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Henry Stafford, Second Duke of Buckingham, (1454-1483), was the son of Humphrey Stafford, killed at the first battle of St. Albans in 1455, and grandson of Humphrey the 1st Duke (cr. 1444), killed at Northampton in 1460, both fighting for Lancaster. The first duke, who bore the title of Earl of Buckingham in right of his mother, was the son of Edmund, 5th Earl of Stafford, and of Anne, daughter of Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward III; Henry’s mother was Margaret Beaufort, daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset,* grandson of John of Gaunt. Thus he came on both sides of the Blood Royal, and this, coupled with the vastness of his inheritance, made the young duke’s future of importance to Edward IV.
He was recognized as duke in 1465, and next year was married to Catherine Woodville, the queen’s [Elizabeth Woodville] sister. On reaching manhood he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1474, and in 1478 was high steward at the trial of George, Duke of Clarence. He had not otherwise filled any position of importance, but his fidelity might seem to have been secured by his marriage. However, after Edward’s death; Buckingham was one of the first persons worked upon by Richard, Duke of Gloucester. It was through his help that Richard obtained possession of the young king [Edward V], and he was at once rewarded with the offices of Justiciar and Chamberlain of North and South Wales, and Constable of all the royal castles in the principality and Welsh Marches. In the proceedings which led to the deposition of Edward V he took a prominent part, and on the 24th of June 1483 he urged the citizens at the Guildhall to take Richard as king, in a speech of much eloquence, “for he was neither unlearned and of nature marvellously well spoken” (Sir Thomas More).
At Richard’s coronation he served as chamberlain, and immediately afterwards was made Constable of England and confirmed in his powers in Wales. Richard might well have believed that the duke’s support was secured. But early in August Buckingham withdrew from the court to Brecon. He may have thought that he deserved an even greater reward, or possibly had dreams of establishing his own claims to the crown. At all events, at Brecon he fell somewhat easily under the influence of his prisoner, John Morton, who induced him to give his support to his cousin Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. A widespread plot was soon formed, but Richard had early warning, and on the 15th of October, issued a proclamation against Buckingham. Buckingham, as arranged, prepared to enter England with a large force of Welshmen. His advance was stopped by an extraordinary flood on the Severn, his army melted away without striking a blow, and he himself took refuge with a follower, Ralph Bannister, at Lacon Hall, near Wem. The man betrayed him for a large reward, and on the 1st of November, Buckingham was brought to the king at Salisbury. Richard refused to see him, and after a summary trial had him executed next day (2nd of November 1483), though it was a Sunday.
Buckingham’s eldest son, Edward Stafford (1478-1521), eventually succeeded him as 3rd Duke, the attainder being removed in 1485; the second son, Henry, was afterwards Earl of Wiltshire. The 3rd Duke played an important part as Lord High Constable at the opening of the reign of Henry VIII, and is introduced into Shakespeare’s play of that king, but he fell through his opposition to Wolsey, and in 1521 was condemned for treason and executed (17th of May); the title was then forfeited with his attainder, his only son Henry (1501-1563), who in his father’s lifetime was styled Earl of Stafford, being, however, given back his estates in 1522, and in 1547 restored in blood by parliament with the title of Baron Stafford, which became extinct in this line with Roger, 5th Baron, in 1640. In that year the barony of Stafford was granted to William Howard (1614-1680), who after two months was created Viscount Stafford; he was beheaded in 1680, and his son was created Earl of Stafford in 1688, a title which became extinct in 1762; but in 1825 the descent to the barony of 1640 was established, to the satisfaction of the House of Lords, in the person of Sir G. W. Jerningham, in whose family it then continued
Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG (4 September 1455 – 2 November 1483) played a major role in King Richard III’s rise and fall. He is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance (and presumed murder) of the Princes in the Tower. Buckingham was related to the royal family of England in many different ways, but his connections were all through daughters of younger sons. His chances of inheriting the throne would have seemed remote, but he played the role of a ‘kingmaker’ for Richard III and, unsuccessfully, for Henry VII
Buckingham was the son of Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford, and Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford. Three of his four grandparents were descended from Edward III of England:
Buckingham’s paternal grandfather was Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was the son of Anne of Gloucester, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Edward III.
Buckingham’s paternal grandmother was Lady Anne Neville, a daughter of Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, while Buckingham’s maternal grandfather was Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, the youngest son of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset. John and Joan Beaufort were illegitimate children of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, (the third son of Edward III) and Katherine Swynford. (They were later legitimized by John of Gaunt but were not in the direct line and could not claim the throne).
Thus, Buckingham was closely related to the royal families of England and Scotland. Five of his near relations became King of England – his (Lancaster) second cousin, once removed Henry VI, his (Beaufort/Neville) first cousins, once removed Edward IV and Richard III, his second cousin Edward V, and his (Beaufort/Holland) second cousin, once removed Henry VII – while two relations became Queen consorts of England: his (Beauchamp) first cousin, once removed (and Beaufort/Neville second cousin) Lady Anne Neville and his (Beaufort/Neville) second cousin, Elizabeth of York. His (Beaufort/Holland) first cousin, once removed was James II of Scotland.
His father, Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford, supported the House of Lancaster in the initial phase of the Wars of the Roses. He died in 1458 of wounds after First Battle of St Albans, and his paternal grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, another leading Lancastrian, was killed at the Battle of Northampton (10 July 1460). After his grandfather’s death, Henry was recognized as Duke of Buckingham. The new Duke eventually became a ward of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, consort of Edward IV of England.
Sometime before the Queen’s coronation in May 1465 he was married to her sister Catherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford (b.1458). Both parties were children at the time; they were carried on squires’ shoulders at the coronation ceremony and were reared in the queen’s household together. According to Dominic Mancini, Buckingham resented his wife and the other Woodvilles because of his marriage to a woman of a lower status.
In 1483, a conspiracy arose among a number of disaffected gentry, supporters of Edward IV. They originally planned to depose Richard III and place Edward V back on the throne. When rumours arose that Edward and his brother (the Princes in the Tower) were dead, Buckingham intervened, proposing instead that Henry Tudor return from exile, take the throne and marry Elizabeth of York. For his part, Buckingham would raise a substantial force from his estates in Wales and the Marches.
Richard eventually put down the rebellion; Henry’s ships ran into a storm and had to go back to Brittany, and Buckingham’s army was greatly troubled by the same storm and deserted when Richard’s forces came against them. Buckingham tried to escape in disguise but was turned in for the bounty Richard had put on his head, and he was convicted of treason and beheaded in Salisbury on 2 November. A monument in nearby Britford Church has been identified as his. Following Buckingham’s execution, his widow, Catherine, married Jasper Tudor.
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Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke Buckingham, 7th Earl of Stafford, 8th Lord Stafford (1455 – 1483)
Anne Stafford ( – 1544)
Daughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke Buckingham, 7th Earl of Stafford, 8th Lord Stafford
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