STAFFORD, Humphrey (c.1384-1419), of Grafton, Worcs.
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Family and Education
Rider of Feckenham forest, Worcs. 1 Feb. 1404-d.
Commr. to assess contributions to a tax, Worcs. Jan. 1412.
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick) 2 Nov. 1412-Mich. 1414
Some ten years before his father’s death Humphrey acquired considerable estates through marriage to Sir John Burdet’s only heir. These included Huncote in Leicestershire, Bourton on Dunsmore in Warwickshire, and Ditchampton in Wiltshire (which last had an estimated annual value of £20 in 1412).1
Stafford’s youthful years were full of violent incident. In January 1401 Thomas, earl of Warwick (as sheriff of Worcestershire) was ordered to arrest him, his servant, and two men from Bromsgrove and bring them before the King’s Council, no doubt to face indictment for the murder, with malice aforethought, of one Richard Merston. Stafford’s father had to enter into recognizances for 100 marks to keep the peace towards Ralph Merston*, the victim’s kinsman, but Humphrey himself apparently remained at large and unpunished. Indeed, before too long he entered the service of Henry of Monmouth, prince of Wales, and, since he was an esquire in his army in North Wales from 13 June to 18 July 1403, it is very likely that he fought under Henry’s banner in the battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July, in which his kinsman the earl of Stafford met his death. When, in the Hilary term of 1404, he did eventually appear in the King’s bench to answer for Merston’s murder, he produced a royal pardon dated 23 Jan. that year and sufficient securities for his future good behaviour, partly supplied by his father and his wealthy uncle, Sir Humphrey Stafford I* of Southwick, so as to be promptly released from custody. Moreover, it was only shortly afterwards that he was granted for life the royal office of rider of Feckenham forest. This appointment led to further local disputes, most notably with William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny, the new earl of Warwick’s uncle, who in 1405 complained that Humphrey and his father had broken into his property at Feckenham, hunted in his park, fished in his ponds, depastured his grass and assaulted his servants. At the same time Humphrey was required to find sureties that he would in no way harass John Brace* of Droitwich, one of Beauchamp’s retainers. It is an indication more of the wealth and prestige of his family than his own personal standing that Stafford’s mainpernors on this particular occasion included Sir Thomas Erpingham, the steward of the King’s household, his cousin, Sir Humphrey Stafford II*, and John Doreward* the former Speaker and member of the King’s Council.2
Early in 1410 Stafford attended the Worcestershire elections to Parliament, and when, in the following March, his father died, he inherited estates not only in that county but also in Staffordshire and Warwickshire. These included a moiety of the Hastang properties inherited by his mother, notably Grafton itself and Leamington Hastang in Warwickshire, although some of these (for instance land at Chebsey in Staffordshire) had come into his possession a few years earlier.3 Stafford’s activities were henceforth those to be expected of a landed gentleman; for example, in April he was associated with his cousin, the younger Sir Humphrey, as a co-feoffee of the estates in Warwickshire and Worcestershire inherited by William, son of Sir Thomas Butler* of Sudeley. His connexion with the prince of Wales continued, aided, no doubt, by his cousin’s position as one of the prince’s retainers: in November 1411 he took out royal letters of protection to join Monmouth’s retinue at Calais, but he probably did not depart until after January 1412, for in that month he was named on a commission at home. Stafford’s earlier differences with the Beauchamps were evidently now forgotten, for in November following Earl Richard of Warwick (from whom he held Grafton), appointed him deputy sheriff of Worcestershire, and when he was elected to Parliament for that county three years later it was in the company of his former adversary, John Brace. In the summer of 1417 he enlisted in Warwick’s retinue for the second royal expedition to France, and evidently while campaigning in Normandy he was knighted.4
Stafford died, probably overseas, on 20 Feb. 1419. The wardship of his estates during the minority of his son, John, was granted to a kinsman, Sir Richard Stafford†. In the following year Humphrey’s maternal aunt Joan, widow of (Sir) Rustin Villeneuve*, died leaving a daughter as her heir, and it was then that her Hastang manors of Upton Warren (Worcestershire) and Chebsey (Staffordshire) fell to the Staffords. When John died in 1422 the heir was his younger brother, Humphrey, who was to sit for Worcestershire in 1423 and 1426, for Staffordshire in 1427 and for Worcestershire again in 1447 and 1449. He became one of the wealthiest landowners of the region: in 1436 his estates in Worcestershire alone were estimated to be worth £266 a year, and by 1448-9 he was enjoying a clear annual income amounting to £420. Sir Humphrey was slain by the rebels at Sevenoaks in 1450.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. VCH Warws. vi. 40; W. Dugdale, Warws. 289; VCH Wilts. vi. 9; R.C. Hoare, Modern Wilts. (Branch and Dole), 153; J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 351; iv. 820; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 420; Feudal Aids, vi. 536.
- 2. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 417; 1401-5, p. 353; 1405-8, p. 64; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 41; E101/404/24, ff. 7d, 16; CCR, 1402-5, p. 529.
- 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 52; VCH Warws. vi. 151; CP, vi. 344; Peds. Plea Rolls, 361; VCH Worcs. iii. 125-6; C137/79/38; C219/10/5.
- 4. CCR, 1413-19, p. 431; C76/95 m. 3; E101/51/2.
- 5. C138/36/6, 18, 62/18; DKR, xli. 740; CFR, xiv. 305; xv. 11; E179/220/68; K.B. McFarlane, Nobility of Med. Eng. 58.