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


IX. - RICHARD STAFFORD presumably succeeded to the Roland estates on the death of his father, and to the Lynford and Stafford estates on the death of his uncle Robert. The exact dates are uncertain. He married Agnes, daughter of Roger Eyre, of Holm Hall. The first evidence of any independent action on his part lies in two deeds executed at Roland on the 20th October, 21 Edward IV. (1481)[88] Both are grants of land in Roland - one “by Robert Mockson, Chaplain, and Richard Cobyn to Richard Stafford, son and heir of Lady Margaret Stafford, and Agnes his wife, daughter of Roger Eyre, sen., gent.”; and the other by “Richard Stafford, son and heir of Margaret Stafford, widow to Robert Mockson, and Richard Cobyn”. The next[89] is dated 2 Richard III. (1484), and is “a release by Thomas Trote, son and heir of John Trote, late of Folowe, to Richard Stafford, kinsman and heir of Robert Stafford, late of Eyam, of a messuage and five roods of land in Foolow, lying between a messuage belonging to the said Richard and that lately belonging to Richard Staden, which John Trote had of the feoffment of the said Richard Stafford”.

The next evidence is in a deed which apparently was drawn up and executed by Richard, mainly for the purpose of ensuring a maintenance for his two natural children. It is evidently made in exercise of a power reserved in a previous[90] - probably a marriage - settlement, reserving the right to charge his estates to a limited extent, so that he might make provision for all [Page 286] younger children, for the original settlement would, of course, entail the whole property upon the eldest son in tail. Hence the father's name is not mentioned, as he was already amply provided for and did not come within the power. That is should be exercised to include illegitimate children is unusual, and suggests that the wording of the power was in general terms instead of the usual limitation in favour of younger children. The document alluded to is a declaration[91] by “Richard Stafford son and heir of John Stafford of Eyam of the uses of an enfeoffment made 20 Oct: 6 Henry VII. (1490) by him in trust to Robert Eyre of Padeley junr., Phillip Eyre, Parson of Ashover, Roger Eyre of Holme, Nicholas Stafford his brother, and Roger Eyre of Plumley, of lands in Eyam, Middleton, Calver, Roland, Youlgreave, Tideswell, Longsdon, Hucklow, Leam and Bakewell - for certain purposes - namely, that he should enjoy the revenue of the said lands during his life, and after his decease that his wife should have her proper dower, together with her jointure, and that certain moneys should be paid to the use of his bastard son Thomas, and his bastard daughter Margaret, and that his legitimate son John should have for the term of his life an estate of landes and tenements to the yerely value of four marks over all charges and reprises in Calver; the remainder thereof after his decease to the heirs of his body lawfully begotten, and in default to his right heirs”.[91] Further, that ten marks should be taken yearly till a sum of £40 has been made up to provide for those of his daughters lawfully begotten who should marry. If all his daughters died unmarried, then ten marks of that £40 was to be paid to his two natural children, and the residue to his brother Nicholas. This deed furnishes almost the only information obtainable concerning Richard and his children. No daughter is mentioned by name. No son but John. It is obvious, however, that John could not have been his only legitimate son. It has been shown above the reason why his heir is not mentioned, nor is it possible that he [Page 287] would have left his only son and heir in the position shown in that deed even though he might have been a spendthrift - certainly dependent on the trustees of his father's estate for an annual income of only four marks (£2 13s. 4d.), chargeable, too, on the lands in Calver alone, one small portion only of his large estates. It will be noticed, that after sending the whole revenue proceeding from these estates on himself Richard settled “the remainder” - all his real estate - subject to certain charges, on his heir-at-law, and that he provided for John after the same manner as his daughters. John, then, certainly could not have been his heir-at-law. Thirty years afterwards all the estates hitherto owned by the Staffords were in the possession of “Humphrey Stafford, armiger”, and from him they were transmitted to his descendants. Who was this Humphrey? The manuscript pedigrees contained in Add. M.S.S. 6,675, p. 259, and in the Wolley M.S.S. Add. 6,671, p. 120, in the British Museum, represent him as the son of John and grandson of Richard. Where is the proof of this statement? Is it not far more probable that he was the heir-at-law alluded to above, the son and heir of Richard and his brother John, as is suggested by Vincent in his pedigree of the family among the collections of the Heralds' College? The dates would admit of this.

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