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 fianc?e,¬†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 Рduring the reign of Henry VIII Рand, 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 ‚Äď 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:

  • Elizabeth Stafford¬†(1546 ‚Äď 6 February 1599), who married firstly,¬†Sir William Drury¬†(1550‚Äď1590), by whom she had issue. She married secondly¬†Sir John Scott.
  • Sir Edward Stafford¬†(1552‚Äď1604) of¬†Grafton, who married firstly, Roberta Chapman (d. 1578), the daughter of Alexander Chapman of¬†Rainthorpe Hall, Norfolk, by whom he had a son and two daughters, and secondly, on 29 November 1597,¬†Douglas Sheffield¬†(1547‚Äď1608), daughter of¬†William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham, and sister of¬†Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham.
  • Ursula Stafford (b. 1553), who married¬†Richard Drake¬†(d. 11 July 1603)¬†of¬†Esher, Surrey,¬†equerry¬†to¬†Elizabeth I, third son of John Drake (d. 1558), esquire, of¬†Ash¬†in the parish of¬†Musbury, Devonshire, and brother of¬†Bernard Drake, by whom she had a son, Francis Drake (d.¬†1633).
  • William Stafford¬†(1554‚Äď1612), conspirator, who about 1593 married Anne Gryme (d. 1612), daughter of Thomas Gryme of¬†Antingham, Norfolk, by whom he had a daughter, Dorothy Stafford, and a son,¬†William Stafford¬†(1593‚Äď1684).
  • Sir John Stafford of Marlwood Park (January 1556 ‚Äď 28 September 1624),¬†Thornbury, Gloucestershire, who married firstly, Bridget Clopton (d. March 1574), the daughter of William Clopton of¬†Kentwell Hall, by whom he had a son,¬†and secondly, on 29 January 1580, Millicent Gresham (buried 24 December 1602), the daughter of Edmund Gresham (buried 31 August 1586) and Joan Hynde, by whom he had no issue.
  • Dorothy Stafford, who likely died in infancy.