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William Stafford KB (1512 - 1556)

Sir William "Lord Rochford" Stafford KB aka of Chebsey
Born in Blatherwycke, Northamptonshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1534 (to 19 Jul 1543) [location unknown]
Husband of — married 1545 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Geneva, Switzerlandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Nov 2008 | Last significant change: 19 Mar 2021
00:06: Bree Ogle posted a comment on the page for William Stafford KB (1512-1556) [Thank Bree for this]
This page has been accessed 6,652 times.

D i s a m b i g u a t i o n

  • William Stafford of Bradfield, Berkshire (b. bef. 1482/3) m. Anne, dau. of John Langford.



Sir William Stafford, K.B. of Chebsey, Staffs.[1] & Rochford, Essex (wife's right) and London,[2][3] (b. c. 1512),[4] was called "Stafford" in England ... but later known as "Lord Rochford," abroad.

He was the second son of:

In c. 1517 his brother Humphrey, inherited the manors of Blatherwycke & Dodford manors in Hampshire from their uncle Thomas Stafford, Esq.[5]

Marriage to Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn (c. 1500 – 19 Jul 1543)

Stafford was her second husband.
Hen. VIII arranged
her first marriage to William Carey.

In 1534, at 22 years old, he secretly married Mary Boleyn, b. 1499, the widowed sister of newly-crowned Queen Anne Boleyn (m. 1533 to King Henry VIII).

Mary was apparently "heavy with child" and this forced a secret marriage. It has been said that Queen Anne was very unhappy with their union and banished her sister from court temporarily.

In "The Six Wives of Henry VIII,'" by Alison Weir, William is said to have had "no fortune and no [family] standing" (not entirely true as his parents were definitely of the gentry but he was not from a titled family).[6] However, the author elaborates in "Mary Boleyn," (2011), that Henry VIII was suspicious of anyone with the Stafford name, which he saw a threat to his throne. It was also the case that William himself, a was landless soldier and not a member of the peerage.


William Stafford and Mary Boleyn are the parents of:


Despite Queen Anne's subsequent fall from grace and execution in 1536, "Stafford," as he was always known, remained a close courtier to the King. In 1540 he was listed as a "Gentleman Pensioner" in the King's household. In 1541 he was listed as an "Esquire to the Body" of King Henry VIII.

Debt, Fleet Prison and War

Apparently, William was heavily in debt before c. 1541.[8] According to Weir (2011), his wife also had financial issues and did not take control of the inheritance from her parents or her late brother's wife Jane Parker, until 15 May 1543. As a consequence, Mary owned Rochford Hall in Essex for a mere four days.[9]

Mary Boleyn died 19 July 1543.[9] That same year William briefly spent time in Fleet Prison.[7] According to Gordon (2014), he was locked up in April ... before his first wife died.[8] He was charged with 'eating meat on a Good Friday.'[9]

William went on to fight in France during c. 1544; and again in Scotland in c. 1545.[7]

Marriage to Dorothy Stafford

Dorothy Stafford
Lady of the Bedchamber to Eliz. I,
grandau. of last Duke of Buckingham.

Stafford remarried two years before Edward VI (1547-53) was enthroned as a Protestant child king.

Dorothy Stafford (b. c. 1526 - d. 22 Dec 1602), future "Mistress of the Robes" to Elizabeth I, became his second wife c. 1545.[7]

She was the daughter of Henry of Penshurst, Kent, who was restored as Baron Stafford. He was also the only son of Edward Stafford, third and last Duke of Buckingham.[10]

Edward Stafford (1478 – 1521)
3rd Duke of Buckingham
executed by Hen. VIII.


The marriage, however, was not financially stable,[8] ... and as Protestants, the family relocated abroad c. 1553, when the staunch Catholic Mary I (1553-8) came to power.[2] By March 1554, the Staffords were living in Geneva, where William was called, Lord Rochford.[7]


William and Dorothy had 5 children but not all them were born in England.

  • 1. Sir Edward of Grafton, Staffs. of Grafton, Staffs. & of Canon Row, Westminster (b. c. 1552 - d. 05 Feb 1605; bur. 05 Feb St. Margaret's, Westminster), ambassador to France.[11][12][13][14]
m.1 Robserta Chapman, dau. of Alexander Chapman of Rainthorpe Hall in Norfolk.[13]
m.2 (29 Nov 1579) Douglas Sheffield nee Howard (b. 1542/3 - d. 1608 Westminster), dau. of William Howard and Margaret Gamage.[13][15]
  • 2. William "the conspirator" (b. 01 Mar 1553/4 Rochford, Essex - d. 16 Nov 1612) , prisoner of The Tower 1558-93 for trying to assassinate Elizabeth I; resided at Antingham, Norfolk from 1593.[12][16]
m. (1593) Anne Gryme,[12] dau. of Thomas Gryme of Antingham, Norfolk.
  • 3. Sir John of Marlwood, Glouc. (bp. 4 Jan 1556 Geneva, Switzerland - dsp. 28 Sep 1624; bur. 30 Dec Thornbury, Glouc).[17]
m. Susannah Stonehouse (dsp; bur. 28 Dec 1621 Thornbury, Glouc), dau. of George Stonehouse of Little Peckham, Kent & Radley, Berks. and Elizabeth Gibson;[18] widow of John Whynniard, Groom of the Wardrobe to Eliz. I & Jas I.[19][20]
  • Elizabeth (b. c. 1550/6 at/of Blatherwick, Hants. - d. 06 Feb 1599).[12][21][22][23]
m.1 (c. 1570) Sir Wm. Drury.[21]
m.2 Sir John Scott.[24]
  • Ursula (living 1603)[22]
m. Richard Drake, esq. of Esher, Surrey (b. c. 1535 - d. 11 Jul 1603; bur. Esher Church), son of John Drake of Ash, Devon and Amy, dau. of Sir Grenville Stowe.[25]


John Calvin, Protestant Reformer
godfather of Sir John of Marlwood,
younger son of William &second wife Dorothy.

Tragically, Sir William died 05 May 1556 while living in Geneva, Switzerland,[12] where son Sir John of Marlwood was born.[2][17]

Sir John's godfather was the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. In the wake of William's death, Calvin took custody of the young John.[7][17]

At the same time, Calvin also tried to make Dorothy and her children stay abroad. So Dorothy did not make it back to England until January 1559.[17] She went on to serve Elizabeth I (1558-1603) as Lady of the Bedchamber, and died six months after the Tudor queen on 22 September 1603.[12]

Epiphanius Evesham (fl. 1570 - 1623) is believed to have sculpted the tomb of Lady Dorothy Stafford at St. Margarets in Westminster, where she is buried.[12][26]


  • bros Humphrey suc. >> //** STAFFORD OF BLATHERWICK, HANTS.**//[27][11]


  1. Chebsey came to Wm. from his bros. Humphrey
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Sir William Stafford," (Bindoff, 1982 via HOP).[1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Plantagenet Ancestry, 2011, p. 482.[2]
  4. b. 1512 according to research, at the Stafford family hall in Blatherwycke.
  5. Humphrey inherited the manors of Blatherwycke and Dodford, Hants. from his uncle, Thomas Stafford, esq. in 1517.[3][4]
  6. "Halthed Genealogy - William Stafford," citing: Weir, A. (n.d.) The Six Wives of Henry VIII. LINK[citation needed]
    Weir, A. (n.d.). Mary Boleyn (Stafford family pedigree):
    • suggests 1512 as likely birth date of Sir William Stafford, 2nd husband of Mary Boleyn.
    Editor: Canning-229 16:18, 28 Dec 2014 (EST)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Plantagenet Ancestry, 2011, p. 483.[5]
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Gordon, D. (2014). Secret History of Southend-on-Sea. The History Press. Google Books.
    In debt c. 1541 & sent to Fleet prison c. 1543, (Constable, A. (1970). The Victoria History of the County of Stafford, 3, p. 239).[6]
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Weir, A. (2011). Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, pp. 250. Random House. Google Books.
  10. Nichols, J.G. (1846). The Topographer and Genealogist, 1, pp. 142. London: J. Bowyer Nichols & Son. Google Books.
  11. 11.0 11.1 for Stafford family branches see: Chisolm, H. "Stafford (family,) in The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 25-26, pp. 756. NY. Google Books.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 "Lady Dorothy Stafford (d. 22 Sep 1604; bur. St. Margaret's Church." Westminster Abbey. Web.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Thrush, A. & Ferris, J.P. (2010). STAFFORD, Sir Edward (c.1552-1605), of Cannon Row, Westminster. HOP. Web.
  14. According to Pollard (1898), "the Staffords of Grafton were a branch of the same family as the dukes of Buckingham and barons Stafford," (Pollard, A.F. (1898). Stafford, Edward (1552?-1605) (DNB00). Web. (citing Visitations of Staffordshire, Harl. MSS. 6128 ff. 89–91, and 1415 f. 109).
    • "Elizabeth Stafford." Wikipedia v. 21:40, 30 June 2018 -- asserts Sr William & Dorothy were second cousins but the citation isn't finished and only says "Holmes 2004."[7]
    • As of 12 Dec 2018 Wikitree Relationship Finder reports that William Stafford and second wife Dorothy Stafford are third cousins once removed and directly descend from Richard Vydeville, paternal grandfather of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort to Edward IV of York.
  15. Edward & Douglas had no surviving issue, (Lewis, 2013, citing various works by Douglas Richardson.[[8]
    1 son & 1 dau, (Thrush & Ferris, 2010).[9]
  16. Stafford, William (1554-1612) (DNB00). Web.
    Wm. Stafford was incarcerated in the Tower (1588-93) for conspiring to assassinate Elizabeth I. After his release, he married Anne Grime.
    see also: Wikipedia: William Stafford (conspirator)CAUTION
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 "Sir John," (Bindoff, 1982 via HOP).[10]
  18. Elizabeth Gibson is the first wife of George Stonehouse of Little Peckham, Kent & Radley, Berks., (see Wynyard pedigree in Miscellanea genealogica, 2, p. 270).[11]
  19. Nichols, 1846, p. 142.[12]
  20. Lady Dame Susan Stafford (bur. 28 Dec 1621), wife of Sir John Stafford, Kt.," in Tyndale extracts from parish registers: Thornbury, Gloucestershire. Miscellanea Genealogica, 1, p. 244.[13]
  21. 21.0 21.1 Lewis, M. (2010, March 11). "Elizabeth Stafford #132211, b. circa 1550[citation needed]," ORTNCA. Web. citing:
    • Cokayne (n.d.). Complete Peerage;
    • History of the Family of Drury, p. 100-1;
    • Family Group Sheets at FHA, SLC
    Wikipedia: Elizabeth Stafford (b. c. 1556 England(?)[citation needed] - d. 06 Feb 1599) -- "Elizabeth Stafford." Wikipedia v. 21:40, 30 Jun 2018).[14]
  22. 22.0 22.1 Westminster Abbey states that Elizabeth (wife of William Drury) was the only dau. of Dorothy Stafford, "to reach maturity."[15] Hasler (1981) and Richardson (2011) dispute this. Presumably ... she is the widow who inherited property from Drake and is the mother of Francis (see Ursula's bio for more).
    Ursula b: 1547 in Bobbing Court, Bobbing, Kent.[citation needed]
  23. Elizabeth b: 1557 Bobbing Court, Bobbing, Kent.[citation needed] ... note: family resided in Geneva at this times so if DOB 1557, then birth locale is Geneva, Switzerland.
  24. "Eliz Stafford," in Wikipedia citing Richardson (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry.[16]
  25. Hasler, P.W. (1981). Drake, Richard (1535-1603), of Esher Place, Surr. HOP. Web.
    Lipscomb, G. (1847). Pedigree of Drake of Amersham. The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham, 3, pp. 154. Google Books.
    Wikipedia: Richard Drake#Marriage and issue (1535 – 11 Jul 1603)]]
  26. see also: Richardson, D. (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd ed., I, p. 121; ODNB articles on Mary Boleyn and Dorothy Stafford; Plantaget Ancestry, 2011 via Google Books; Wikipedia: Epiphanius Evesham
  27. property descent is not clear cut for Wm. ... see Weir, 2011, etc.


  • Bindoff, S.T. (1982). Stafford, Sir William (by 1512-56), of Chebsey, Staffs., Rochford, Essex and London. HOP. Web.
  • Lewis, M. (2014, February 17). Dorothy Stafford #90500, b. circa 1526, d. 22 Sep 1604, citing: various works by Douglas Richardson. ORTNCA. Web.
  • Lewis, M. (2014, February17). "Sir William Stafford, Burgess of Hastings, Standard Bearer #90509, b. circa 1500, d. 5 May 1556," citing various works by Douglas Richardson. ORTNCA. Web.
  • Richardson, D. (2011). "William Carey," in Plantagenet Ancestry, 2nd ed., pp. 482-483. Google Books.
  • Richardson, D. (2013). Royal Ancestry, II:57, V:24
  • Weir, A. (2011). Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, pp. 214, 250. Random House. Google Books.

See also...

  • Hanson, M. (2015, January 31). Mary Boleyn: Biography, portrait, facts & information. Web.
  • "Mary Boleyn (Bullyn)." LDS Ancestral File, CD v 4.19, England; Poulsbo CA FHC, searched 16 Jun 1999.
    • AFN:9FXF-VC b 1504 of Chilton Folist, Wilts, d/o Thomas Boleyn Earl of Wiltshire AFN:9FXF-T6 and Elizabeth Howard Ctess of Wilts AFN: 9FXF-88; spouse: (1) William Carey (Cary) AFN:9FXX-OX, (2) WM STAFFORD [Sir] AFN:9FXW-9C, b Abt 1500 Of Blatherwick, Hants m.2 abt 1545 Dorothy Stafford AFN:9224-NM

CONFLICT: There are three generations missing; they are: [1] Humphrey Stafford I, b 1384, Elizabeth Burdet; [2] Humphrey Stafford II, b abt 1400, d 1449, m Eleanor Aylesbury; [3] Humphrey Stafford III, b abt 1430, d 1486, m Katherine Frey"


  • 11 Nov. 2008 Stafford-495. 23 Aug 2011 [start]. Stafford-1268 into Stafford-3 15 Mar 2014. Stafford-603 into Stafford-3 15 May 2014. Stafford-1715 into Stafford-3 31 Oct 2014.

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Comments: 6

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I think I resolved the 'CONFlICT' note ... line needs a spot-check then remove the old note.
posted by Bree Ogle
12th great grandfather
Blatherwyke is in Northants (Northamptonshire) not in Hants (Hampshire).
posted by C. Mackinnon
to do:
  • add citation for Weir ... prob. '99 and finish inline cit. [WIP] ...

btw ... IMO, Weir did a great bio [just] on Mary Boleyn, but it def paints the life of the king's mistress as rather drab. It also raised more questions around the timing of birth of the notorious sisters. It has always been assumed Anne was the younger dau. but by the time Weir is done ... the reader is left in doubt. The same can be said for whether or not Stafford wound up raising a fitzroy. I think the big kicker is not so much what Eliz I. said ... but the attn. she paid through her actions (as opposed to speaking about her maternal roots in public).

  • project tag? ... preference? -- Weir (2011) states Wm. Stafford was not a member of the peerage, even after marrying Dorothy. ... so prob. England project. (note that Richardson, 2011 ... asserts that Wm. was a K.B.
  • Lewis and Wikipedia conflict on dau. Eliz. DOB -- 1550 vs. 1556... and both sites imply or assert she was b. in England. If she was b. in England ... then most likely she was b. bef. 1553/4 because the family was already abroad in c. 1553 possibly NS but maybe not. And not to forget ... Liz' dad died in Switzerland during 1556.
  • switch to MLA
  • property descent
posted by Bree Ogle
Stafford-348 and Stafford-3 appear to represent the same person because: they are the same
posted by Mike Davies

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Categories: Prisoners of the Fleet Prison