STAFFORD, Edward I (1536-1603), of Stafford Castle.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 17 Jan. 1536, 4th s. of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (d.1563), by Ursula, da. of Sir Richard Pole, KG, of Ellesborough, Bucks.; bro. of Sir Henry and Walter. m. c.1566, Mary (d.1609), da. of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. as 3rd Baron Stafford 1566; suc. mother to castle and manor of Stafford 1570.2

Offices Held

J.p. Salop from c.1582, q. by 1591, Staffs. by 1583, q. by 1591, Glos., Mont. by 1591; v.-adm. Glos. 1587; member, council in marches of Wales 1601.3


The first known reference to Stafford in official sources is a council order of May 1557, presumably connected with the arrest of his elder brother Thomas, executed that month, ordering him to ‘repair home to his father, and to continue there until he should receive further order’: there is no evidence that any action was taken against him. He may have been the ‘Mr. Stafford’ who served at Dunbar in August 1560, and was still receiving a pension, in January 1562, for work in Scotland.4

He was a ‘known wasteful man’ who squandered his fortune and by 1601 his lands in Staffordshire were reduced to the ‘rotten castle of Stafford’. While he had estates he treated his tenants despicably. Those at Caws complained of wrongful imprisonment and of their landlord’s contempt for the sheriff’s authority. The Privy Council supported them, writing to Stafford that they ‘much disliked’ his disorderly dealings, warning him that they wished to ‘hear no more of it, as he will upon his peril answer to the contrary’. One of his devices was to claim that free or copyhold tenants were villeins or ‘bondsmen’, and in 1586 the Council ordered him not to molest Richard Cole, mayor of Bristol, and his relative Thomas Cole, on this pretext. Private cases brought against him alleged violent treatment, eviction and wrongful imprisonment, and refusal to pay debts: the parson of Church Eaton, Staffordshire, stated that he was afraid of violence resulting from his dispute with Lord Stafford about the title to a parsonage. One Ralph Higgons, who apparently could not substantiate his statement, claimed that Stafford had uttered irreverent and treasonable words against the Queen and her parents. His tongue made him many enemies. He wrote to Richard Bagot, who claimed relationship with the Staffords by marriage, and whom he suspected of supporting Higgons against him: ‘Surely I will not exchange my name of Stafford for the name of "A bag of oats", for that is your name’. He knew of no ancestor of his who had married a Bagot, unless ‘peradventure she married her servant’. ‘Your neigh-hour’, he ended his letter, ‘I must be’.5

When in 1580 his name was put forward for membership of the council in the marches of Wales, he was blackballed by Sir Henry Sidney. When he tried again in 1600 it was obvious that the other members did not want him: Henry Townshend warned the government that, if admitted, Stafford would attend continually to draw the diet and allowances for himself and his servants, and so encumber the council’s work. However, he secured admission in the following year, immediately asking for a ‘convenient chamber’ in the council house, near to the dining room. Townshend and John Croke III demurred, pointing out that as it was vacation time there was no need for his attendance, and that they had no suitable room available.6

Despite the bad example he set to other officials, Stafford was expected to carry out the duties suitable to his position. The story that he was removed from the Staffordshire commission of the peace for harbouring a murderer is apocryphal. He was one of the peers who tried Mary Stuart and the Earl of Essex, and at one time he was joined with Edward, 4th Lord Dudley in putting down riots in Staffordshire.

Stafford was a Catholic sympathizer. His name was on a list drawn up in the interest of Mary Stuart in 1574; on another five years later ‘specially recorded in the agreement given to the Pope and sent to the King of Spain’; and, in October 1592 he was included among the ‘relievers and followers of Jesuits and seminary priests’. No action was taken against him. He died intestate 18 Oct. 1603. Letters of administration were granted to his surviving son and heir, Edward.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Huntington Lib., Hastings mss.
  • 2. CP; Vis. Staffs. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. v. pt. 2), 276-7; Staffs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxiii), 213; C142/284/33; CPR, 1569-72, pp. 35, 245; VCH Staffs. v. 87.
  • 3. Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 216; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 358-9; Staffs. Q. Sess. Rolls (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), passim; APC, xv. 254.
  • 4. APC, vi. 83; CSP For. 1560-1, p. 209; 1561-2, p. 457.
  • 5. CPR, 1569-72, pp. 236, 458, 460, 461; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), i. 350; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. iv(2), 17, 35; viii(2), 149; n.s. xi. 85-6; xii. 82; xiii-xv, passim; J. A. Longford, Staffs. and Warws. i. 404; C142/284/33; APC, x. 206; xi. 64, 215; xii. 171; xiii. 114; xiv. 48-9, 100, 153, 190-1; xv. 303-4; xix. 291; NLW 14800; Staffs. Rec. Soc. 1938, pp. 93-4; P. H. Williams, 308, 309; Lansd. 70, f. 6.
  • 6. P. H. Williams, 139, 309; HMC Hatfield, xi. 225, 320.
  • 7. Flenley, 151, 169, 216; APC, x. 324; Cath. Rec. Soc. liii. 125, 230; HMC Hatfield, iv. 242; PCC admon. act bk. 1604, f. 190; CP.