STAFFORD, Sir Thomas (1577-1655), of The Savoy, Mdx.

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




Family and Education

b. Dec. 1577, illegit. s. of Sir George Carew I* (d.1629) of The Savoy and Clopton, Warws. and da. of one Cavannagh, w. of one Stafford.1 educ. G. Inn 1619.2 m. aft. 4 Feb. 1636, Mary, da. of Sir Henry Woodhouse† of Hickling, Norf., wid. of Sir Robert Killigrew* of Kempton, Mdx., s.p.3 kntd. 6 Oct. 1611.4 d. by 20 Feb. 1655.5

Offices Held

Capt. of horse [I] 1600-4, 1625-9.6

Gent. usher of the privy chamber to Queen Anne by 1612-18,7 comptroller 1618-19;8 gent. usher to Queen Henrietta Maria by 1627,9 treas. by 1642;10 master of the Ordnance (acting) 1629-34.11


The illegitimate but only surviving offspring of an Anglo-Irish soldier and courtier, Stafford followed his father into military service in Ireland, and at the age of 23 was placed in command of a troop of horse to help suppress Tyrone’s rebellion.12 On returning to England his father, created Lord Carew in 1605, was appointed vice-chamberlain to Anne of Denmark, and was able to find a post for Stafford in her privy chamber. Stafford was promoted to comptroller of the queen’s Household in 1618.13

On the recommendation of his ‘good friend’ Sir Robert Killigrew Stafford was returned for Helston to the 1621 Parliament. His only committee appointment was for a bill to naturalize a Scottish courtier (22 March).14 In 1623 Stafford and Sir Francis Godolphin*, ‘whose experience and skill we know to be good in these mineral matters’, were ordered by the Privy Council (along with Sir Henry Williams* and Sir John Lewis*, ‘being near dwellers to the place’), to investigate mines operated by (Sir) Hugh Myddelton* in Cardiganshire, with a view to improving the extraction of lead and silver from the ore.15 Killigrew obtained a seat at Bodmin for Stafford at the next general election. Once again Stafford received only a single appointment, this being to attend a conference with the Lords on recusancy (3 Apr. 1624).16

After the prorogation Carew recommended Stafford to Sir Edward Conway I* for a command in Ireland, pleading that he had ‘never, till now, made suit unto His Majesty for any reward for his long and diligent service’, and stressing his ‘merit and sufficiency’ for the post.17 Appointed a captain of horse in January 1625, Stafford complained that his troop was ‘the meanest in Ireland’; but he crossed over on 10 Apr., bringing news of the king’s death to the 1st earl of Cork at Youghal.18 He returned to England on 24 May to attend James’s funeral in place of his father, who had been struck down with palsy, and he was also appointed to the new queen’s Household.19

Stafford did not stand for Parliament again, and may have been surprised by the attack on Carew, recently created 1st earl of Totnes and one of the duke of Buckingham’s closest associates, by the Commons in 1626. On his father’s death in 1629 Stafford inherited property in Essex, Devon and Cornwall, and a pension of £500 out of the Alienations Office.20 He also took over as acting master of the Ordnance (though, presumably because of his illegitimacy was denied formal appointment), and worked up his father’s papers into an account of the Irish wars, published in 1633.21 He remained single until his 60th year, when he fell ‘piteously in love’ with his friend Killigrew’s widow. Having failed to catch the much more eligible Sir Edward Barrett*, she eventually yielded to his suit.22 With her son Sir William Killigrew II*, and also with Godolphin, Stafford joined in the 1630s a syndicate to drain the Eight Hundred Fen in Lincolnshire.23

Stafford left England with Queen Henrietta Maria after the failed attempt to arrest the Five Members, writing from The Hague on 8 June 1642 that he had been ‘plunged into an ocean of troubles, having the care of this great family lying wholly on me, and that by the express command of both their Majesties, under the title of treasurer of the queen’s household’. Presumably he returned with the queen in 1643, and thereafter ‘waited upon his service, according to the duty of his place’.24 Perhaps due to old age he was not appointed to any royalist commissions during the Civil War, but was nevertheless fined £1,000 on the Exeter articles, and finally discharged in January 1651.25 In his will, dated 25 Aug. 1653, Stafford left his house in the Savoy to his wife, ‘in whose kind society I acknowledge that I have lived most contentedly happy’, and various estates in Ireland to her daughter. In accordance with his wishes he was buried in the parish church of Stratford-on-Avon, where there stands a sumptuous memorial to his father.26

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Lismore Pprs. ed. A.B. Grosart (ser. 1), ii. 103-4, 317.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. Private Corresp. of Jane, Lady Cornwallis ed. Braybrooke, 284.
  • 4. CSP Ire. 1608-10, p. 438; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 151.
  • 5. PROB 11/247, f. 243.
  • 6. CSP Carew 1515-74, lviii; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 55; 1625-32, p. 196; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 19.
  • 7. LC2/4/6, f. 26; SP14/86/180; E315/107, f. 15; LR7/80/2, unfol.
  • 8. LC2/5, f. 33.
  • 9. LR5/57, f. 3.
  • 10. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2), v. 82.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 507, 557; O.F.G. Hogg, Royal Arsenal, 1037.
  • 12. CSP Carew 1515-74, lviii.
  • 13. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 288; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 106; Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1), ii. 103-4.
  • 14. CJ, i. 570b.
  • 15. APC, 1621-3, p. 514.
  • 16. CJ, i. 754a.
  • 17. CSP Carew 1515-74, lviii; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 316.
  • 18. CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 55; CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 454, 478; Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1), ii. 153.
  • 19. PROB 11/164, f. 69; Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1), ii. 157, 266.
  • 20. PROB 11/155, f. 36; SP16/180/16, 18.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 594; 1629-31, p. 4; Pacata Hibernia (1633), STC 23132.
  • 22. Private Corresp. of Jane, Lady Cornwallis, 284.
  • 23. CSP Dom. 1635-6, pp. 27-8; 1637-8, pp. 151, 540.
  • 24. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 2), v. 82.
  • 25. CCAM, 188; CCC, 1301-2.
  • 26. PROB 11/247, f. 243; Dugdale, Warws. 686-7.