next session.
To avoid this scenario, a compromise was eventually agreed. Instead of the session being formally ended by prorogation, Parliament was merely adjourned for five months, leaving existing business in limbo until November. Such a long adjournment was unprecedented, and while it got around the immediate political impasse, it raised another awkward question. It was accepted that when Parliament was prorogued, Members’ privilege expired a few days after the end of the session. But during adjournments, privilege remained in force. What then should happen in an adjournment that suspended Parliament for as long as a typical prorogation? After further debate, it was decided that privilege would continue to apply for the next five months.
The consequences of this novel move were entirely predictable. As early as March there had been complaints in the Commons of parliamentary privilege being claimed by people who were not properly entitled to its protection, in order to avoid arrest or prosecution. The lower House even agreed a resolution against letters of protection being issued by MPs, all to no avail. Once the long summer recess got underway, a complete free-for-all developed, and when Parliament reassembled in November, it had a full-blown scandal on its hands. As the newsletter-writer John Chamberlain recorded: ‘protections … were grown to great excesse, so that marchants, tradesmen, and … debtors walked securely under sombodies name during the Parlement, which was generally misliked, and thought a grosse error that they who take upon them to set all straight shold geve way to such an abuse’ [Letters of John Chamberlain ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 409].
This was not simply a case of protections being handed out to friends and relatives. Money was also changing hands. According to Chamberlain, Edward Stafford, 4th Lord Stafford sold more than 300 letters of protection, for around five shillings each (roughly five days’ wages for a skilled artisan). This behaviour seems to have generated little surprise in the Lords. Stafford was notoriously impoverished, and had reportedly even sold the leadwork off the roof of his main home, Stafford Castle, in order to pay his debts. Unabashed at these allegations, Stafford went on the attack, claiming that ‘divers lewd persons’ had issued protection letters in his name, but without his knowledge [Journal of the House of Lords, iii. 170]. Since at least two of the alleged culprits subsequently confessed to fraud, Stafford himself was cleared. However, the evidence suggests that the baron was well aware of what was happening, and was certainly to some extent abusing the system.
A handful of the fraudsters were sentenced to a spell in the pillory, after which the Lords called a halt to its inquiry. Similarly, the Commons condemned this ‘abuse of priviledge, which had raysed an universall complaynt in the city and country’ [Commons Debates 1621 ed. W. Notestein, F.H. Relf and H. Simpson, iv. 420], but then settled merely for a tightening of the rules, to prevent a repeat of this episode. No one disputed the basic facts, but no MP or peer was actually held to account. Some small-scale abuse of protection letters emerged during the 1624 Parliament, but the issue did not again get so out of hand. Probably Members had learnt to exercise greater caution – but the perfect storm of 1621 also depended heavily on that five-month adjournment, which was not repeated either, substantially reducing the temptation. Henceforth, abuses of parliamentary privilege would take other forms.
Paul M. Hunneyball, ‘The Development of Parliamentary Privilege, 1604-29’, Parliamentary History, xxxiv. pt. 1, pp. 111-128
Robert Zaller, The Parliament of 1621 (1971)
Biographies of Viscount St Alban and the 4th Lord Stafford appear in our new volumes on The House of Lords 1604-29 ed. Andrew Thrush (2021).
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stafford, Edward (1552?-1605)
STAFFORD, Sir EDWARD (1552?–1605), diplomatist, born about 1552, was the eldest son of Sir William Stafford of Grafton and Chebsey, Staffordshire, by his second wife, Dorothy (1532–1604), daughter of Henry Stafford, first baron Stafford [q. v.] William Stafford (1554–1612) [q. v.] was his brother, and Thomas Stafford (1533?–1557) [q. v.] was his maternal uncle. The Staffords of Grafton were a branch of the same family as the dukes of Buckingham and barons Stafford (see pedigree in ‘Visitations of Staffordshire,’ Harl. MSS. 6128 ff. 89–91, and 1415 f. 109). Sir Edward's mother, who died on 22 Sept. 1604, and was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster, was a friend and mistress of the robes to Queen Elizabeth, and it was probably through her influence that Stafford secured employment from the queen. In May 1578 he is said to have been sent to Catherine de' Medici to protest against Anjou's intention of accepting the sovereignty of the Netherlands ( Froude , xi. 107). In the following year he was selected to carry on the negotiations for a marriage between Elizabeth and Anjou. In August he was at Boulogne, bringing letters from the duke to Elizabeth, and in December 1579, January 1579–80, June, July, and November 1580 he paid successive visits to France in the same connection (Cal. Hatfield MSS. vol. ii. passim Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1558–1580, Nos. 789, 791, 808, 809 Hume , Courtships of Elizabeth, pp. 214, 222–3, 230, 264). On 1 Nov. 1581, on his arrival in London, Anjou was lodged in Stafford's house.
Stafford's conduct of these negotiations must have given Elizabeth complete satisfaction for in October 1583 he was appointed resident ambassador in France and knighted ( Metcalfe , p. 135) his chaplain was Richard Hakluyt [q. v.] He remained at this post seven years his correspondence (now at the Record Office, at Hatfield, and among the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum) is a chief source of the diplomatic history of the period, and has been extensively used by Motley and others. Many of his letters are printed in extenso in Murdin's ‘Burghley Papers,’ in ‘Miscellaneous State Papers’ (1778, i. 196–215, and 251–97), and others have been calendared among the Hatfield MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.) Stafford showed his independence and protestantism by refusing to have his house in Paris draped during the feast of Corpus Christi, 1584. In February 1587–8 he had a remarkable secret interview with Henry III, in which that monarch sought Elizabeth's mediation with the Huguenots ( Baird , The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre, ii. 16). He was in great danger on the ‘day of barricades’ (12 May 1588), but when Guise offered him a guard, he replied with spirit that he represented the majesty of England, and would accept no other protection, and Guise gave secret orders that he should not be molested (ib. Thuanus , Historia, x. 264–6 Motley , United Netherlands, ii. 431–2). When he received news of the defeat of the armada, Stafford wrote a pamphlet, of which he printed four hundred copies at a cost of five crowns, to counteract the effect of the news of Spanish success which the Spanish ambassador in France had circulated. In October 1589 he appears to have visited England, and returned to Dieppe with money and munitions for Henry of Navarre. He was in constant attendance on Henry during the war, was present in September 1590 when Alexander Farnese captured Lagny and relieved Paris, and again was with Henry in the trenches before Paris a month later. At the end of that year Stafford returned to England, and in the following July was succeeded as ambassador by Sir Henry Unton [q. v.], and given 500l. as a reward by the queen.
Stafford had apparently been promised the secretaryship of state, and during the next few years there were frequent rumours of his appointment to that post and to the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster ( Chamberlain , Letters, pp. 52, 94, 112, 139). But he had to content himself with the remembrancership of first-fruits (Nov. 1591) and a post in the pipe office. He was created M.A. at Oxford 27 Sept. 1592, was made bencher of Gray's Inn in the same year, and elected M.P. for Winchester in March 1592–3. He sat on a commission for the relief of maimed soldiers and mariners in that session, and was re-elected to parliament for Stafford in 1597–8 and 1601, and for Queenborough in 1604. James I granted him 60l. a year in exchequer lands instead of the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster, which had been promised by Elizabeth. He died on 5 Feb. 1604–5, and was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster ( Winwood , Memorials, ii. 49 Mackenzie Walcott , St. Margaret's, Westminster, pp. 27, 32).
Stafford married, first, Robserta, daughter of one Chapman, by whom he had a son William, who was admitted a member of Gray's Inn on 1 May 1592, and two daughters. By his second wife, Dowglas (sic), daughter of William, first baron Howard of Effingham [q. v.], Stafford appears to have had two sons who probably died young. He has been frequently confused in the calendars of state papers and elsewhere with Edward, baron Stafford [see under Stafford, Henry , first Baron Stafford ], and with other members of the Stafford family named Edward, some of whom were also knights (see pedigree in Harl. MS. 6128, ff. 89–91), and Motley makes him die in 1590.
[Harl. MSS. 6128 and 1415 Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Venetian Ser. Cal. Hatfield MSS. Rymer's Fœdera Egerton MS. 2074, f. 12 Off. Ret. Members of Parl. Acts of Privy Council, x. 385, xiv. 256, 262, 285 Hamilton Papers, ii. 655, 674 Chamberlain's Letters and Leycester Corresp. (Camd. Soc.) Corresp. of Sir Henry Unton (Roxburghe Club) Teulet's Papiers d'État (Bannatyne Club), ii. 654 Birch's Mem. vol. ii. Collins's Sydney Papers Spedding's Bacon, i. 268 Wright's Elizabeth, vol. ii. Strype's Works Foster's Gray's Inn Reg. and Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714 Simms's Bibl. Staffordiensis.]
Little Bits of History
1521: Edward Stafford, 3 rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed. Edward was born in 1478 into a family with aristocratic ties and was the nephew of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. As the eldest son of the second duke, he stood to gain the title. His father participated in a rebellion against King Richard III and was charged with treason. The second duke was beheaded without trial on November 2, 1483. At that point, all the family’s honors were forfeit. Edward remained hidden during the rebellion and possibly for the rest of Richard’s reign. When King Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, Edward was returned to his aristocratic holdings. He was able to attend Henry’s coronation as a Duke. The seven year old was given to Margaret Beaufort, the King’s mother, to raise.
Edward was educated and trained in various royal households and became a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1495. At the age of 19, he was a captain in the forces sent out to maintain order in Cornwall after a rebellion started there. He was known as a fancy dresser at court and at Prince Arthur’s wedding, is said to have worn an outfit costing £1500. He was also the chief challenger at the tournament the following day. Edward was part of the coronation ceremony for King Henry VIII and was part of his Privy Council. Edward received permission from his friend/king to rebuild the family manor house in the style of a massive crenellated castle. Edward served his King in both military and home endeavors.
Edward was one of just a few peers with substantial Plantagenet blood and had ties to much of the upper aristocracy. Because of these ties, Henry began to have his doubts and in 1520 the King ordered Edward to be investigated for possible treasonous actions. The King personally interviewed witnesses to gather information for a trial. The Duke was summoned to the court in April 1521 whereupon he was arrested and placed in the Tower. He was tried in front of a panel of 17 peers and was accused of listening to prophecies of the King’s death and intending to kill the King. Sir Thomas More complained that evidence supplied by servants were hearsay. This made no difference at the trial and Edward was found guilty.
He was executed on Tower Hill on this day. He was 43 years old. An Act of Parliament on July 31, 1523 stripped him of all his titles and family holdings as well as blocked the inheritance of any titles and holdings. John Guy, present day historian, concluded this was one of the rare executions of aristocrats in which the person was “almost certainly guilty”. Edward had four legitimate children. His son became 1 st Baron Stafford and all three of his daughters married into aristocratic families, one marrying a duke, one an earl, and the last a baron. This three illegitimate children didn’t fare quite as well although Edward did manage to have his other daughter marry the half-brother of an earl.
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. – William Blake
It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it. – Nicole Richie
Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. – Arthur Miller
It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. – Confucius
Appreciation: Cmdr. Edward Peary Stafford, USN (Ret.): 1918-2013
The author of the classic book, The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise, “embarked on his final voyage,” his wife wrote the U.S. Naval Institute recently, on Sept. 24 at his home in Melbourne, Florida. He was 95.
Ed Stafford wrote for Naval History and the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, as well as regular contributions for National Geographic. He is best known, however, for naval books, including Subchaser, Little Ship, Big War: The Saga of DE-343, and The Far and the Deep. Ed wrote not only with flair, but authority, too.
In World War II, he commanded a subchaser in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas before he was executive officer of a destroyer escort in the Pacific. After the war, Ed graduated from Dartmouth College and was commissioned a lieutenant commander in December 1946. After serving as executive officer in a destroyer, he was ordered to flight training and assigned to hurricane-tracking with a patrol squadron.
What most people don’t know about Ed is that he was “a successful contestant,” as he once characterized it, on the TV quiz show “The $64,000 Question” in 1957. Even with all the success he’d enjoyed in the Navy and on the literary front, Edward Peary Stafford, the grandson of Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary, pursued a lifetime passion: preserving the honor of his family.
From the time then-Commander Peary claimed to “discover” the North Pole in 1909, “every few years,” Stafford wrote in the December 1971 Proceedings, “someone has come forth in public print to doubt or deny that he did so.” His article was a rebuttal to a piece that appeared in the June 1970 issue titled “Peary and the North Pole: The Lingering Doubt,” written by astronomer Dennis Rawlins. His major criticism was that no proof appeared to exist that would substantiate Peary’s claim.
On the heels of an official report issued by the National Geographic Society in 1989, providing “photogrammetric” analysis of images taken of the Peary expedition (and thus proof of the claim), the Naval Institute revisited the dispute with “All Angles: Peary and the North Pole,” a panel discussion that highlighted its April 1991 Annual Meeting. Nearly 20 years after Ed’s rebuttal appeared, the most vocal panelist that day was one Dennis Rawlins.
The debate often grew heated, with all apparent living members of the Peary/Stafford families on hand, and it reconvened after the allotted time in a Naval Academy classroom. The families put an offer on the table. Rawlins or anyone in the room would get a check for $35,000 on the spot if conclusive evidence could disprove Peary’s claim. No money ever changed hands.