The Tudor Society

April 6 – Henry Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire

On this day in Tudor history, 6th April 1523, in the reign of King Henry VIII, nobleman and courtier Henry Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire, died at the age of about 44.

Stafford died without issue so his earldom became extinct until 1529 when Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne Boleyn, was made Earl of Wiltshire.

Here are a few facts about Henry Stafford…

  • Stafford was the second son of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville.
  • Stafford’s mother was the daughter of Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, and his wife, Jaquetta of Luxembourg, and his father, the Duke of Buckingham, was executed on 2nd November 1483 without trial after leading a rebellion, Buckingham’s Rebellion against King Richard III.
  • In 1485, following the accession of King Henry VII, Stafford and his older brother, Edward, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, were made wards of Lady Margaret Beaufort, the king’s mother.
  • Stafford went on to work for his brother as a councillor and manager of his estates.

  • In around 1504/1505, Stafford married Cicely or Cecily Grey, widow of Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, and daughter and heir of William Bonville, Lord Harington. She was 19 years his senior, and had 15 children from her first marriage, but it was a good match for Stafford because she was wealthy and he had been financially dependent on his brother.
  • In April 1505, he became a Knight of the Garter.
  • Following the death of Henry VII and the accession of Henry VIII in April 1509, Stafford was temporarily imprisoned in the Tower of London accused of treason, but probably because of his brother’s claim to the throne, his Plantagenet blood.
  • Following his release, Stafford was made Earl of Wiltshire in January 1510 and became one of the young king’s favourites.
  • In 1513, he accompanied the king on his French campaign and also accompanied him to the 1520 Field of Cloth of Gold meeting with Francis I. By which time, he’d been appointed to the privy council.
  • On 17th May 1521, Stafford’s brother, the Duke of Buckingham, was executed as a traitor, but Stafford was able to retain the king’s favour, and served him again in France in 1522.
  • He died a natural death on 6th April 1523.

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April 6 – Henry Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire