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History of the Stafford Name

  The family name STAFFORD is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "Stat", meaning a town, and "ford" meaning a ford. These two words joined together produce the name Statford, which through a simple transition was finally spelled STAFFORD, the name of a town in England, which was originally built by Ethelfleda, daughter of King Alfred, about 910-915 A. D. It is located on the Sow River, near its junction with the Penk River. It is located about 130 miles north of London, and, in 1921, it had a population of approximately 30,000. It is the birth place of Isaac Walton. Staffords, from the Encyclopedia Britannica: The famous English House was founded in England by Robert, a younger brother of Ralph de Tosney, of a noble Norman House, who was standard bearer of the Dutchy. Robert received at the conquest of England a great feif extending into seven counties and became known as Ralph de Stafford from his residence at Stafford Castle. With his son the male line became extinct and his sister's husband, Hervey Bagot, one of knightly tenants, succeeded to her right (1194), their descendant Edward de Stafford was summoned as a baron in 1299. His son, Ralph conducted the brilliant defense of Aiguillon against the host of France, fought at Crecy and in the siege of Calais. Chosen Knight of the Garter at the foundation of the Order. He was created Earl of Stafford in 1351. His son, Hugh, who succeeded as second earl in 1372, served in the French Wars. From 1376 he became prominent in politics, probably through his marriage to a daughter of Warwick, being one of the four lords of the comittee in the Good Parliament, and also serving on the committee that controlled Richard II (1378-80), whom he accompanied on his Scottish expedition in 1385. He died next year on a pilgrimage to Rhodes. His son Thomas, the third earl, married (1392) the daughter and heiress of Thomas, Duke of Buckingham (son of Edward III) who, on Thomases death married in 1398 his brother Edmond, the fifth earl. Their son Humphrey (1402-1460), the first Stafford Duke of Buckingham was placed by his descent and his possessions in the front rank of the English Nobility. Henry the second duke, was attained in 1483, but because of the triumph of Henry VII, in 1486, Edward, the third duke (1478-1521), regained the title and the estates, and recovered the ancestral office of Lord High Constable in 1509. He was accused of treason and after a nominal trial by his peers was beheaded on May 17,1521. A subsequent Act (1523) confirming his attainder. Henry (1501-1563), the son of the last duke, was granted by the Crown some of his father's manors for his support, and, espousing the Prostestant cause (though married to a daughter of Margaret, countess of Salesbury and sister of cardinal Pole) was restored in blood on Edward VI's accession and declared Lord Stafford, a new creation, by Act of Parliament. His second surviving son, Thomas, evidently assumed the royal Arms, sailed from Dieppe with two ships on April 1557, landed in Scarborough, seized the castle and proclaimed himself protector. He was captured and executed for high treason. His father's new barony, in 1637, passed to a cadet in humble circumstances who was called on, as a pauper, to surrender to the King, which he did (illegally it is now held) in 1639. The King therefore bestowed on Mary Stafford (the Heir general of the line) and her husband, William Howard, in whose descendants, it is now vested. Roger who had surrendered the title, died in 1640, the last heir male, apparently of the main line of this historic house.


1. Dugdale Baronage (1675) Vol. i.

2. G. E. Cokayne, Complete Peerage.

3. Wrottealey. History of the Family of Bagot 1908 and Crecy and Calais.

4. Harconti. His Grace the Steward and the Trial of the Peers (1907). Episcopal Registers, diocese Exeter, 1395 to 1409.


  Edmond Stafford Bishop of Exeter. King Henry IV, By his Letters Patent had granted License to the Ekerdon and Edmond Elyot, clerks, and to Robert Gray enabling them to convey to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter the Manors of Wynterborn Wast, Bokhamton and Swanwych, in the County of Dorset and the Avowson of the Church of Wynterborn, to find three chaplins to celebrate daily in the Catholic Church for the King himself and his sons in life, and for their souls after death, and kinsmen and for all the faithful departed. Subsequently, the said William Ekerdon, Edmond Elyot and Robert Grey, conveyed the said estates accordingly; and the Bishop proceeded to the ordinance- which provided (1) that the Dean priests to be called the Annivellarii of Edmond Stafford, Bishop, who should at the alter of St. John Evangelist, adjoining the Lady - Chapel, for the Bishop himself, and for Sir Humphrey de Stafford and Elizabeth, his wife; also Sir Richard de Stafford, knight, and Isabella Stafford, the Bishop's father and mother, and his uncle Ralph de Stafford, and lastly for King Henry IV, - for all these whether living or departed and for the faithful departed. Ref: Book 5107, E8A3, Vol. 3, Cong. Lib. Dr. G. M. G. Stafford states in Stafford Genealogy: There was only one Stafford family in England, no matter how lowly in worldly goods or station a man might be who bore that name, it was definitely known that he was a member of that great parent family designated by it. The Staffords are Norman descent through Robert de Tonei, a knight who came over to England in the retinue of William the Conqueror and became the progenitor of the extensive family now known by the name of Stafford. His Royal Master appointed him Governor of the Castle of Stafford. From the title of the Castle, Robert de Tonei and his descendants assumed the name of Stafford. Edmond, fifth Earl of Stafford, married Lady Ann Plantagenet, eldest daughter of Thomas, Duke of Buckingham, youngest son of Edward III, by whom he had only one son, Humphrey, sixth Earl of Stafford, who in consequence of his near alliance to the Crown, was created in 1444 Duke of Buckingham. Consequently all of the descendants of Edmond, fifth Earl of Stafford, are in line of direct descent from the House of Plantagenet. For several generations the exponents of this great family were very close to the throne, and at least two of them lost their heads for political reasons. The Media Research Bureau of Washington, D. C. furnished the following data on the Stafford family: It is claimed that the family of Stafford is descended from a Norman follower of William the Conqueror, one Robert de Tonei, Governor of the Castle of Stafford, in the eleventh century, whose descendants used the name of de Stafford. Robert de Tonei was the great grand-father of Robert de Stafford who died about 1189, leaving an only child named Milicent who married Hervey who took the mother's surname. Edward de Stafford, great grandson of the last mentioned Hervey de Stafford was created first Lord Stafford in the latter part of the 13th century and married Maud de Comville who gave him among others Ralph and Richard, of whom the last was the ancestor of the barons, Stafford of Clifton, and the first constituted the line and was created Earl of Stafford in 1351. Ralph Stafford, Earl of Stafford, married Margaret, the only daughter of and Heiress of Hugh Audley, Earl of Glouster and grandson of King Edward I of England, and is said to have had issue by her of, among other children, a daughter Margaret who married her cousin Sir John Stafford and had a son named Ralph who was the Lord Steward of the House of King Edward III, and married Matilda Hastang, by whom she had Sir Humphrey, who married Margaret Fogge and had Sir William who married as his second wife a distant cousin Dorothy Stafford whose ancestry will be traced below. Edmond, fifth Earl of stafford, a direct descendant of the before mentioned Ralph de Stafford of the 14th century, was married in the latter part of that century to Lady Ann Plantagenet, granddaughter of King Edward III of England, and had issue by her of Humphrey Stafford, who was the first in line to bear the title of Duke of Buckingham who married Anne Nevile, daughter of the first Earl of Westmorland. They were parents of another Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, who married Margaret Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of Summerset, and had Humphrey who was the father of Edward, who married Eleanor Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, and had issue by her of Henry, who was the father of the before mentioned Dorothy Stafford, who married Sir William Stafford in the latter part of the 16th century. Another line of the family was that of the County of Wexford, which is said to have been represented as early as the year 1335 by one Hamon de Stafford, who was the ancestor of George and John Stafford of the time of King Edward IV, of whom the last had a son named Nicholas, who also had a son named Nicholas, and who was the father of John Stafford High Sheriff in Wexford in 1640. It is not definitely known from which of the many illustrious lines of the family in England the first emigrants to America were descended, but it is generally believed that all of the families of the name are of common ancestry. The descendants of the various branches of the family have spread to every State in the Union and have aided as much in the growth of the country as their ancestors aided in the founding of the nation. We, who are connected with this great family, may be assured that we are not only descended from English Royalty, but the ancestry can readily be traced back through the French Royalty and into the Roman Royalty to Mark Anthony. Tradition persists that our Stafford ancestry escaped from England, by night, in order to save their heads. They had a legitimate claim to the Castle, but being in the minority, escaped to Ireland and finally came to America. It is a well known fact that high rank and great wealth frequently involved great risk in medieval times, in England as well as other countries of the civilized world. The Stafford nobility seemed to have its share of reverses, but from that great family has stemmed many of the great men of the English speaking countries, including America. The Washingtons, Lees, Tafts and many other great men of the New World trace their ancestry back to the Stafford nobility. It is therefore a matter of great pride that we are privileged to align ourselves with the descendants of the Stafford family. Let us now turn to "The West Ulster Staffords and Their Descendants" by Thomas A. Stafford, 1952, page 11, which states in substance : The first direct lineal Stafford of whom we have a reliable record was John Stafford, of Staffordshire, England. He was the oldest of a family of four. His wife's maiden name was Margaret Brunt. He had two sisters: Margaret, who married James Welch, and Lettie who married John Gregg. Old records in Ohio hint that the above mentioned family all lived and died in Staffordshire, England. It is the belief of the writer (Thomas A. Stafford) that the above mentioned John accompanied his entire family of eight children to Ireland and built the first house they occupied in County Fermanaugh, which is situated in what was then known as the Province of Ulster. It is this writer's belief that the tradition which tells us that the Staffords had to leave England, by night, was this exodus from Staffordshire. These traditions have a way of being basically true, though the details as to dates and names are often in error. It is therefore believed that John Stafford took his family and removed to Ulster for safety. After his sons were grown and able to fend for themselves, they went to America. Philadelphia was the port of entry. The record shows that John Stafford, oldest child of Ralph and Jane (Kane) Stafford was born in Pennsylvania. Tradition tells us that John was born enroute to Virginia from Ireland. The historical record of Pennsylvania shows that there were some Staffords in Pennsylvania at that time. It therefore seems reasonable that the three Stafford brothers and their wives stopped in Philadelphia for a time. John was born 1779, and it is agreed that they did not reach Giles County until 1785. If that is true, then James who was born in 1780 must have been born in Pennsylvania also. Attention is invited to the fact that Jane and Nancy, children of John and Margaret (Brunt) Stafford, married Johnstons. Reference is now made to Johnston's History of the Middle New River Settlements, page 419, in which we find that the Johnstons who first settled in what is now Giles County, Virginia, migrated from County Fermanaugh, Ireland, to America, about 1750 or earlier. Through this connection, no doubt, glowing tales of america filtered back to County Fermanaugh, Ireland, and was, undoubtedly, the deciding factor which caused the Stafford men to immigrate to America and to settle in the same locality where their kin, the Johnstons, had previously made a start. The 1820 census for Giles County, Virginia, shows thirteen Stafford householders. The 1850 census for Giles County, Virginia, shows forty-one householders who were born in Ireland. John Stafford, b. ca. 1736-7, in Staffordshire, England; m. Margaret Brunt in Staffordshire, England; removed with his family to County Fermanaugh, Ireland, about 1760; built a substantial house and reared his family in that County. Ralph Stafford son of John Stafford and Margaret (Brunt) Stafford, was born ca. 1757, probably in Staffordshire, England; m. ca. 1777, in Ireland, Jane Kane; came to America about 1778-9. Thomas A. Stafford, in his West Ulster Staffords, says that the Virginia family of Staffords came to Giles (Montgomery) County in 1785, which we are inclined to believe is approximately correct. The first record we have of Ralph Stafford in Virginia, comes from the "Annals of South-West Virginia", by Summers, page 919, Nov. 2, 1787, stating that Ralph Stafford bought from John and Sarah Craig 67 acres west side of Roakers Creek for fifty pounds. Annalls of S-W Virginia by Summers, p. 942, Oct. 7, 1800, states: Jane Stafford sold to James Stafford, Jr., 230 acres on Sugar Run, Walkers Creek bordering on New River, for one dollar, Etc. The above mentioned transaction indicates that Jane (Kane) Stafford was living in 1800. The following data was furnished by Walter D. Osborne, of White House, Kentucky, taken from a photostat of the original volume of the "Schoolmaster's Assistant", a family record book. John Stafford was married to Polly (Mary) Davis, the 9th day of April 1809, A. D. Polly (Mary) Stafford was born the 8th day of December 1789. John Stafford was born the 17th day of February 1779. "Command you may your mind from every moment in the day, Arth Mullett". John is my name, America is my Nation, Walkers Creek, my to dwelling place but Christ is my salvation. John Stafford, 1810 James Stafford was born the fourth day of July, 1780. Ann Stafford was born the fifth day of November, 1786. Ralph Stafford was born the fourth day of July, 1791. (Tamsy) Stafford was born the first day of May, 1793. (The name Tamsy is illegible on the original). Attest: Jan. 6th, 1944, by Effie Guynn McClure. Will of Ralph Stafford, recorded in Will Book B, page 208, Montgomery County, Virginia. In the Name of God Amen I Ralph Stafford of Montgomery County and State of Virginia being weak in body but sound and perfect in mind and memory Blessed be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say, I desire that my body may be decently Entered, and that all my Lawful debts be paid first I give and bequeath unto my beloved Wife Jane Stafford all my moveable Estate. I further give and devise to my Eldest son John Stafford his heirs and assigns my tract of a hundred acres of land joining John Wrays land. I further give and devise to my son James Stafford my plantation of two hundred acres of land on the Chinquepine Spring to him and his heirs and assigns, I also give and bequeath to my beloved Wife the use or rent of the Chinquepine Spring place till my son James comes of age. I also will and bequeath to my beloved Wife one third of the place I now live on during her natural life and also the whole use of said place till my son Ralph Stafford comes of age if she does not marry sooner and if she married before my son Ralph comes of age then the use of the two thirds of said place is to go to the use of all my children. I further give and devise to my son Ralph Stafford his heirs and assigns the plantation I now live on containing about two hundred acres be there more or less it being in two Surveys adjoining; I also give and devise to the child my Wife is now pregnant my Tract of land on Sugar Run containing forty two acres and also the rent of the place that I hereby devise to my son John tho in case it dies before my son John comes of age then the Rent of said place is to go to my son John when he comes of age. I hereby appoint Thomas Shannon, and John Stafford Executors and my beloved wife Jane Stafford Executrix of this my last will and testament, in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 15th day of April In the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety three. Witnesses: John Hicks, Edward Stafford, and Elizabeth Bogle. At Montgomery August Court, 1794: The last will and testament of Ralph Stafford decd. was exhibited in Court and proved by the oaths of John Hicks, Edward Stafford and Elizabeth Bogle the witnesses thereon and ordered to be recorded And on the motion of John Stafford one of the Executors and Jane Stafford the Executrix therein named certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form they having first made oath and entered into Bond as the law directs. Charles Taylor C. M. C. The unborn child referred to in the will of Ralph Stafford was called "Tamsy", probably a nickname. We believe her real name was Thamisine. The brothers and sisters of the above mentioned Ralph Stafford were: Jane Stafford, Nancy Stafford, Thomas Stafford, James Stafford, Edward Stafford, Mary Stafford, and John Stafford. Thomas Stafford, m. Barbara Irwin and remained in Ireland. Many of his descendants came to America later. Thomas A. Stafford, who wrote the genealogy of the West Ulster Staffords and Their Descendants, is a descendant of this couple. He lives in Ohio. James Stafford, probably born in Ireland, married Nancy Eaton and came to America, settled in Giles County, Virginia. It is said that he came later than his other brothers. The 1810 census for Giles County shows the following data for him and his family: 1m 0-10; 1m 16-26; 1m 26-45; 1m over 45 (James); 3f 0-10; 1f 26-45. Edward Stafford, b. in Ireland; m. Margaret Eaton and removed to Giles County, Virginia, about 1785. The 1810 census for Giles County shows the following data for him and his family: 1m over 45 (Edward); 1f 0-10; 2f 16-26; 1f over 45 (Margaret). John Stafford, b. in Ireland; m. Mrs. Elizabeth (Brown) Fair and removed to Giles County, Virginia, about 1785. The 1810 census for Giles County shows the following data for him and his family: 1m 0-10; 1m 16-26; 1m over 45(John); 1f over 45 (Elizabeth).

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