STANFORD (STAMFORD, STAUNFORD), Sir Robert (1540-1607), of Perry Hall, Staffs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - 20 Mar. 1607

Family and Education

b. 31 Jan. 1540, 1st s. of Sir William Stanford† of Hadley, Mdx. and Alice, da. of John Palmer of Kentish Town, Mdx.1 educ. G. Inn 1557.2 m. 15 Nov. 1562, Anne (bur. 20 May 1602), da. of John Leveson of Wolverhampton, Staffs., 5s. (3 d.v.p.), 6da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1558;3 kntd. 23 July 1603.4 d. 20 Mar. 1607.5 sig. Robert Stanford/Ro[bert] Staunford.

Offices Held

Commr. i.p.m., Salop 1569, Staffs. 1571, 1574, 1576, 1576, 1579, 1586, 1598, Warws. 1597;6 j.p. Staffs. by 1575-96, 1602-d.;7 sheriff, Staffs. 1589-90;8 commr. to administer the oath of office to the sheriff, Staffs. 1596,9 subsidy 1600,10 charitable uses 1603, 1606, 1607;11 collector (jt.), fifteenths and tenths, Staffs. 1604,12 Privy Seal loans 1604-5.13


Stanford should be distinguished from his near neighbour, the grandson of his great-uncle Thomas Stanford† of Rowley, who was summoned before the Privy Council in 1593.14 This namesake may have been the Robert ‘Staunforde’, described as ‘late of Birmingham’, prosecuted for his part in a riot at Handsworth in 1597.15 Stanford’s family came originally from Staffordshire, but his grandfather was a London merchant. Stanford’s father, Sir William, became a judge and was elected to Parliament for Stafford in 1542 and 1545 and Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1547. He purchased nearly 2,000 acres in Staffordshire, including the manor of Handsworth and half the manor of Perry Bar, both near the Warwickshire border.16

In 1557 Stanford followed his father into Gray’s Inn, where he remained until at least 1567.17 When his father died in 1558 Stanford, then aged 18, became a royal ward, but in April 1559 his wardship was granted to his mother, who subsequently married Roger Carew†.18 In 1562 Stanford wed a daughter of John Leveson, a Wolverhampton magistrate and a former sheriff of Staffordshire.19 He seems not to have moved permanently to Staffordshire until the end of the decade, for in 1566 he described himself as a stranger to the county even though his eldest son had been baptized at Wolverhampton two years previously. Settling at Perry Hall in Handsworth,20 he subsequently consolidated his local position by major land purchases while selling property inherited from his father in Middlesex.21 By 1575 he was sufficiently well established in Staffordshire to be a member of the bench.

Stanford became closely associated with Thomas, 4th Lord Paget, a major landowner in south Staffordshire.22 Paget, a staunch Catholic, was forced to flee to France in 1583 after being implicated in the Throckmorton Plot. He was subsequently attainted and his lands were confiscated.23 Stanford himself appears to have been a conforming head of a Catholic family: his brother Ralph was a seminary priest, his wife and eldest son were recusants in the 1590s and his grandson described the family as predominantly Catholic on his admission to the English College in Rome in 1613.24 Suspicions about Stanford’s religious allegiance would explain his removal from the bench in 1596. However, the Paget interest in Staffordshire began to revive in 1597, when nearly all the family’s estates were granted to Paget’s son, William, who had been raised a Protestant.25 Perhaps in consequence, Stanford, who had continued to be appointed to minor commissions, was restored to the bench in June 1602. His rehabilitation was completed in July 1603, when he was knighted at Whitehall.

Stanford was persuaded to seek election for Staffordshire in 1604 at the prompting of his ‘especial good friend the Lord Paget’, although William Paget was not formally restored to his family’s title until later that year.26 Stanford was presumably a popular choice among conforming Catholics in Staffordshire, who were a powerful political force in the county.27 He was also acceptable to the former Devereux interest, which put up Sir Edward Littleton for the remaining seat. In 1597 Robert Devereux, the 2nd earl of Essex, had made the mistake of nominating the candidates for both seats, and this time round the late earl’s former supporters were anxious to ensure a balanced ticket. Consequently, on 5 Feb., William Browne wrote to Walter Bagot, the sheriff of Staffordshire and a former supporter of Essex, that ‘if Sir Edward Littleton and Sir Robert Stanford carry off the election [it] will be well enough liked of and is least trouble’.28

Stanford was subsequently returned, and in the 1604 session he was appointed to four committees, including one for the bill to exclude outlaws from Parliament (31 Mar.) and another for the bill against the export of ordnance (12 April). He was also appointed to the committees to consider the grievances raised by Sir Edward Montagu (23 Mar.) and to confer with the Lords about the Union (14 April).29 He is not mentioned in the records of the second session and was certainly in Staffordshire during the later part of the sitting as he attended the Easter quarter sessions at Stafford on 29 Apr. and signed a memorandum at Burton-on-Trent on 3 May.30 During the third session he was appointed to help prepare for a joint conference with the Lords regarding the bill to appoint commissioners for the Union (29 Nov. 1606) and to consider a bill to convert the manor and prebend of Cutton in Devon and to maintain a free school (23 Feb. 1607).31 However, he died intestate in London on 20 Mar. 1607 and was buried the following day at St. Dunstan-in-the-West.32 Administration of his estate was granted to his eldest son Edward on 11 May 1607.33 None of Stanford’s descendents served in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Ben Coates


  • 1. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. iii. pt. 2), p. 133.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. Wolverhampton Par. Reg. ed. H.R. Thomas and G.P. Mander (Staffs. Par. Reg. Soc. 11932), pp. 2-3; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. vi. pt. 1), pp. 279-80; Regs. Church of St. Mary Handsworth Staffs. transcribed J. Lilly (Birmingham and Midland Soc. for Genealogy and Heraldry), 41, 61, 124.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 125
  • 5. C142/299/125.
  • 6. CPR, 1566-69, p. 347; 1569-72, p. 198; 1572-5, pp. 356, 440; 1575-8, p. 41; CPR, 1585-6 (L. and I. Soc. ccxciv), 294; CPR, 1596-7 (L. and I. Soc. cccxxii), 198; C66/1489, m. 12d.
  • 7. SP12/104; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1932), pp. 190, 217; C231/1 f. 136v.
  • 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 128.
  • 9. STAC 5/L11/24.
  • 10. E179/178/256.
  • 11. C93/93/2/7, 93/2/25, 93/3/5.
  • 12. E179/176/265.
  • 13. E401/2585, f. 68
  • 14. APC, 1592-3, pp. 244, 268; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. iii, pt. 2), p. 136.
  • 15. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1932), pp. 295-6, 298-301, 339.
  • 16. WARD 7/102/30.
  • 17. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. W.K. Boyd (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1938), p. 55.
  • 18. CPR, 1558-60, p. 103.
  • 19. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. J.C. Wedgwood (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1912), pp. 284, 323.
  • 20. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. Boyd, 78; Wolverhampton Par. Reg. ed. H.R. Thomas and G.P. Mander (Staffs. Par. Reg. Soc. 11932), p. 5; Regs. Church of St. Mary Handsworth Staffs. transcribed J. Lilly (Birmingham and Midland Soc. for Genealogy and Heraldry), 29.
  • 21. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. W.K. Boyd and G. Wrottesley (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii), 277, 295, 299; CPR, 1572-5, p. 176; 1575-8, p. 336.
  • 22. Staffs. RO, D(W)1734/4/3/8; D603/K/1/8/42.
  • 23. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. A.G. Petti (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. ser. 4. ix), i.
  • 24. G. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, i. 330-1; Recusant Roll, 1592-3 ed. M.M.C. Calthrop (Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii), 303; Responsa Scholarum of English Coll. ed. A.J.P. Kenny (Cath. Rec. Soc. liv), 258-9.
  • 25. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. Petti, p. i.
  • 26. FSL, L.a.886.
  • 27. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. Petti, 77.
  • 28. FSL, L.a.296.
  • 29. CJ, i. 151b, 160b, 169b, 172a.
  • 30. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1940), pp. 302, 303, 327.
  • 31. CJ, i. 326b, 340b.
  • 32. Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 125.
  • 33. PROB 6/7, f. 75v.