STAFFORD, Sir Humphrey II (c 1379-1442), of Hooke, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b.c.1379, s. and h. of Sir Humphrey Stafford I* by his 1st w. m. bef. Oct. 1397, Elizabeth (c.1380-1422), da. and coh. of Sir John Mautravers† of Hooke by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir William d’Aumarle† of Woodbury, Devon, 5s. (4 inc. Sir Richard† d.v.p.), 2da.1 Kntd. by Oct. 1397.
Sheriff, Staffs. 5 Nov. 1403-22 Oct. 1404, Som. and Dorset 1 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416, 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.
Commr. of arrest, Staffs., Salop May 1407; inquiry, Som., Dorset Jan. 1414 (lollardy), Dorset Nov. 1415 (defence), Som., Dorset Feb. 1416 (Chideock estates), Mar. 1418 (Fitzwaryn estates), Wilts., Dorset, Som., Devon, Cornw. July 1424 (concealments), Devon May 1430, June 1432 (piracy); array, Som. May 1415, Dorset May 1416, Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419, June 1421, May 1435, Jan. 1436; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Wilts., Dorset Mar. 1422, Som., Dorset, Bristol July 1426, May 1428, Wilts., Som., Dorset Mar. 1430, Som., Dorset Mar. 1431, Dorset Feb. 1434, Feb. 1436, Mar. 1439; of oyer and terminer, Wilts. Oct. 1426, Som. Oct. 1428; to assess a tax, Dorset Nov. 1431, Jan. 1436; take fealty of the abbot of Cerne Aug. 1436, of the abbot of Sherborne Sept. 1436; treat for payment of subsidies, Dorset Feb. 1441.
J.p. Dorset 16 Jan. 1414-July 1418, 12 Feb 1422-July 1437, 15 Oct. 1439-d., Som. 16 Jan. 1414-Nov. 1417, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423, 2 Dec. 1430-Feb. 1433, 18 Sept. 1433-Mar. 1440.
In 1386 the young Elizabeth Mautravers was betrothed to John (afterwards Lord) Lovell, but the King forbade the match, and after her widowed mother’s nuptuals with Sir Humphrey Stafford she was wedded to the latter’s son by an earlier marriage, Humphrey junior. The manor of Perton (Staffordshire) was entailed on the young couple and their issue, and it was there that they resided until their parents’ deaths in October 1413. Sir Humphrey senior also made over to his son his title to other properties in Staffordshire and, as a result, it was not long before our MP became involved in the dispute with their kinsmen, the Erdeswyks, which had been going on since 1373 and revolved around ownership of the manors of Amblecote and Bramshall. The quarrel came to a head in 1401 when Thomas Erdeswyk, the heir of Sir Humphrey’s great-uncle, Sir James Stafford, alleged that notwithstanding an agreement sworn on the Gospels and guaranteed by recognizances in 1,000 marks that he should have possession of Bramshall and Sir Humphrey should have Amblecote, the latter had forcibly ousted him from his allotted portion, brought him before the justices of assize in Staffordshire and, by various underhand and illegal means including maintenance, threats and procurement, still retained the manor. Both parties and Sir Humphrey’s father were ordered to appear before the King’s Council, bringing all the relevant documentary evidence and title deeds. The quarrel was to have ramifications over many years to follow. Stafford attended his first Parliament, in 1406, as Member for Staffordshire, and in the next year he was present at the parliamentary elections for the same county. He later built up his holdings in the area further by the acquisition of moieties of the manors of Penkridge and Rodbaston.2
In later years this shire knight was known as Sir Humphrey Stafford ‘of the silver hand’, apparently because of his use of an artificial limb after losing one of his own in a bellicose engagement. When this occurred is unclear, but he saw military action early in life, being knighted before October 1397, and at an unknown date between 1395 and 1403 he served with a company of five lances in the retinue of his kinsman Edmund, earl of Stafford. Sir Humphrey joined his uncle, Ralph*, in taking up arms for the earl again at the time of the rebellion of January 1400, and he also followed the earl on his journey to Scotland in the royal army in June that same year. However, shortly before Earl Edmund’s death at the battle of Shrewsbury, he formally entered the service of the prince of Wales, and from 13 June to 17 July 1403 he was in the prince’s company with his own contingent of four esquires and 100 archers. Furthermore, by 1406 he was in receipt of an annuity of £40 from the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall by Prince Henry’s grant. Campaigns against the rebels in Wales followed, and he was present at Aberystwyth in September 1407 when the town surrendered to his lord. A close connexion with the household of Henry of Monmouth is suggested, too, by Stafford’s association with (Sir) John Phelip*, with whom in June 1408 he entered into recognizances with the prince for 1,000 marks. The purpose of the bond is unclear.3
On 5 Feb. 1409 Stafford was bound in a recognizance for £1,000 that within a fortnight he would deliver to the treasurer of the Exchequer the son and heir of John, Lord Audley, then in his custody; and it was probably to compensate for the loss of the wardship that ten days later he was granted certain lands in Shropshire and Cambridgeshire lately held by Sir William Hugford*, along with the marriage of his heir. At this time Staffordshire was extremely disturbed by local unrest, and in the Parliament of 1410 the Commons petitioned against the government’s failure to convict felons in the county. The bill itself was evidently instigated by opponents of the Erdeswyks, since only the alleged crimes of them and their supporters were catalogued. But Stafford and his men were no doubt also culpable to some extent, and that April, while Parliament was still in progress, he was fined £5 ‘for divers contempts’. Two years later he was bound over to keep the peace towards William Bushbury of Wolverhampton, his principal offence being that of harbouring at Perton the associates of John Mynors* of Uttoxeter, who had damaged Bushbury’s property. Later, on 10 Apr. 1415, he acquired a general pardon for his misdemeanours, but meanwhile his quarrel with the Erdeswyks had not been forgotten: in 1414 he acted as one of the committee of arbitration, ex parte Edmund, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, in a recurrence of a feud between Ferrers and Hugh Erdeswyk* of Sandon.4
Early in Henry V’s reign Sir Humphrey’s residential connexion with Staffordshire virtually ceased because of his succession to the lands of his father and stepmother. His wife’s elder sister and coheir to the Mautravers estates, Maud, wife of Sir John Dynham of Hartland, Devon, had died childless in 1402, and her share of the inheritance had then passed to him jure uxoris, although most of the rest had remained in the possession of Sir Humphrey Stafford I and his wife. Thus, when the elder couple died in 1413 the younger Sir Humphrey and his wife inherited not only the Stafford estates but also those of Mautravers. These latter were centred on Hooke in Dorset, where Stafford now took up residence, and his service as a shire knight for the county began. His inheritance was also spread over ten other counties and provided him with an income of over £570 p.a. In addition, in November 1413 he procured a royal patent granting him for life the manor of Seavington (Somerset), previously held by his father and worth £10 a year, this sum, however, being henceforth deducted from his £40 annuity from the duchy of Cornwall. Stafford’s wealth improved the prospects of good marriages for his children, and it was now that one of his daughters was married to James, the nephew of Thomas, Lord Berkeley. The contract of marriage, in which the dower was fixed at 600 marks and Lord Thomas declared his nephew to be the heir male to the entailed Berkeley estates, was drawn up on as July 1414. When Berkeley died three years later, James was ‘at the house of ... Sir Humphrey Stafford in Dorset’, and naturally enough he enlisted his father-in-law’s help when the deceased’s daughter and her husband, Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, laid claim to all the Berkeley estates. It seems likely that it was the Warwick interest which procured Stafford’s dismissal from the Dorset bench in July 1418, on pain of a huge fine of £1,000. Certainly, his temporary ejection from Perton by John Throckmorton*, the Warwick chamberlain of the Exchequer, was incidental to the major disputed.5
At Queen Katherine’s coronation in February 1421 Stafford was accorded a scarlet livery at the Wardrobe as a knight in the King’s fee. At this time he was having difficulties over tenure of his manor of Chelmarsh (Shropshire), and did, indeed, petition the Lords in the Parliament of December following against its seizure by a party of Welshmen acting on behalf of Edmund, earl of March, who was by then with Henry V in France and sheltering behind his royal letters of protection. The countess of March was subsequently ordered to send before the Council such of her legal advisors as she pleased, to show cause why Stafford should not be restored to possession. Sir Humphrey’s case was no doubt assisted by his connexion with the Council through his half-brother, John Stafford, at that time keeper of the privy seal and later to be treasurer (1422-6) and chancellor (1432-50). Relations between the two were, despite John’s illegitimate birth, always intimate, and they are frequently recorded acting together. Thus, for example, in 1423 they were associated in a recognizance payable to Cecily, widow of Sir William Cheyne*, whose son and heir, Edmund Cheyne†, was betrothed to Stafford’s daughter, Alice. In 1426 agreement was made with William, Lord Botreaux, for Sir Humphrey’s second son, Sir John, then in France, to marry his daughter, Anne, it being understood that Stafford would settle on them four manors and a moiety in Staffordshire and Worcestershire and pay Botreaux as much as 900 marks. Three years later, in answer to a petition, and for a payment of 100 marks, he and his half-brother (who was by now bishop of Bath and Wells) were issued a royal licence to amortize land worth £20 a year to Abbotsbury abbey, to provide for masses for the King, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and themselves, and for the souls of Henry IV, Henry V and their own parents and kin. The petition was granted by the advice of the Lords in Parliament, apparently at the special instance of Duke Humphrey. In 1431, along with Sir Philip Courtenay†, the half-brothers were awarded the keeping of two-thirds of the castle and lordship of Dunster during the minority of the heir; and, on the death of Cecily Cheyne, they were granted custody of the manor of Tothill (Lincolnshire), only to surrender it in favour of Sir Humphrey’s widowed daughter, Alice. Then, in 1432, the Staffords procured the right to farm at the Exchequer the manor of Chiselborough (Somerset). Sir Humphrey’s last Parliament, assembled in the same year, was opened by his half-brother as chancellor. A close associate of theirs was John Hody*, the future chief justice, who in 1432 was party to the arrangements for Alice Cheyne to marry Walter Tailboys†, esquire.