STAFFORD, Reade (c.1542-1605), of Bradfield, Berks.

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




Family and Education

b. c.1542, 1st s. of Thomas Stafford of Bradfield by Anne, da. of one Best of London. m. aft. 1568, Mabel, da. of Richard Staverton of Warvile, wid. of Francis Waferer of London, and of Nicholas Williams of Burfield, s.p. suc. fa. 1584. Kntd. 1601.

Offices Held

Escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 1585-6; j.p. Berks. from c.1583.1


A branch of the Stafford family, descended from the Staffords of Chebsey, Staffordshire, had settled in Berkshire in the time of this Member’s grandfather. Since then they had prospered, acquiring lands in the vicinity of Reading by purchase and by marriage. Stafford, a country gentleman, was in financial difficulties by the early 1590s, possibly because his father had settled lands on his younger sons. He therefore tried, in 1593, to break the entail on his property so that land could be sold to satisfy his and his father’s creditors. It may have been this that caused Stafford to seek election to Parliament for the first time in 1593, when he was already more than 50 years old, for a bill concerning his lands was discussed during this session. He made no known contribution to the business of either of his Parliaments. His return for East Grinstead, a duchy of Lancaster borough, was possibly due either to Sir Thomas Heneage, chancellor of the duchy, or to Lord Buckhurst. Stafford had no connexion with Heneage that is readily apparent, but he had at least two relatives at court, Lady Stafford, mistress of the robes, and his father-in-law, a gentleman pensioner of the Queen. His return for Truro was presumably due to Cecil acting through the Killigrews.

Stafford died leaving as his heir a 12 year-old nephew. His health had been bad for some time. More than a year before his death, upon hearing that his relative was at the last gasp, Sir Edward Stafford had written to Cecil, asking for the wardship of the heir or a lease of his lands. Some time later Cecil received a similar request from the Countess of Southampton on behalf of a friend. In his will Stafford showed himself more concerned for the welfare of another nephew, Robert, than for that of Edward, his heir. Edward was mentioned once only, when his uncle begged the lord chancellor and the master of the wards to deal justly with him. After making bequests amounting to more than £300 to his sisters and nieces, Stafford concentrated on his main concern. Robert Stafford was to be educated at the charge of the estate until he was of age. The executors, Sir Francis Stafford, the boy’s father, and Francis Englefield, were instructed to see

that due care be had and taken that until that age he be not suffered to lose any time, myself knowing by long experience how precious a thing time well spent is.

When he reached the age of 20 the young man was to be sent to the Middle Temple (with an annual allowance of £30) as his uncle knew ‘how honourable and profitable a study of the law is’. Bequests were made to the poor of Aldworth, Ashampstead, Bradfield, Burfield and Englefield, in which parishes the principal Stafford properties lay, and the residue of the unentailed estate was left to young Robert. As he had requested, Stafford was buried beside his wife in Bradfield church. An inquisition post mortem was taken 22 Aug. 1605.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 58, 130, 288; (lvii), 215; CSP Dom. 1601-3, p. 113.
  • 2. VCH Berks. iii. 121, 308, 396, 403, 431; iv. 5, 102; C142/203/21, 290/121; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 354; 1591-4, p. 334; APC, xiv. 215; Cott. Titus F. ii, anon. jnl. f. 59; HMC Hatfield, xi. 84; xvi. 204; xvii. 641; PCC 1 Stafford.