William Stafford (courtier)

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For other people named William Stafford, see William Stafford.
Sir William Stafford
Spouse(s) Dorothy Stafford, Mary Boleyn

Issue

Sir Edward Stafford
William Stafford
Sir John Stafford
Elizabeth Stafford
Ursula Stafford
Dorothy Stafford
Noble family Stafford
Father Sir Humphrey Stafford
Mother Margaret Fogge
Born c.1500
Died 5 May 1556
Geneva, Switzerland

Sir William Stafford, of Chebsey, in Staffordshire (c.1500–5 May 1556) was an Essex landowner and the second husband of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, and one-time mistress of King Henry VIII of England.

Biography[edit]

Stafford was the second son of Sir Humphrey Stafford (d. 22 September 1545) of Cottered and Rushden, Hertfordshire,[1] by his first wife, Margaret Fogge, daughter of Sir John Fogge of Ashford, Kent.[2] His family was distantly related to the mighty Staffords who controlled the dukedom of Buckingham and the earldom of Wiltshire until 1521.[3] Nonetheless, William Stafford was a commoner, and only a second son, and thus served Henry VIII as a soldier.[4]

In 1532, Stafford was listed as one of the two hundred people who accompanied Henry VIII to France. The purpose of the journey was for Henry and his fiancée, Anne Boleyn, to meet with Francis I so that he might show his public support and approval for the annulment of Henry's first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Among the other travellers was Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary, the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn, who was by then the Earl of both Wiltshire and Ormonde. With her connections, Mary had excellent marriage prospects.[5] Nonetheless, Mary and Stafford married in secret in 1534. When the marriage was discovered after Mary became pregnant, the couple were banished from court.

The couple initially lived at Chebsey in Staffordshire, but later moved to the Boleyn family home, Rochford Hall at Rochford, in Essex. They lived in relative obscurity until Mary died in 1543, after which Stafford served in Scotland. He was knighted there in 1545 and, two years later, became an MP for Hastings. Also in 1545, Stafford remarried, this time to his second cousin, Dorothy Stafford, the youngest daughter of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and Ursula Pole (d.1570).

During the reign of Mary I, Stafford and his family fled to Geneva. He died there on 5 May 1556, not living to see the reign of his first wife's niece, Elizabeth I, or to see his wife, children, and stepchildren become influential courtiers in Elizabeth's court.[6]

Marriages and Issue[edit]

In 1534 Sir William Stafford secretly wed, as her second husband, Mary Boleyn (c.1499–1543), sister of King Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Mary Boleyn is said to have been pregnant at the time of her marriage to Sir William Stafford;[7] however if there were children of the marriage, nothing further is known of them.[8][9]

Stafford married secondly, Dorothy Stafford (d. 22 September 1604), daughter of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford, and Ursula Pole, by whom he had three sons and three daughters:[10][11]

  • Sir John Stafford of Marlwood Park (January 1556 – 28 September 1624), Thornbury, Gloucestershire, who married firstly, Bridget Clopton (d. March 1574), the daughter of William Clopton of Kentwell Hall, by whom he had a son,[14][15] and secondly, on 29 January 1580, Millicent Gresham (buried 24 December 1602), the daughter of Edmund Gresham (buried 31 August 1586) and Joan Hynde, by whom he had no issue.[16]
  • Dorothy Stafford, who likely died in infancy.[20]

In Popular Culture[edit]

Films & Television[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Stafford appears as a principal character in The Last Boleyn, by Karen Harper, a book about the life of Mary Boleyn in the years before, during, and after her time as the mistress of Henry VIII . He was called by all who knew him (in particular Henry VIII ) as "Staff".
  • Stafford (called "William") also was a main character in The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory, who escorts Mary Boleyn to Hever Castle, first starting in 1527. They become friends soon after the death of Mary's first husband, William Carey and William (Stafford) buys Mary's children, Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys, and Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, their first ponies. Mary and William marry in 1533, and in secret, and Anne Boleyn, Mary's sister, doesn't discover it until a year later, when Mary discovers that she is pregnant for the third time with her daughter, also called Anne.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 'Parishes: Cottered', A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3 (1912), pp. 226-232 Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  2. ^ Richardson IV 2011, p. 64.
  3. ^ Humphrey Stafford was first cousin five times removed of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham.
  4. ^ Hart, Kelly (June 1, 2009). The mistresses of Henry VIII (First ed.). The History Press. pp. 114–118. ISBN 0-7524-4835-8. 
  5. ^ Not only was Mary the daughter of an earl, but also the niece of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk through her mother, Elizabeth Howard. Coupled with the fact that she was the future sister-in-law to a king, Mary could expect to marry very well.
  6. ^ Mary Boleyn had two children during her first marriage to Sir William Carey, Henry and Catherine Carey. The children were both rumored to have been fathered by Henry VIII, but the claim is dismissed by most historians.
  7. ^ Hughes 2004.
  8. ^ Greenfield 1880, p. 304.
  9. ^ Emerson states that they 'may have had two children, Edward (1535–1545) and Anne'; see Emerson, Kate, 'Mary Boleyn (c.1498-July 1543)' in 'A Who's Who of Tudor Women' Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  10. ^ Richardson states that they had four sons, including Sir Edward, William, and Sir John, and two daughters, Ursula, who married Richard Drake, esquire, and Elizabeth, who married Sir William Drury and Sir John Scot; Richardson IV 2011, p. 64.
  11. ^ Adams 2006.
  12. ^ McDermott 2004.
  13. ^ Holmes 2004.
  14. ^ The Royal Descents of 500 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States, by Gary Boyd Roberts, 1993 Page: 231
  15. ^ Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth-Century Colonists, by David Faris, 2nd Edition 1999, NEHGS Page: 50-51
  16. ^ Gower 1883, pp. 167–8; Nichols 1846, pp. 142–4.
  17. ^ Lipscomb 1847, pp. 153–4.
  18. ^ Adams states that two daughters likely died in infancy; however Richardson and other sources state that Ursula married Richard Drake.
  19. ^ Bridgeman 1883, pp. 18, 36; Ormerod 1819, p. 334.
  20. ^ Adams 2006.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]