STAFFORD, Henry (by 1520-55 or later), of Pickering, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1520, illegit. s. of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.1

Offices Held

Steward of Henry, Baron Stafford’s lordship of Essington in Holderness, Yorks. 30 Nov. 1541; commr. sewers. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1555.2


The identity of the Henry Stafford who was returned four times for the borough of that name has to be established by a process of elimination. Were it not for the fact that on each occasion the style ‘armiger’ is appended to the name there would be a case for distinguishing the man who sat in the first two Parliaments from his namesake in the two remaining ones: the earlier might then have been the Duke of Buckingham’s heir Henry Baron Stafford and the later in all probability Stafford’s son and namesake. As one tainted in blood by his father’s condemnation Baron Stafford was eligible to sit in the Commons and as recorder of Stafford since 1532 he would have had a lien on that borough: only after his restoration in blood during the first session of the Parliament of 1547 would it have been necessary to replace him in the Commons, and his 20 year-old son Henry (the second so christened, after an earlier one had died in infancy) would have been at hand for the purpose. To this dual identification, however, the repeated use of ‘armiger’ is a stumbling-block, not only because it implies that the same individual was concerned throughout, but also because the style itself was hardly appropriate to either Henry Baron Stafford or his son. For his part the former, although he could have been properly so described, invariably appears as Baron Stafford, while his son could not have retained the style after his knighting in October 1553.3

No such difficulties arise in the case of a third Henry Stafford, an illegitimate son of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham and base brother of Henry Baron Stafford. This Henry Stafford is first heard of in 1541 when his brother granted him the stewardship of the family lands in Holderness. His association with Yorkshire makes it likely that he was the Henry Stafford who in 1544 led some horsemen from Bridlington to fight against the Scots, and this in turn suggests that it was he who some five years later was taken prisoner in Scotland and was rewarded by the Council with Scottish prisoners to the value of £200 as a contribution towards his own ransom of £700. While in the north in 1549 he was sued in the common pleas for £20 owed by him to a London mercer. He is, however, almost certainly to be distinguished from the Henry Stafford who in May 1547 despoiled a French ship off Rye and was being sued in the court of Admiralty for this offence three-and-a-half years later. By that time the Member for Stafford was a seasoned parliamentarian. It is not certain whether he or Sir William Stafford was the ‘Stafford, burgess’ given leave of absence on 22 Feb. 1552 when suffering from measles, but he may have played a part in the restoration of Henry Baron Stafford in 1547, and a bill introduced, but not passed, during the same session for bakers at Stafford and elsewhere could have engaged his attention. In the first Parliament of Mary’s reign he was one of the Members who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism, but two years later he did not follow the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in voting against one of the government’s bills.4

It is not easy to trace Stafford’s subsequent career but he may have gone to Ireland: a Henry Stafford gentleman was party to a fishing agreement there in 1556 and a man of the same name was appointed constable of the castle and honor of Dungarvan, Waterford, on 17 July 1559. In that case he is likely to have numbered among his kinsmen, perhaps as descendants, bearers of his name in south-east Ireland, including Sir Thomas Stafford, the reputed author of Pacata Hibernia.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parlt. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 317.
  • 2. Wedgwood, i. 317; CPR, 1554-5, p. 110.
  • 3. C219/18C/108, 19/92, 21/142, 24/142; Hatfield 207; Bodl. e Museo 17; Wedgwood, i. 315-16; CP.
  • 4. Wedgwood, i. 317; HMC 4th Rep. i. 326; HMC Bath, iv. 71; HMC. Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 30; APC, iii. 149, 197; CP 40/1141, rr. 291, 465; CJ, i. 2, 18; Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 5. APC, v. 259; CPR, 1558-60, p. 92; DNB (Stafford, Sir Thomas).