Chapter 5, Page 1c
The Early History of the Family in England
The Stafford Royal Family

Edmund Stafford (a descendant of Hervey Bagot) became a part of the Royal Family when he became engaged and married Anne, daughter of Thomas (of Woodstock), son of Plantagenet King Edward III. Thus began the illustrious House of Stafford.

Anne's mother Eleanor inherited the fortunes of the Bohun family, and her wealth, along with the wealth of King Edward's son Thomas, fell to their daughter Anne when her brother Humphrey died without heirs. Humphrey Stafford (son of Edmund Stafford and Anne) inherited the title of Buckingham at his mother's death and became the (1st) Duke of Buckingham.    (Dukes of Buckingham Coat of Arms):

The grandsons of Humphrey, Henry and Humphrey Stafford III, were taken in by the future king Edward and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville, when the lads' grandfather Humphrey died in 1460 in the War of the Roses. Their father, Humphrey II, had died in the War of the Roses in 1455. The young Henry and Humphrey III were made royal wards of the newly crowned King Edward IV, and for several years they lived in the queen's household. Henry Stafford, (2nd) Duke of Buckingham, was directly descended from King Edward III, and his vast estates lay all over central England.

At a young age Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, became engaged and married Catherine Woodville, the queen's sister, in 1466. Apparently Henry's advisors had convinced him that his adherence to the Yorkist cause was vital, and his marriage was designed to bind him even more closely to the reigning house. Yet, despite these precautionary moves, Henry seemed never to be completely and fully trusted by the present court. Although being the greatest of all nobles, he took no part in public affairs while King Edward IV lived, except for acting as seneschal at the Duke of Clarence's trial.

When the king died, however, Henry Stafford, through his servant Persivall, quickly came to terms with the Duke of Gloucester, the future King Richard III, and from April to July 1483, he was in the forefront of affairs. Arriving in London as Richard's chief supporter, Henry Stafford busied himself in striking down the queen's relatives and arranged the seizure of the sons of King Edward IV, the uncrowned king, Edward V, and his brother Richard, Duke of York. He publicly denied their legitimacy and pressed the Londoners to take Richard, brother of Edward IV, already Protector, as king.

At Richard's coronation in July 1483, Henry Stafford served as great chamberlain, in addition to all the other material benefits that were showered upon him: Chief Justice of Wales, keeper of the royal castles there; and in the border counties, became Steward of the Honour of Tutbury. In addition to this, he was sole heir of the old Bohun family (by virtue of his descent from Eleanor Bohun and Thomas [of Woodstock]) and possessor of their ancient hereditary dignity as Constable of England.

The future king Richard III overthrew the queen's relatives, the Woodvilles. He claimed they were illegal successors since King Edward IV had contracted earlier to marry another woman. With strong support of the people, Richard then gained control of the government and to insure his position as king, he plotted against Prince Edward and his brother Richard, Duke of York.

Edward V, the uncrowned king of England, eldest son of King Edward IV, was created Prince of Wales in 1471. As a result of the power struggle between his paternal uncle, Richard (later King Richard III), and his maternal uncle, Anthony Woodville, both Edward and his brother Richard, Duke of York, were confined in the Tower of London after their father's death in April 1483. They were not seen again outside the Tower.

Because King Richard III had a strong motive for killing them it was supposed he had them assassinated before his own death in August 1485, but there wasn't even circumstantial evidence to prove it. It is possible, however, that they survived him and were later slain by Richard's successor, King Henry VII, to whose title they would have been a threat.

Henry Stafford was a part of royalty and an heir of fame and fortune. Yet, he was about to make a critical decision that would eventually cost him his life. Henry had supported Richard rather than the young Prince Edward all this time, until August 1483, when he suddenly changed sides, and this has never been satisfactorily explained. While a chief supporter of Richard at his coronation, he was now plotting the overthrow of the new King.

It may be that the reason he decided to overthrow the king is because he coveted the throne himself. Henry was certainly qualified to be King of England. Perhaps an agonizing sense of family wrong had overwhelmed him, when he finally realized what the Yorkists had done . It may be that he mistrusted Richard, and shrank from the murder of the princes, Edward V and his brother Richard, that which he knew was contemplated.

Whatever his reasons for sudden change it seems certain that a prisoner of Henry's at Brecon, John Morton, bishop of Ely, had much do to with securing Stafford's active support for a rising in favor of the future king, Henry VII. Apparently Bishop Morton had convinced Henry that he should overthrow King Richard, and maybe Henry did not actually consider the consequences should he fail.

These were potentially dangerous times in history. Although religion may not have been a factor in this case, the Religious Revolution (or Reformation) had begun with Wycliffe in the century before, and kings (especially in England) were divided whether or not to support the Catholic clergy.

Certainly there was another consideration, and that was Henry's descent. After all, he was of the House of Lancaster. His father and grandfather had died fighting for the House of Lancaster in the War of the Roses.

The revolt that was to overthrow King Richard was carefully planned. In October 1483, when the revolt was to begin, Henry Stafford had already secured the Welsh Army. Henry carefully began his strategy by moving east into Herefordshire, but before he and his formidable army could strike, it seems that even the elements warred against him. High floods on the Wye and Severn Rivers barred his passage, and after a few days of waiting his troops dispersed.

During the week before the revolt was to begin, King Richard III, at Lincoln, had proclaimed him traitor. After his army had fallen apart and the troops were no longer under his control, with a price on his head, Henry Stafford became a fugitive in Shropshire. He either surrendered there at Wem in Shropshire, or was captured and brought by Sheriff John Mitton to the king at Salisbury.

The illustrious and noble House of Stafford was then devastated by the dreadful approach taken by King Richard III. After forfeiting his estates, Henry Stafford was beheaded there in the market place on Sunday, November 2, 1483.

Some historians believe that perhaps Henry Stafford's actual intentions were to eventually occupy the throne, but I suppose the world will never know Henry's real reasons for taking such drastic measures to see that King Richard was overthrown. I suppose that if Henry's army had succeeded, he would have gained the throne. Two years later, Henry Tudor secured a second Welsh army to overthrow Richard, and Henry did not fail.

Henry's eldest son, Edward Stafford (1478-1521), was a powerful contender for the English throne. Edward became the (3rd) Duke of Buckingham. As stated above, Henry Tudor, of the House of Lancaster, had gathered a second army of supporters in Wales, and in 1485, at Bosworth Field, he met and defeated the army of Richard III. King Richard was sought out and killed during the battle.

When Henry Tudor came to the throne the next year as Henry VII, all lands, estates, blood, and titles were restored to Edward Stafford by the king. During Henry Tudor's reign, Edward Bagot (known in history as Edward Stafford) was widely considered as a possible successor to the English throne! When King Henry VII died, Edward was the only Duke in England!

This family of Bagots enjoyed these princely honors until 1521. Henry VII died in 1509 and his son Henry VIII succeeded him. Shortly after Henry VIII's succession, Edward was appointed to the Privy Council. He was active in politics and enjoyed all the honors his father had enjoyed before him.

But King Henry VIII was a powerful force to be reckoned with. He would later cause two of his own wives to be beheaded, and how much less concerned would he be of Edward Stafford's life? Edward, the King knew, had a right to the throne because of his descent, and Henry VIII knew this powerful man had to be crushed.

Apparently King Henry was waiting for just the right opportunity to destroy the Duke, and it seems that a certain incident arose that gave him the perfect excuse. The Duke, like his father before him, had made a serious mistake. Although unlike his father in trying to overthrow the King, he had made the mistake of bringing reproach upon the King of England. He had become a critic of the king's minister, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (although the king later dismissed Wolsey during his skirmish with the Pope about the annulment of his marriage to Catherine). Edward was arrested and brought before the King shortly after an anonymous accusation and was accused of treason against the Crown. Although the evidence was flimsy, Edward was found guilty of treason and some time later in 1521 he was sentenced to death and beheaded. His attainder was confirmed by Parliament in 1523.

It is obviously clear that the real reason for the execution of Edward was his royal descent. That, together with his high position, made him a potential treat to the king and the succession of his son. His son, Edward, succeeded King Henry VIII.

In 1521, when Edward Stafford, (3rd) Duke of Buckingham, was sentenced to death and beheaded, the splendor, princely honors, and great wealth of this family (a line of Bagots known as The Stafford Family) sank forever. Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, King of Spain, hearing of the fall of the Duke, exclaimed, in allusion to Cardinal Wolsey, who was the chief instigator of his arraignment, A butcher's dog has killed the finest Buck in England.

Edward's only son, Henry Stafford (1501-63), married in 1519 Ursula, niece of both King Edward IV and King Richard III. Henry was restored in blood and succeeded to parts of his father's possessions after Edward VI ascended to the throne, and was made Baron Stafford in a new creation in 1547. An Act of Parliament passed in 1547 declared that he and the heirs male of his body were to be taken and reputed as Lord Stafford. His son Henry Stafford (born ca. 1533) became (2nd) Baron Stafford.

Young Henry's next brother, Thomas (born ca. 1534), plotted against the marriage of Queen Mary I to Philip (later King Philip II) of Spain, a devout Catholic. So great was his opposition, he seized Scarborough Castle in Yorkshire in April of 1557 in his attempt to overthrow the Queen, apparently hoping to gain the throne himself. He claimed to be an heir to the English throne by royal descent from both his parents. He was captured by the authorities and brought before the Queen. Thomas Stafford was later tried for treason against the Crown and was executed.

Thomas' younger brother Edward (1535-1603), (3rd) Baron Stafford, was judge at the trial of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, in 1586. This is the Edward, Lord Stafford that exchanged letters with the prominent Richard Bagot in 1589. *He was apparently charged with treason, but was not convicted. His great-grandson Henry (1621-37), (5th) Baron Stafford, died unmarried, and the barony passed to his impoverished cousin and male heir Roger Stafford (ca. 1572-1640).

Roger was the only son of Richard, youngest son of (1st) Baron, Henry Stafford. He surrendered the barony to King Charles I in 1639 for £800. When he died unmarried, the male line of Staffords became extinct.

The barony was eventually invested through a direct descendant, Mary Stafford, in the Arundel branch of the Howard family. In 1637 Mary Stafford had married William [Howard], fifth son of the (14th) Earl of Arundel, in whose descendants the barony is now vested. He was created (1st) Viscount of Stafford in 1640, was later charged with treason against the Crown and beheaded. (Other lines of Stafford were granted these Arm)s:

In a book printed in 1824 compiled by Baron William Bagot, he shows a letter from Lord Edward Stafford to Richard Bagot denying that he descended from Hervey Bagot. Seemingly he imagined that Richard had conspired against him with *Higgons, but the manuscript reads: "in which, it is most likely, Richard Bagot was no further concerned than as a Magistrate receiving the depositions." Richard wrote a peaceable letter following, admitting he "spake that his (Stafford's) name was Bagot," but that he can prove his descent before the "Erle Marshall of England," if necessary.

William, above, had "the 'faire recordes,' as well as the Great Cartulary of Stafford Deeds," which omitted Bagot; but the Stafford MSS. and others verify Lord Stafford's descent. (Richard Bagot discontinued the Arms honoring the Staffords.)

*Stafford was charged by Ralph Higgons of speaking irreverent words against "the Queen's Majesty, her Highness Father, Henry VIII, the King of famous memory, and her Mother, the Queen, &c," but when the witnesses were called before the Council and examined, the matters wherewith the said Higgons had charged against his Lordship were found to be untrue. Lord Stafford was acquitted.



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