Sir William Stafford

Sir William Stafford

Sir William Stafford, Mary Boleyn’s second husband. They had one child – Anne, named after her Aunt, Queen Anne Boleyn.
Stafford was the second son of Sir Humphrey Stafford (d. 22 September 1545) of Cottered and Rushden, Hertfordshire, by his first wife, Margaret Fogge, daughter of Sir John Fogge of Ashford, Kent. His family was distantly related to the mighty Staffords who controlled the dukedom of Buckingham and the earldom of Wiltshire until 1521. Nonetheless, William Stafford was a commoner, and only a second son, and thus served Henry VIII as a soldier.

In 1532, Stafford was listed as one of the two hundred people who accompanied Henry VIII to France. The purpose of the journey was for Henry and his fiancée, Anne Boleyn, to meet with Francis I so that he might show his public support and approval for the annulment of Henry’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Among the other travellers was Anne Boleyn’s sister, Mary, the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn, who was by then the Earl of both Wiltshire and Ormonde. With her connections, Mary had excellent marriage prospects.[5] Nonetheless, Mary and Stafford married in secret in 1534. When the marriage was discovered after Mary became pregnant, the couple were banished from court.

The couple initially lived at Chebsey in Staffordshire, but later moved to the Boleyn family home, Rochford Hall at Rochford, in Essex. They lived in relative obscurity until Mary died in 1543, after which Stafford served in Scotland. He was knighted there in 1545 – during the reign of Henry VIII – and, two years later, became an MP for Hastings. Also in 1545, Stafford remarried, this time to his second cousin, Dorothy Stafford, the youngest daughter of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and Ursula Pole (d. 1570).

During the reign of Mary I, Stafford and his family fled to Geneva. He died there on 5 May 1556, not living to see the reign of his first wife’s niece, Elizabeth I, or to see his wife, children, and stepchildren become influential courtiers in Elizabeth’s court.

In 1534, William Stafford secretly wed, as her second husband, Mary Boleyn (c. 1499 – 1543), sister of King Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Mary Boleyn is said to have been pregnant at the time of her marriage to Sir William Stafford; however if there were children of the marriage, nothing further is known of them.

Stafford married secondly, in 1545, Dorothy Stafford (d. 22 September 1604), daughter of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford, and Ursula Pole, by whom he had three sons and three daughters: