STAFFORD, Sir Humphrey I (d.1413), of Southwick in North Bradley, Wilts. and Hooke, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. aft. 1341, 1st s. of Sir John Stafford† of Amblecote and Bramshall, Staffs. by his 2nd w. Margaret, 4th da. of Ralph, 1st earl of Stafford; er bro. of Ralph*, m. (1) c.1365, Alice (b.c.1345), da. and h. of Sir John Greville of Southwick, 1s. Sir Humphrey II*; (2) between June 1386 and Jan. 1388, Elizabeth (c.1345-17 Oct. 1413), da. and coh. of Sir William d’Aumarle† of Woodbury, Devon, wid. of Sir John Mautravers† of Hooke. 1s. illegit. Kntd. by 1366.1
Tax assessor, Wilts. May 1379; collector Dec. 1384.
J.p. Wilts. 26 May 1380-Dec. 1382, Oct. 1397-May 1401, Dorset 15 July 1389-d., Som. 16 May 1401-d.
Commr. of inquiry, Wilts. July 1380 (keepership of Grovele forest), Dorset Nov. 1388 (shipwreck), Som., Dorset Mar. 1393 (concealments), Dorset Feb. 1394 (Hamond property), Som. June 1397 (Payn property), Dorset July 1397 (tithes), Som. Feb. 1400 (treasons and felonies), Hants Feb. 1401 (marriage agreement), Wilts. Apr. 1403 (wastes), Dorset Mar. 1404 (piracy), Jan. 1405 (decay of Lyme), Som., Dorset June 1406 (concealments), Devon, Cornw., Som. Sept. 1406 (ransoms of prisoners abroad), Dorset Feb. 1408 (decay of Melcombe), Devon, Cornw., Som., Dorset, Suss., Hants, Bristol, Glos., Worcs., Oxon., Warws., Mdx. Mar. 1408 (concealments), Bristol July 1411 (wastes); to put down unlawful assemblies, Wilts. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer, Dorset Feb. 1390, Som. July 1393, Apr. 1401, Feb. 1410; to survey the estates of the Lords Appellant of 1388, Som., Dorset, Hants, Wilts. Oct. 1397; seize the possessions of John, Lord Cobham, Wilts. Oct. 1397; of array, Dorset Dec. 1399, July 1402, Aug., Oct. 1403, July 1404; sewers, Som. Aug. 1401; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Dorset May 1402, of the King’s rights at Litton Cheney church Mar. 1404; raise forces for the relief of Carmarthen Oct. 1403; raise rival loans, Dorset Sept. 1405, Som., Dorset June 1406, Dorset June 1410.
Sheriff, Staffs. 1 Nov. 1383-11 Nov. 1384, 1 Dec. 1388-15 Nov. 1389, Som. and Dorset 18 Nov. 1386-7, 21 Oct. 1391-18 Oct. 1392, 22 Nov.-19 Dec. 1405, 29 Nov. 1410-10 Dec. 1411.
This shire knight, who was to play a large part in public affairs in Dorset for a quarter of a century, came from the west Midlands. His father was a younger son of William Stafford† of Sandon, Amblecote and Bramshall, Staffordshire, and at his death, some time before August 1373, the position regarding the ownership of these estates was unclear. As a result, for more than 40 years the Staffords (Sir Humphrey and his son of the same name) were engaged in lawsuits with Thomas Erdeswyk, the son of our MP’s cousin Margaret, who complained of their ‘graund alliance, affinitie et grandes manaces et procurement’ and levied charges of maintenance against them before Henry IV’s council. Nevertheless, Sir Humphrey’s early career centred on these family holdings in Staffordshire, and his first shrievalty was in that county. His first marriage, to a ward of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, gave him the manor and advowson of Burmington in Warwickshire, and it was the community of this shire which initially returned him to Parliament. Both of his financially successful marriages totally altered his sphere of interest, however: while he never lost his original connexions with the Midlands, his preoccupations came to concentrate on Dorset, and several years before his death he relinquished nearly all his lands in Staffordshire to his son and heir. Through his first marriage, Stafford also acquired Southwick in Wiltshire, together with the manors and advowsons of Clutton and Farmborough in Somerset, and it was for Wiltshire that he next sat in the Commons, in 1384. His second wife, Elizabeth d’Aumarle, a widow, had been left by her former husband, Sir John Mautravers, the manor of Hooke and some 14 other manorial estates in Dorset as well as property in Oxfordshire, and as coheir with her sister Margaret, wife of Sir William Bonville I* of Shute, she also brought to the marriage half of the estates of their kinsman, Sir John Merriott†, which included Merriott, Great Lopen and Stratton in Somerset. Only because of these holdings was Stafford able to represent Dorset in 12 Parliaments from 1388 onwards. He added to these substantial estates by other means as well: Perton (Staffordshire) was probably acquired by purchase, and in 1388 he bought from the Crown for £110, the Cornish manors of ‘Polhorman’ and Penhergard along with property in Bodmin, all forfeited in the Merciless Parliament by Sir Robert Tresilian†, c.j.KB. Before his death he took possession of a third part of the lordship of ‘Caliland’, also in Cornwall, the remaining two-thirds of which belonged to his young kinsman, Humphrey, earl of Stafford. According to the tax assessment of 1412, our MP’s income from land was just over £570 a year, of which some £237 came from Dorset and the rest from estates in Somerset, Cornwall, Wiltshire and Staffordshire. Besides obtaining this income he evidently dabbled in the lucrative pilgrim traffic: in 1395 he joined Sir John Rodney* in a joint venture to convey 40 pilgrims to Santiago on the latter’s ship, the Kateryne.2
Before he became a man of such wide estates and influence Stafford had seen a considerable amount of military service, for the most part in the retinues of his kinsmen, the earls of Stafford. Indeed, much of his 14 years between 1359 and 1373 were spent abroad. In 1359, no more than a youth, he fought in France in the contingent led by his grandfather, Ralph, earl of Stafford, and two years later, as an esquire, he accompanied the same nobleman on the expedition to Ireland led by the King’s son, Lionel. In September 1362, October 1366 and April 1369 he was recorded making preparations to sail to Gascony in the company of the Black Prince, and it was probably on the first of these expeditions that he was knighted. In 1372 he served in the retinue of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, on the unsuccessful voyage for the relief of La Rochelle, and in June 1373 he sailed for Flanders under the command of his uncle, Hugh, earl of Stafford. Later on Sir Humphrey is found having business dealings with Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, Richard II’s half-brother. But despite such connexions he does not seem to have become much involved politically. He was called upon by the Lords Appellant in March 1388 to hear and administer in Dorset the oath in support of their regime, but later (in August 1397), perhaps to atone for this and prove his loyalty to the King, he made a loan to Richard II of 100 marks. The latter was clearly satisfied, for he appointed him as a surveyor of the Appellants’ estates following their forfeiture a month later. Yet it is noticeable that after the accession of Henry IV Stafford was more in favour with the government, and, indeed, as a ‘King’s knight’ on 28 Oct. 1399, only a fortnight after Henry’s coronation, he was granted jointly with his wife certain lands in Seavington, Somerset, to hold for life. Judging from his parliamentary service and public activities, Stafford was much more in sympathy with Henry IV than with Richard II, and his support of Henry was more whole hearted. He attended the great council of 1401 and advanced loans to the Crown of £50 in that year and £100 in 1403. He was unwilling, however, despite pressure from the Council and a personal visit from Edward, duke of York, to make further contributions to help pay the duke’s army in Wales two years later. Such was Stafford’s status in Dorset that he was appointed sole commissioner to raise a loan of 400 marks in the county in 1410. Not all, of course, had always held him in respect, for while he was in Cornwall in 1389 John Trelawny I* and others had ‘set themselves in armed array to kill him, assaulted him, and shot him with a certain engine called a "gunne" so that his life was despaired of’.3
Stafford survived the effects of years of military service and such attacks to live to old age. His public career, in which he had served five times as sheriff and 15 as Member of Parliament, virtually ended in 1411 when he must have been nearly 70. In 1408 he had been a party to grants of the manors of Winterbourne ‘Wast’, Bockhampton and Swanage, together with the advowson of the church at Winterbourne, to Exeter cathedral for the foundation of ‘Bishop Stafford’s chantry’, where three chaplains were to pray for the King and his sons, Edmund Stafford, bishop of Exeter (Sir Humphrey’s relative), and himself, and to keep his own and the bishop’s obits. Sir Humphrey made his will on 5 Apr. 1413, adding a codicil on 30 Oct. to alter certain provisions following the death of his wife, which had occurred on 17 Oct. The original will included monetary bequests of £32 to his executors, to the friars of Stafford, Dorchester, Ilchester, Bridgwater and Salisbury, to the nuns at Ilchester and to three churches on his estates. The codicil reveals something of Stafford’s household: 23 named persons, all probably his retainers, received bequests in cash totalling some £20, and among them were two servants of the kitchen, two boys of the chapel and ‘Alice of the chamber’. To each man attending on him in his household in the position of gentleman he gave £1, to each female servant £1, to each valet 13s.4d., to each groom 6s.8d., and to each page 3s.4d. The sum of £23 13s.4d. was given to the abbot and convent of Westminster for arrears of rent due from the manor of Perton, and £8 was to go to a chaplain to celebrate mass for the testator’s soul for two years. A large bequest, of £20, was made to the Benedictine abbey of Abbotsbury to provide similar religious services. Stafford’s relations with the abbey had long been close: his seat at Hooke was not far away; and in 1409 he and others had made alienations to the house of lands and rents in Kingston Russell to endow a chantry for Sir Walter Clopton c.j.KB and his family. Stafford wished to be buried in the abbey church, in the chapel of St. Andrew near his second wife, who had recently been interred in the tomb of her first husband. He died on the night of 31 Oct. His will and that of his wife were both proved on 29 Nov. at Lambeth.4
Stafford was succeedd by his son, Sir Humphrey II, who had married his own stepsister, Elizabeth, by now the sole heir of the Mautravers estates. Despite the circumstances of his birth, his illegitimate son, John, born of a liaison with one Emma ‘of North Bradley’, rose to be bishop of Bath and Wells (1424-43) and archbishop of Canterbury (1443-52), and having held the offices of keeper of the privy seal (1421-2) and treasurer of England (1422-6), served as chancellor from 1432 to 1450.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Wilts. N. and Q. iii. 194; Genealogist, n.s. xxxi. 173-4.
- 2. Feudal Aids, vi. 428; Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc. xix), 312; CFR, xiv. 52; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 258-9; 1399-1402, pp. 365-6; 1413-19, pp. 42, 126-7, 338, 410; CPR, 1388-92, p. 191; 1391-6, p. 566; 1396-9, p. 217; 1399-1401, pp. 39, 134; 1401-5, pp. 35, 39-40; CIPM, x. 100; xvi. 262-4, 411-13; VCH Warws. v. 26; VCH Wilts. viii. 221; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 129-30, 472, 559-60; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. iv. 204-7; xiii. 110, 139-40; xv. 117-18; E28/9/26-27, 23/56.
- 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. viii. 103-4, 107, 109, 111, 115-16; CCR, 1385-9, p. 406; 1389-92, pp. 124, 563; CPR, 1361-4, p. 50; 1388-92, p. 134; 1396-9, pp. 178, 308; 1399-1401, p. 39; 1413-16, p. 129; CFR, x. 167; xii. 228; PPC, i. 161, 202, 273, 343; E403/571 m. 7.
- 4. CPR, 1405-8, p. 466; 1408-13, p. 95; C138/3/41; Som. Med. Wills, 304-6, 312; C143/438/21; Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 336-7.
- 5. Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, iii. 1750-2.