STAFFORD, Thomas (bef.1383-1425), of Baginton, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. bef. 1383, s. of Sir Thomas Stafford† (d. bef. 1398) by Alice (d.1423), da. of Sir Alfred Sulney† of Pinxton and Normanton, Derbys., sis. and coh. of Sir John Sulney and wid. of Sir Robert Pipe of Seile, Leics.; nephew and h. of Edmund Stafford, bp. of Exeter. m. (1) c.1399, Isabel (d.1417/18), o. surv. da. and h. of Sir William Bagot* of Baginton, wid. of John, e. s. of Sir Ralph Bracebridge of Yorks., s.p.; (2) by 1420, Katherine, da. of Sir John Gresley† of Colton, Staffs. and Drakelow, Derbys., 1s.
Thomas came from an important cadet branch of the family of the earls of Stafford, his grandfather being Richard, Lord Stafford† (d.1380) of Clifton, younger brother of Earl Ralph, and one of the most eminent figures in Staffordshire. He was nephew of the whole blood to Edmund Stafford, bishop of Exeter (1395-1419), and of the half-blood to Sir Nicholas Stafford* of Throwley.1 Thomas’s mother was coheir (with her sister Margery, wife of Sir Nicholas Longford) to the Sulney estates in Derbyshire and Staffordshire which, together with her dower lands at Pipe, made her a wealthy woman with an income of at least £65 a year; but he could not hope to inherit any of her property until her death, which in the event did not occur until 1423, a mere two years before his own.2 Long before then he had acquired landed holdings by other means: firstly through marriage. His alliance with Sir William Bagot’s only surviving daughter was probably arranged in the spring of 1399, when his uncle, Bishop Stafford, then chancellor of England, is known to have had personal dealings with Bagot, who at that time was among the most influential of Richard II’s councillors. Isabel was the heir to the manors of Baginton, Wolston and Draycote in Bourton on Dunsmore in Warwickshire, and to property in Cheshire, while as jointure from her previous marriage she held a manor in Yorkshire. She and Stafford obtained seisin of most of her inheritance on Bagot’s death in 1407, although Draycote may have already been sold to Henry IV, and litigation proved necessary before they finally secured land at Whitnash.3
In this way Stafford acquired sufficient property in Warwickshire to qualify him for election to Parliament for the county. But he may also have owed his return to his connexion with the earls of Warwick. His stepfather, William Spernore*, was a prominent esquire in Earl Thomas’s household, and he himself was in receipt of a retaining fee from the same lord as early as 1396-7. By Michaelmas 1408 he was enjoying an annuity of £10 by grant of Earl Richard, and this continued to be paid until his death. Something of his position is suggested by the fact that at Lent in 1421 he was at Berkeley dining with the household of the countess Elizabeth. Surprisingly, in view of his distinguished connexions, there is no evidence that Stafford ever held a public office. Nor, although early in 1420 his name appeared on the list of men from Warwickshire sent to the Council as considered best able for military service, is he known to have done any.4
By the spring of 1417 it seems to have become clear that Stafford and his first wife would not have children, for they then sold the reversion of Baginton to the earl of Warwick. Isabel, in fact, died within the year, and in 1418 Wolston was settled on Stafford alone for term of his life.5 In the following year he not only benefited from handsome bequests left him in the will of his uncle the bishop but also, and more important, he inherited the latter’s sizeable estates in five counties, including the manors of Pipe and Clifton in Staffordshire, Sibbertoft in Northamptonshire, and Campden and Aston in Gloucestershire. In his later years Stafford completed several property transactions: he sold the Bagot holdings at Wolston and Marston (although retaining an interest until his death) to Kenilworth priory, and in 1421 he formally relinquished all right to his mother’s estates. Most of the property he had inherited from his uncle he placed in the hands of trustees (including his kinsman John Stafford, bishop of Bath and Wells), who leased them back to him for life.6
Stafford died on 11 Dec. 1425, leaving as his heir a young son, Richard (who did not long survive him). His widow, Katherine, later married (Sir) William Peyto* of Chesterton, another retainer of the earl of Warwick.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
He has been distinguished from Thomas Stafford of Wappenbury, Staffs. (see VCH Staffs. vi. 249), who was occasionally associated with him as a witness to local deeds.
- 1. Reg. Stafford (Exeter) ed. Hingeston-Randolph, pp. xii-xiv, 336; CIPM, xv. 413-18; J.P. Yeatman, Feudal Hist. Derbys. v. 196.
- 2. J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 983, 985; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 201; xv. 44, 57; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 342-3; Feudal Aids, vi. 415, 501; Cat. Gresley Chs. ed. Jeayes, 80. In Feudal Aids, i. 264 Margery Longford is incorrectly described as Thomas Stafford’s sister, and the biographical details given about Alice Stafford in Staffs. Parl. Hist. i (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.) 132-3, are erroneous.
- 3. W. Dugdale, Warws. 232; VCH Warws. vi. 23, 40, 275; CPR, 1401-5, p. 468; 1408-13, p. 127; DKR, xxxvi. 18; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), no. 2444; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 74; DL28/15 f. 102.
- 4. Egerton Rolls, 8769, 8772-3; E28/97 m. 32; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. lxx. 85.
- 5. W. Bagot, Mems. Bagot Fam. app. p. vii; RP, iv. 151-3.
- 6. Reg. Chichele, ii. 156-7; C138/37/22; CFR, xiv. 306; xv. 225; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 193, 197; 1422-9, pp. 237, 280; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 388-9.
- 7. C139/22/18; C1/15/78.