The Staffords of Eyam

by C. E. B. BOWLES, M.A.

This article was published originally in the Derbyshire Archaeological Society Journal, vol. 30, 1908; pp261-295.

This transcription by Rosemary Lockie © 2000-1


VI. - JOHN DE STAFFORD, of Eyam. In these terms his name appears as the first witness to an entail[22] deed of 28 Edward III. (1354), and then follow three other deeds which bear his name[23] as an attesting witness, the last of which is dated 43 Edward III. (1369). His marriage with Dionysia, daughter and the eventual heiress of William de Lynford, brought into the family large estates. He must have married about the year 1364, for a grant dated at Lynford[24] 38 Edward III. (1364) was executed by Sir Laurence de Lynford giving “to William Lynford, his son, and to John de Stafford, his kinsman, all his lands, with tenements, woods, lead mines, heriots, turbary, etc., in Moniash, Chelmorton, and Calver, all in co. Derby; lands in Magna Lynford and Thornburgh in co. Bucks.; and lands in Estharnam,[25] in co. Wilts.” These lands eventually passed into the possession or the Stafford family, which till then had owned, so far as there is documentary evidence, few possessions [Page 269] outside the parish of Eyam. The importance of this deed by which they passed is probably the reason for the writer possessing duplicates of the deed - two are on parchment and one is on paper.

With respect to the lands, those mentioned as being in the co. of Derby, which can be traced in the Stafford family for the next two centuries, were charged with the dowry of Dionysia's mother, for about this time, though whether later or earlier it is hard to say, an undated conveyance was executed[26] by Nicholas de Cotterell and Roger de Gaddesby to Laurence de Lynford and Alice, his wife and their heirs of the lands in Moneyash, Chelmorton, Hassop, Calver, and Rowlsey, which lands, Marjery, late wife to William de Lynford, had held of her dowry.

Several grants of land in Eyam and the neighbourhood exist, which were made to John de Stafford. E.g.,“In 44 Edward III. (1370), Johanna and Matilda, the daughters of Richard del Dale of Eyam in their widowhood granted to John de Stafford land in Eyam lying between the high road and the village brook opposite to the messuage of said John de Stafford on the other side of the road”.[27]

In the forty-sixth year of Edward III. (1372) a lease was granted by “Nycholas son of John de Stafford to John de Stafford his father of a messuage and ten acres of land in Great Hucklow which Nycholas had of the demyse of Thomas the son of John L'Archer, who had it of the demyse of Thomas the son of Richard”.[28]

In 11 Richard II. (1388), a release of land in Eyam was made to him as John de Stafford sen., by Margery, late wife of John, son of Nicholas de Haddon, of land which she had inherited from her brother, Henry Gregory.[29]

The same date is affixed to a grant by Robert de Wardelow, of Bakewell, to John de Stafford and his heirs of lands in [Page 270] Highlow, which had descended to him after the death of John L'Archer of Highlow, lately in the tenure of John de Billeston.[30]

These lands in Highlow, which township adjoins that of Eyam, were apparently afterwards held by Richard, the son of John de Stafford, as will be seen. The 16th year of Richard II. (1393), is the date of a grant[31] from John de Stafford, of Eyam, and Thomas Amot, of Midleton, to John Rankell, chaplain, of two messuages, and nine acres and a half of land in Eyam.

In 19 Richard II. (1395), John, or possibly his eldest son, attested a grant of lands in Calver and Middleton Cliff by Godfrey de Roland to Thomas and Richard Gumfray, but as there is no proof of the date of his death, it may have been that this deed was attested,[32] as indeed many others prior to it, by his son, for as in this case, where father and son bore the same Christian name, it is not easy to determine the identity of the individual. Both were certainly alive in 1338, but after that date it is not clear as to whether “John de Stafford” refers to the elder or younger. Rhodes in his Peak Scenery, declares that “In the reign of Richard II., a period when the rights of the subject were but inaccurately defined and his liberty but imperfectly secured by law, a violent and outrageous assault was made on one of the Staffords, who was at that time Lord of the Manor of Eyam. Attacked by an armed force, he was a forcibly carried away from his home to the residence of his enemy, and there detained close prisoner until he was ransomed by his friends”. No authority is given, and it is hard to say whence Rhodes obtained his information. If it be true, it must have been either John de Stafford, sen., or his son, who had this unpleasant experience. It may be remarked, however, that the Staffords never at any time owned the manner of Eyam.

By his marriage with Dionysia de Lynford, John de Stafford, sen., had this issue;

  1. John de Stafford, his successor (of whom presently, p. 272). [Page 271]
  2. Nicholas, of whom mention is first made in “a grant dated at Tideswell,[33] 36 Edward III. (1362), of a messuage and twelve acres in Hucklow by Thomas, son of John L'Archer, to Nicholas, son of John de Stafford”. Nothing more is known about him except that he leased land at Hucklow to his father ten years later, noted on page 269. As his name is not mentioned in the entail deed quoted below, it would almost seem that he was dead in 1391.
  3. Richard. In 14 Richard II. (1391),[34] there is a grant by Thomas Gomfray, parson of the Church at Dronfield, and John Rankell, chaplain to John de Stafford, of Eyam, settling all lands and tenements, etc., which they held “of the gift and feoffment of Isabella, sister of John de Billeston, of Bakewell, on John de Stafford during his life, with remainder to Richard, his son, and his heirs, with remainder to John de Stafford, brother to the said Richard, and then to the rightful heirs of the above John de Stafford”.

But the earliest mention of Richard is in a grant dated at Bakewell, 3 Richard II. (1379),[34] of lands near Bakewell, by Thomas Bilstone to Richard Stafford, son of John Stafford. In 14 Richard II. (1390),[34] he granted a release to John Redsor, parson of the church at Eyam, and John Rankell, chaplain, of all his rights in Youlgrave. By a deed dated at Tideswell 19 Richard II. (1395),[34] John Cobyn granted to him as “Richard de Stafford son of John de Stafford”, and his heirs certain messuages and lands in Tideswell. A confirmation of a grant of lands at Bakewell to “John de Stafford, of Eyam, and Richard, his son, and to John, brother to Richard”, is dated 20 Richard II. (1396).[34]

Three years later, a messuage and two bovates of land, and a toft lying near Leyhamsty, at Eyam, were granted to him by William Kalale, of Normanton, and Randolph de Glapwell. This is dated at Eyam 23 Richard II. (1399).[35]

[Page 272] In 3 Henry IV. (1401)[36] one “Richard de Stafford, of Highlow”, granted land to John Milnes, of Tideswell - and the same man attested a deed of 1 Henry IV. Taking into consideration the deed quoted before, which proved that in 11 Richard II. (1388)[36] John de Stafford, his father, had from Robt. de Wardelow, a grant of land in Highlow, it may be presumed that this man is identical with his son Richard. In 13 Henry IV. (1412)[36], it would appear that Richard was dead, as in that year there is an indenture dated at Eyam between John de Stafford, of Eyam, and Richard de Stafford, heir of Richard Stafford, on the one part, and Thomas de Collay, of Bakewell, and Johanna, his wife, on the other part, with respect to land held by Clement de Longsdon and others. In any case, he was dead in 4 Henry V. (1417)[36], for in that year land in Haddonlowe was granted to Roger de Padley and Lettice his wife, by Richard de Stafford, son and heir of Richard de Stafford, deceased. His son Richard, therefore, was now in possession of his lands, and it will probably be he who, as Richard Stafford, of Highlow, attested a deed of 11 Henry VI. (1432)[37], and it will be his son who, as John Stafford, of Highlow, son of Richard de Stafford, in 13 Edward IV (1474) had a grant of the lands in Longsdon and Bakewell.[36]

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