STANFORD, Hugh, of Hextells, Staffs. and Wheathill, Salop.
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Family and Education
Receiver of the Staffs. estates of Edmund, earl of Stafford, by Mich. 1399-July 1403, of the earl’s feoffees July 1403-Feb. 1423, of Humphrey, earl of Stafford, Feb. 1423-bef. Mich. 1433.2
Escheator, Staffs. 12 Nov. 1403-10 Nov. 1402, 2 Nov. 1407-9 Dec. 1408.3
Under sheriff, Staffs. 1413-14, 1421-2.4
Commr. of inquiry, Staffs., Herefs., Worcs., Salop, Glos. July 1427 (concealed crown income).
Hugh’s family antecedents are uncertain, but he may have been the son or nephew of Richard Stanford* who sat as an MP on a number of occasions between 1382 and 1402 for the borough of Stafford, where he lived. Certainly, he himself resided just a few miles away, at Hextells, and early in the 15th century he rented land in the neighbourhood of the town.
Stanford made his first recorded appearance as a lawyer in the court of common pleas in November 1398, then standing bail for certain men from Staffordshire, and when, shortly afterwards, he conveyed notice to Thomas, duke of Surrey, to appear in Chancery regarding his occupation of the manor of Pattingham, it was on behalf of the sheriff of the same county.5 However, it was in the service of the earls of Stafford that he came to prominence. A relative of his, William Stanford, was engaged, some time before 1400, as clerk of Earl Edmund’s household, and Hugh himself was continuously employed from 1399 until his death first by the earl, then by his feoffees and finally by his son, as receiver of their Staffordshire estates. He was thus extremely active on the Staffords’ behalf: for example, in January 1400, having been made responsible for raising Edmund’s affinity to help put down the rebellion against Henry IV, he rode from Stafford to Tonbridge, Kent, to confer with the earl’s council, and then on to London to see his chief steward, Nicholas Bradshaw; and in July he travelled to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where his lord was preparing for the royal invasion of Scotland. In 1402 he appeared as a co-feoffee with Sir Hugh Stafford, Earl Edmund’s brother, and Bradshaw, of a moiety of the manor of Wyke by Shifnal, Shropshire, and in the following year he witnessed a grant made by the earl himself at Stafford. After the earl’s death in July 1403, and in association with Edmund Stafford, bishop of Exeter, Stanford was put in charge of the administration of such of the family’s estates in Staffordshire as had been placed in feoffment by the earl and his father before him. The Staffords were sometimes generous to their employees: since the autumn of 1401, for example, Stanford had been leasing land from them in the manor of Stafford on advantageous terms, and at some point before Michaelmas 1407 he was made farmer of their estate at Bradley for a term of five years.6
No doubt because of his position as receiver of the Staffordshire estates of the earldom, only a few months after Earl Edmund’s death Stanford was appointed as royal escheator in the county, and thus supervised the disposition of the inheritance for the duration of Earl Humphrey’s minority. He was perhaps also acting in the Stafford interest when, in August 1405, he arrayed a panel of jurors in the shire town in favour of the opponents of the abbot of Burton-upon-Trent. Possibly it was this close attachment that secured Stanford’s elections in 1411 and 1413 for the Shropshire borough of Bridgnorth, where the Stafford family held property, although he himself had established connexions with the area independently, for, before the end of Henry IV’s reign, he acquired land at Wheathill, some six miles away. Nevertheless, Stanford’s activities remained centred on Staffordshire. As resident there in June 1407 he acted as surety for the Exchequer lessees of Abergavenny priory; and Sir John Bagot* made him under sheriff of the county in 1413. In February 1420 (in association with another retainer of the earls of Stafford, John Harper*), Stanford found bail for the appearance in Chancery of one John Lancaster, and, under the alias of Hugh Totney ‘gentleman’, he performed a like service for John Over, the constable of Chirk castle, who had been misbehaving. Meanwhile, he had attended the county elections to the Parliaments of 1419, 1421 and 1423, and was later to be present at those of 1426, 1427 and 1431. At the time of his own return as MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, in December 1411, he was once again discharging the office of under sheriff.7
Throughout his parliamentary career Stanford’s connexions with the house of Stafford had remained close. As a feoffee of the manors belonging to Bishop Stafford of Exeter, he was party to various transactions to effect their transfer, in 1419, to the bishop’s nephew and heir, Thomas Stafford*; and in 1423, not long after he came of age, Humphrey, earl of Stafford, retained this loyal servant as receiver of the family’s Staffordshire estates. It was in his official capacity that Stanford formally witnessed a deed at Cheddleton in 1414. He had been replaced in the receivership by Michaelmas 1433, by which date he was presumably dead.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. S. Shaw, Staffs. i. 212.
- 2. Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/40A-45, 53.
- 3. PRO List ‘Escheators’, 152, notes Stanford’s appointment in November 1407, but also lists Sir John Bagot as escheator 1407-8. It was the former who officiated.
- 4. C219/12/6; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 50.
- 5. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 90; xvii. 50; CCR, 1396-9, p. 361. He may well have been the ‘Staunforde’ admitted to Lincoln’s Inn prior to 1420; LI Adm. i. 4.
- 6. Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/6 m. 7, 40A, 40B, 41-46; CPR, 1401-5, p. 48; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. viii. 46.
- 7. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 110; CFR, xiii. 74; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 65, 68; C219/12/3, 5, 6, 13/2, 4.5.
- 8. CCR, 1422-9, pp. 280, 378, 380; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 388-9; CAD, v. A11220; Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/53.