Henry STAFFORD

(3rd E. Wiltshire)

Born: 1479, Brecknock Castle, Brecknockshire, Wales

Died: 6 Apr 1523

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: Henry STAFFORD (2 D. Buckingham)

Mother: Catherine WOODVILLE (D. Buckingham/D. Bedford)

Married: Margaret GREY ABT 1502

Married: Cecily BONVILLE (M. Dorset) (b. 30 Jun 1460 - d. 12 May 1529) (dau. of William Bonville, B. Harrington and Catherine Neville) (w. of Thomas Grey, 1 M. Dorset) (See her Biography) 22 Nov 1503


Henry, born in Brecknock Castle, Wales, was the younger son of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and of Catherine Woodville, and thus a nephew of King Edward IV of England. His father was attainted and executed for rebelling against King Richard III in 1483, when Stafford was 4. Two years later, when King Henry VII ascended the throne, the attainder was reversed and the wardship of Henry, along with his brother Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was given to the King's mother, the Countess of Richmond and Derby. A reason for the reverse of the attainder may be that the brothers were first cousins of Queen Elizabeth.

Henry was dependent on his brother for funding and spent time assisting in managing the Stafford estates. He headed up a survey of properties in the Welsh Marches, Thornbury and Bedminster in 1500, audited the estates in Gloucestershire in 1502. He was steward of the Welsh Lordships of Newport, Brecon, Caus, Hay and Huntingdon between 1500 and 1521.

In Apr 1505 he was made a Knight of the Garter and served in court with Henry VII but on the accession of Henry VIII he was imprisoned in the tower on suspicion of treason, possibly due to his brother's claim to the throne. However, he was soon released, and on 27 Jan 1510 he was created Earl of Wiltshire. An earlier creation of the earldom had been held by his great-uncle and cousin, but had gone extinct a decade before. 

Stafford was a close friend of the King, and Henry VIII was involved around this time with Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon, Stafford's sister. Henry became a favourite of the King. He went with Henry VIII to France in 1513, captaining 651 men, was part of the entourage when Thomas Wolsey was made Cardinal on 18 Nov 1515 and was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. Despite being under suspicion in the same plot that led to the execution of his brother the Duke of Buckingham, Henry survived, apparently retaining the King's favour.

Some sources says he first married Margaret Grey, Countess of Wiltshire, the widow of the previous Earl. Margaret, who had been married with her cousin Edward Stafford, was daughter of Edward Grey, 1 V. Lisle, and cousin of Thomas Grey, 1 M. of Dorset, of whom Cecily Bonville was a widow when she married Henry Stafford, nineteen years her junior. This  second marriage required a papal dispensation and the Kings license, costing 1000 according to one source and 2000 according to another. It is thought that financial considerations were behind the match, as she was about nineteen years older and had had fifteen children from her first marriage. Even so, he owed 4407 4s to the crown by 1521.

Henry died without children on 6 Apr 1523. The earldom expired on his death. After the death of his wife, the title was given to Thomas Boleyn, whose daughter Anne was betrothed to Henry VIII.

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