branch of a famous Staffordshire house, the Audleys of Healey, near Newcastle-under-Lyme; the cadet line took its name from the manor of Stanlegh, close to Cheddleton, but settled in Cheshire under Edward II on acquiring, by marriage, the manor of Storeton and the hereditary forestership of Wirral. The nephew of Sir John (who was a younger son) removed the chief seat of the elder line of Stanley to Hooton in Wirral by marriage with its heiress (Dugdale ii. 247; Ormerod ii. 411). A still more fortunate alliance (before October 1385) with Isabel, daughter of Sir Thomas Latham, made Sir John Stanley himself lord of great part of the hundred of West Derby in south-west Lancashire, including Knowsley and Lathom (Rot. Parl. iii. 205; cf. Wylie, ii. 290). The famous Stanley crest of the eagle and child, which gave rise to a family legend, no doubt came from the Lathams (Baines, i. 49, iv. 248; Seacome, p. 22; Gregson, pp. 244, 250). Their badge in the fifteenth century was an eagle's (or griffin's) leg (Doyle, Official Baronage, i. 553; Gairdner, p. 412; Ormerod, iii. 641). Sir John, who in his youth had served in Aquitaine, went to Ireland as deputy for Richard II's favourite, De Vere, in 1386, and subsequently held important posts both there (lieutenant, 1389–91) and on the Welsh and Scottish borders. Henry IV rewarded his speedy adhesion with Hope and Mold castles and a regrant (10 Dec. 1399) of his old office in Ireland. But he became officially bankrupt, and in 1401 was superseded. Steward of the household to Henry, prince of Wales, from 1403, he entered the order of the Garter in 1405. The king rewarded his services during the northern revolt of that year by a grant, first for life and then in perpetuity, by the service of a cast of falcons at coronations, of the Isle of Man, which had been forfeited by the rebellion of the Earl of Northumberland (Fœdera, viii. 419; Baines, i. 370). In 1409 Stanley was made constable of Windsor. Henry V once more sent him to govern Ireland, and it was at Ardee, in that island, that he died on 18 Jan. 1414 (Dugdale, ii. 248; Seacome, p. 20). The Irish writers ascribed his death to irritation caused by the virulent lampoons of the plundered bard Niall O'Higgin (Gilbert, Viceroys, p. 301). Stanley built the tower in Water Street, Liverpool, which survived till 1821 (Gregson, p. 172). His third son, Thomas, was the ancestor of the Stanleys of Aldford and Elford. The eldest, John, the Manx legislator, married Isabel, sister of Sir William and daughter of Sir John Harrington of Hornby Castle, Lancashire, and died in 1437 (Ormerod, ii. 412; cf. Collins, ed. Brydges, iii, 54).
Their eldest son, Thomas Stanley (1406?–1459), born about 1406, first appears in 1424, when an armed affray between ‘Thomas Stanley, the younger of the Tower, esquire,’ and Sir Richard Molyneux (d. 1439) [see under Molyneux, Sir Richard, (d. 1459)], constable of Liverpool Castle, at the opposite end of the town, was prevented only by the arrest of both (Gregson, p. 171). He was knighted before 1431, when Henry VI made him lieutenant-governor of Ireland for six years. In 1446 Eleanor Cobham [see under Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester] was entrusted to his keeping in the Isle of Man. From that year to 1455 Stanley represented Lancashire in parliament; he took part in more than one negotiation with Scotland, and by March 1447 became comptroller of the royal household (Fœdera, xi. 169). The parliament of 1450–1 demanded his dismissal from court with others of Suffolk's party (Rot. Parl. v. 216), but on the triumph of the Yorkists in 1455 he was made, or remained, lord-chamberlain and a privy councillor, and 15 Jan. 1456 received a summons to the house of peers as Lord Stanley. He became K.G. before May 1457, and died on 20 Feb. 1459 (Complete Peerage, iii. 68; cf. Ormerod, iii. 337). By his wife, Joan Goushill, he had four sons and three daughters; the second son, Sir William Stanley of Holt (d. 1495), is separately noticed; the third, John, was the ancestor of the Stanleys of Alderley; the fourth, James, was archdeacon of Carlisle [see under Stanley, James, (1465?–1515)].
The eldest, Thomas, who succeeded as second Baron Stanley, was born about 1435, and in 1454 had been one of Henry VI's esquires (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 223). His political attitude was from the first ambiguous. When Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury [q. v.], who was perhaps already his father-in-law, encountered the royal forces at Blore Heath in August 1459, Stanley, though not more than six miles away, kept the two thousand men he had raised at the queen's call out of the fight. His brother William fought openly on the Yorkist side, and was attainted in the subsequent parliament. Stanley himself, though he came in and took the oath of allegiance, was impeached as a traitor by the commons, who alleged that he had given Salisbury a conditional promise of support. The queen, however, thought it better to overlook his suspicious conduct (Rot. Parl. v. 348, 369). He was with Henry at the battle of Northampton in the following summer, but the