STAFFORD, Sir Edward (c.1552-1605), of Cannon Row, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - Feb. 1605

Family and Education

b. c.1552, 1st s. of Sir William Stafford† of Chebsey, Staffs., gent. pens. 1540-53, and 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of Henry, 1st Bar. Stafford, mistress of the robes to Queen Elizabeth, c.1563-1603; bro. of John†. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1559, Pembroke by 1564; MA Oxf. 1592; G. Inn 1592; L. Inn 1594. m. (1) Robsart, da. of Alexander Chapman of Rainthorpe Hall, Norf., 1s. 2da. d.v.p.; (2) 29 Nov. 1579, Douglas (bur. 11 Dec. 1608), da. of William, 1st Bar. Howard of Effingham, wid. of John, 2nd Bar. Sheffield, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1556; kntd. Oct. 1583.1 d. 5 Feb. 1605.

Offices Held

Gent. pens. by 1578-1603;2 special amb. to France 1578-80, 1589, resident amb. 1583-90;3 remembrancer of first fruits by 1592-d.;4 clerk of the pipe 1596-d.;5 commr. Union 1604.6

Freeman, guild of merchants, Winchester, Hants 1592.7


Stafford was descended from a Domesday Book tenant-in-chief. The family regularly represented the county from which they took their name from 1290, and were raised to the peerage nine years later. Stafford’s father was a younger son of the Blatherwick branch who first married the sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, and died in exile in Geneva during the Marian reaction.8 Stafford owed his career chiefly to his mother, who lay in the queen’s bedchamber for 40 years and bore the responsibility for probably the most extensive royal wardrobe in Europe. However he was obliged to sell his patrimony when he came of age, and depended for the rest of his life on the Crown and his second wife’s jointure.9 Even after the death of her seducer and his bitter enemy, the earl of Leicester, Stafford failed to achieve the high office repeatedly predicted for him after his long and successful tenure of the embassy to France.10

In the new reign Stafford was again disappointed, when the king decided to retain Sir John Fortescue* as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, thereby breaking a promise made by Elizabeth. In compensation he was granted land worth £60 a year. The Crown initially chose the manor of Islingham, in the parish of Frindsbury, north Kent,11 but when Stafford was elected for nearby Queenborough in 1604 it was on the interest of Sir Edward Hoby*, the son of an earlier ambassador to Paris.12 In the opening session of the first Stuart Parliament, Stafford was appointed to 32 committees and made five speeches. As all but two of the privy councillors were in the Upper House, it fell to him and Sir John Herbert as ‘two of the more eminent Members’ to conduct Sir Edward Phelips to the Speaker’s chair on 19 Mar. 1604.13 He was named to the committee for privileges (22 Mar.) and both grievances committees (23 Mar.), having a personal interest in the motion concerning wardship made by Sir Robert Wroth I, as he was a premature and somewhat shame-faced applicant for the wardship of the heir to (Sir) Reade Stafford†, whom he mistakenly believed to be at his last gasp.14 On 26 Mar. and 22 May he was among those appointed to treat with the Lords on this grievance, and subsequently took part in a debate on the subject in the Lower House (1 June).15 He was also required to participate in preparing for Phelips an explanation of the refusal of the Commons to accept Fortescue as Member for Buckinghamshire (27 Mar.), set it down in writing (30 Mar.), confer with the judges (5 Apr.) and consider a bill to disable outlaws from sitting (31 March).16 Having experience of five previous parliaments, he was naturally included among those entrusted with recommending a better method of naming committees (16 April).17 On 14 Apr. he was instructed to attend a joint conference concerning the union with Scotland, and on 12 May he was one of the two former ambassadors appointed to be commissioners.18 Four days later he was sent to the Lords to announce that the Commons were ready for another conference on the subject.19 He was also appointed to committees on bills to naturalize three prominent Scottish courtiers (4, 18 and 30 May), to examine the bishop of Bristol’s pamphlet attacking the Commons for their dilatory handling of the matter (26 May), and to prepare for a conference about it (1 June).20 He may have introduced the bill for the restitution of Lord William Howard, as his name stands first on the committee list (15 May).21 He was among those on 30 May entrusted with the bill to provide for the Countess of Kildare, whose husband the 11th Lord Cobham (Henry Brooke alias Cobham†) was under attainder, and he carried it to the Lords with several others on 14 June.22 He desired (12 June) that ‘friends might treat’ between the two families descended from Protector Somerset, successfully moved that Edward Seymour* should be sent to approach the earl of Hertford, and was appointed to the committee for the estate bill.23 He took part in the debate of 20 June on the Apology of the Commons, although his words went unrecorded, and eight days later was one of seven Members sent to attend the king’s sick-bed.24 He was named to the committee for the Lord’s bill to annex certain lands to the Crown (4 July), but two days later, with the prorogation now imminent, agreed that it should be allowed to sleep until the next session.25

Stafford died ‘almost suddenly’ during the recess, less than five months after his mother. He was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster on 5 Feb. 1605, leaving his moribund cousin still above ground.26 Neither will nor administration has been found. His creditors included the Venetian Agent, Paulo Lando.27 Stafford was the last of this branch of the family to sit in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


HMC Hatfield, viii. 104; x. 28-9.

  • 1. The Gen. n.s. xxxi. 107; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 72; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iii. 369; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; LI Admiss.; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 276; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 82.
  • 2. CPR, 1575-8, p. 433; E179/70/113; LC2/4/4, f. 59v.
  • 3. Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 94-5, 97-8.
  • 4. R. Robinson, ‘Briefe Collection of Courtes of Recordes’ (Cam. Misc. xx), 26; Chamberlain Letters, i. 204;
  • 5. Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty, 65.
  • 6. CJ, i. 208a.
  • 7. Hants RO, Winchester bk. of ordinances, f. 270.
  • 8. C.H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 296.
  • 9. J. Stow, Survey of London ed. J. Strype, ii. pt. 6, p. 41; Staffs. Hist. Colls. xiv. 183; Harl. 6993, f. 44; Les Reportes del Cases in Camera Stellata 1593-1609 ed. W.P. Baildon, 199.
  • 10. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 120, 240, 244, 293-4, 297, 324; Chamberlain Letters, i. 126, 150.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 14, 89, 139, 152.
  • 12. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 335.
  • 13. CJ, i. 141b.
  • 14. Ibid. 149b, 151a-b; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 264.
  • 15. CJ, i. 154b, 222b, 230b.
  • 16. Ibid. 156b, 160a-b, 166b.
  • 17. Ibid. 172b.
  • 18. Ibid. 172a, 208a.
  • 19. Ibid. 211b.
  • 20. Ibid. 198b, 213b, 227a, 228b, 230a.
  • 21. Ibid. 211a.
  • 22. Ibid. 229a, 239a; LJ, ii. 320b.
  • 23. CJ, i. 237a-b.
  • 24. Ibid. 243b, 248a.
  • 25. Ibid. 252a, 1002b.
  • 26. Chamberlain Letters, i. 204; Memorials of St. Margaret’s Westminster, 484; J. Nichols, Progs. of Queen Eliz. iii. 544.
  • 27. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 144; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 337.