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


VIII. - ROBERT STAFFORD succeeded to the estates on his father's death.

There are three charters dated 1 Henry IV. (1400), two of which relate to the same lands in Eyam, though one was executed in Lincolnshire, but all three tend to prove that Robert was the eldest son of John de Stafford. This is the reason why no other issue is shown on the Lynford pedigree previously mentioned.

(1) Grant of a messuage and two bovates of land and one toft lying near Leyumasty in Eyam by Richard de Stafford of Eyam and John Rankell, chaplain, to Alice, wife of John Stafford, [Page 278] armiger, and Robert, their son, and his lawful heirs,[61] dated at Eyam.

(2) Power of attorney concerning the same lands from Alice, wife of John Stafford, armiger, and Robert, their son, to Richard Knottesford, of Newton, co. Lincoln, dated at Kettlethorpe, co. Lincoln.[62]

(3) Grant by John Rankel, chaplain, to Alice, wife of John Stafford, armiger, and Robert, their son, and his heirs, of all lands and tenements, etc., which had belonged to John Stafford, of Eyam, senior, the father of the said John Stafford, in Eyam, Ryley, Folowe, Hucklow, Bakewell, Youlgrave, and Castleton, to be held during the lifetime of Alice, and after her death to descend to Robert, with the remainder to John and Roger, their other sons, dated at Eyam.[63]

It is possible that Alice herself had brought many of these lands to her husband. Some are mentioned here the the first time. At present her identity is a matter for conjecture. The following copy of a note is among the manuscripts at Heralds' College, which has been made at some time from an original deed apparently not now in a existence:-

“Robert Oletham de Stotton grants to John de Stafforth and Alice his wife daughter of the said Robert Oletham all his tenements in the town of Stotton to their heirs lawfully begotten, but if they die without heirs of their two bodies then to return to the said Robert Oletham and his heirs for ever. Dated at Stotton 12 Rich. II. (1388)”.

As Stafford is occasionally written Stafforth, Oletham may possibly be Oledam or “Oldham”, or it may be a clerical error for Chetham, but no such place exists as Stotton. There is, however, no more frequent error made in palaeography than confusion between the letters c and t, which are almost identical in form, consequently this place will be almost certainly Scotton, in co. Lincoln, which is about 15 miles from Kettlethorpe.

[Page 279] A bond, dated 10th October, 1 Henry VI. (1422), was executed, in which Sir John Kyghley, Richard Wallace, armiger, of co. Sussex, and Robert Stafford, armiger of co. Derby, were bound to Sir Philip Braunche, Knt., in a sum of 350 marks.[64]

In an inquest[65] of Knights fees taken at Ashbourne 10 Henry VI. (1430), appears the entry “Robert Stafford of Eyam Esqr. 40/- in Eyam”. There is in the Heralds' College a note of a grant dated at Eyam 10th November, 10 Henry VI. (1431), “made by John Stafford de Eyam, and Margaret, his wife, to Richard Pygot, Esquier, Robert Stafford, Esquier, and to John Stafford, their son, of all their lands, tenements, rents and services in Rowland, Calver, and Eyam, on condition that they enfeoff the said John Stafford, and Margaret, his wife, in the same, their heirs and assigns for ever”. Except a release,[66] however, to him of lands and tenement at Eyam, by John, son and heir of Nicholas Wardlow, which is dated 18 Henry VI. (1439), it is not till the 7th June 23 Henry VI. (1445), that there is any further mention of him, on which day a bond[67] was executed by Isabella Barton, of Thornton, co. Buckingham, widow, to Robert Stafford, armiger, of Eyam, in the £100, concerning the manor of Thornburgh co. Buckingham, lately in the possession of Thomas Lynford, deceased, and in the same year there is a grant by Nicholas Martin, of Tideswell, to Robert Stafford, of Eyam, of a messuage and two bovates of land in Eyam called Rylye.[68]

Riley is the name, to this day, of a plot of land on the top and slope of the hill on the eastern side of the parish of Eyam. This is probably the same land settled on Robert's mother in 1400 - see page 278. Years afterwards, in 1520, there was a [Page 280] dispute about the possession of land in Ryley between Humphry Stafford and Ralph Martyn, probably a descendant of this Nicholas, the account of which appears on page 287.

There is evidence of Robert's marriage, soon after this, for on the 4th January, 24 Henry VI. (1446),[69] a settlement of lands in Eyam, Bakewell, Youlgrave, Tideswell, and Hucklow was made on Thomas Eyre, armiger, and Richard Bakewell, in trust for Robert Stafford, armiger, and Elizabeth, his wife, and their children, and, failing legitimate issue, to the sole use of Robert Stafford. A recovery of the same lands is dated 6 January, 24 Henry VI. (1446). Both deeds are dated at Eyam.

In 32 Henry VI. (1454), a writ was issued ordering him not to commit waste, etc., in certain messuages and lands at Monyash, Chelmorton, Calver, Bromley, and Osfaston[?], pending the hearing of a suit[70] between him and Thomas Vernon, Esquier.

The next year a power of attorney was given “by John Barrow, arm., to Richard Stafford for a entry into all the lands and lead mines in Monyash, Chelmorton, and Calver, and other places in co. Derby, of which he had lately become possessed by the gift and feoffment of Thomas Lynford, and to give seisin of the said lands to Robert Stafford, armiger, William de la Pole, John Milne, and Thomas Wild”. This is dated at Monyash 3rd January, 33 Henry VI. (1455)[71]

Although Robert Stafford had become possessed of the Lynford estates on his father's death some 25 years before this, he appears only now to have had the title-deeds delivered over to him, probably by his trustees, for the 19th day of January, in the thirty-third year of Henry VI. (1456), is the date of a

“Byll[72] indentyd which bears witness that Nicholas Hasulhyrst and John Folowe had delivered to Robert Stafford Esquier of Eyhum a dede of ffeoft selyd wt gwyt wax and the seyll off armes off Sir Laurens [Page 281] Lynford, a dede of ffeoft off landys tayll selyd wt the same seyll, a dede of ffeofet undyr the same seyll, a acquite indentyd betwyxt Thomas Barow and John Stafford, a letter off Attorney made to be Robt Stafford unto Willem Taylor and John Cobyn with al dedys in a box inscybed conteynge the Manor of Thurghweston”.

This fact is presumptive evidence that his wife, Elizabeth, was now deceased, without leaving issue, for assuming that the Lynford estates were subject to a similar settlement to that quoted before, Robert Stafford would become now absolutely entitled to the estate, and so deeds would be delivered to him.

Certain memoranda have been written, probably about this time, on the reverse side of the skin containing the Lynford pedigree,[73] quoted on page 275. They relate to the chief rents due by Robert to the lord of the manor of Eyam, of which the collector is one Richard Stafford, possibly Robert's first cousin mentioned on page 272.

The first item is “William de Hassop payeth for the holding in Monyash 12d”, and last is, “Robert Stafford for land in Folowe by year 3s/8d and for lands in Eyam 13d. Sum total xxis 1d to which the Lord receives yearly and no more”. The Lord of the manor of Eyam in 1456, when this was probably written, was John, second Earl of Shrewsbury.

A grant, dated 2 Edward IV. (1463),[74] by Richard de Stafford, of Highlowe, and Robert Stafford, of Eyam, Esquier, to Roger Stafford - probably his brother - of certain lands in Bakewell, and another of the same date by the same Richard to Robert Stafford, of Eyam, and Robert and John Milne, give the last information which can be gathered about him. He probably died very soon after this date. At any rate, he was dead in 1467, the date of “and indenture[75] between Richard Stafford cousin[76] and heir of Robert Stafford Esqr late of Eyam and Thomas Foljambe Esqr enumerating the contents of a box of Deeds delivered to the said Thomas Foljamb to keep to the [Page 282] behoof and use of the said Richard and his heirs”. In 14 Edward IV. (1474)[77] a lease was executed by Roger and John Milne with a quitclaim to Henry Vernon, of lands, which were held by them and Robert Stafford, now deceased, of the gift and feoffment of Richard de Stafford. Robert was succeeded in the Stafford and Lynford estates by his nephew Richard, the son of his brother, John Stafford, who, himself, as will be seen, was by no means an unimportant member of the family, although a second son.

JOHN DE STAFFORD, the second son of John de Stafford, of Eyam, married Margaret, the daughter and heir of Roger Roland, of Roland, in Great Longstone, which marriage brought into the family various possessions, in addition to the manor of Roland. The following is constructed from various deeds in the Hassop collection:-

Peter de Roland[78]
temp. Henry III. =
Stephen de Roland =
19 Edward II.
John de Roland =
19 Edward II.
Godfrey de Roland =
40 Edward III.
Dionysia de Roland.
Roger de Roland =
19 Richard II.
Margaret = John de Stafford.

The year 1409 (10 Henry IV.) was the date of “a grant in tail by Nicholas Martyn, of Folowe, John Andrew and John Clerk, chaplains, and William Meverell, to Margaret, daughter and heir of Roger de Roland, of the manor of Roland, which they held from Thomas de Benteley and [Page 283] Johanna, his wife, kinswoman and heir of Nicholas Martyn, chaplain, within the lordship of Eyam and Calvore, with reminader to Margery, the daughter of Godfrey de Roland, and to Stephen de Roland”.[79] John Stafford - possibly his father - attested this deed, and among the Hassop deeds is one bearing the same date, which is the grant to John Stafford from Nicholas Martyn, and another, of the custody of Margaret, daughter and heir of Roger de Roland. Although there is no mention of any intended marriage, these deeds were probably executed with a view to that, and therefore the first was witnessed by him. Of the date of the actual marriage there is, however, no record, but in the first year of Henry VI. (1423), a release to John Stafford, junior, of Eyam, and Margaret his wife, was executed by Richard Penyston, son and heir of William Penyston, of Baslow, of “omnimodas acciones”, real and personal.[80]

A release was executed 11 Henry VI. (1432)[81] by Johanna, widow of Thomas de Bentley, of Tideswell, to John Stafford, of Eyam, and Margaret his wife, daughter and heir of Roger de Roland, and to John their son, of lands which formerly belonged to Richard Martyn, Chaplain, uncle to the said Johanna, in Roland, Calvor, and Eyam Clyff. These same lands were, in 1431, granted to Richard Pygot and Robert Stafford on condition that they enfeoffed the said John Stafford and Margaret, his wife, and their heirs in the same.[82] His name appears among the special Conservators of the Peace, which had been chosen by the Commissioners in the county, under an enactment made 12 Henry VI. (1433)[83] “for the better keeping of the peace”.

Among the records of this family in the possession of the writer is an interesting document, dated 1444, which is a grant by the prior and convent of the Carmelites at Doncaster to [Page 284] John Stafford, generosus, of Eyam, and to Margaret, his wife, and their children, of a mass and three collects to be sung for them on the feasts of the Annunciation, Trinity, and All Saints', for ever as an acknowledgement that they have received “from John Stafford of Eyam, in the Peak”, a sum of money for the repair of their house and redemption of their jewels pledged on account of their intolerable debts. Certain penalties were to be imposed should the priest neglect this duty.[84] This document, which is in Latin, is dated at Stafford at a general convocation on the feast of St. Zacchaeus, 15th March, 1444, and bears the remains of the seal of the prior and convent. On the back of the parchment, in English, is a long statement by John de Stafford to the effect that he imposes upon his heirs of the manors of Roland and Calver for ever, certain taxes and rents and wax candles to the prior of Newstead, and for the use of Eyam Church, for which he granted them a full part of a mass performed in the White Friars at Doncaster, and “yf thay do not”, he adds, “I graunt hem no part bot and he be a gudman he wyll full fayn for hys saule sake and I pray hem thus be way of conciens for the land standys tailled”.

By the deed[85] of 11 Henry VI (1432), quoted before, it would seem that John was the eldest of his sons, and was alive on the 24th June, 1445, which is the date of a “Release by John Stafford, of Eyam, and Margaret, his wife, to John Stafford, their son, of lands in Roland, Calver, and Eyam Clyff, otherwise Midilton Clyf in Eyam, which lands he holds cojointly with Robert Stafford”.[86] After this date there is no evidence to be found relating either to father or son. In 1465 there is proof that John Stafford, the father, was dead, and it is to be presumed that John Stafford, the son, was likewise dead, as the 4th of November, 5 Edward IV. (1465)[87] is the date of “a grant by Dame Margaret Stafford, widow of John Stafford, Esquier, to Richard, their son and heir, of lands in Eyam Cliff, alias [Page 285] Midleton Clyff, and five marks annuity out of the Manor of Roland, with a proviso for the cessation of the annuity and provision for the unmarried daughters of the grantor at the discretion of Thomas Foljambe, Esquier”.

John Stafford, therefore, never lived to succeed his elder brother in the paternal estates, but about the year 1465 died, having had issue by Margaret, his wife:-

  1. John, who probably died in his father's lifetime.
  2. Richard, his heir, of whom presently.
  3. Nicholas.
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