Stafford, Richard (1663-1703) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

STAFFORD, RICHARD (1663–1703), Jacobite pamphleteer, born in 1663 at Marlwood Park in the parish of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, was the second son of John Stafford. The father, who died on 7 Jan. 1704–5, was nephew of Sir John Stafford, constable of Bristol Castle, and grandson of William Stafford (1593–1684) [q. v.]

Richard Stafford was educated at the free school, Wootton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, and matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, on 15 Feb. 1677–8. Soon after graduating he entered the Middle Temple, where, according to Wood, he applied himself more to divinity than to common law. In 1689 he published, in large quarto, a treatise entitled ‘Of Happiness, wherein it is fully and particularly manifested that the greatest Happiness of this Life consisteth in the Fear of God and keeping His Commandments.’ After the revolution Stafford became a rabid Jacobite. Having on 4 Jan. 1690 presented to parliament a tract setting forth his political opinions (‘A Supplemental Tract of Government’), he was committed for a week to Newgate. In the ensuing April he was further committed to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms (and his chambers at the Temple were ordered to be searched) for having handed to the members as they went into the House of Commons two more printed sheets on politico-religious topics. At the end of a month he was liberated and sent to his father in Gloucestershire, ‘that he take care of him.’ One of these brochures Stafford reissued as his ‘Clear Apology and Just Defence.’ Edward Stephens [q. v.] thought it worth while to issue in 1690 a whig counterblast, which he called ‘An Apology for Mr. R. Stafford, with an Admonition to him and such other honest mistaken People.’

In November 1691 Stafford, ‘being altogether free and at liberty, though not in his mind,’ retired to Kensington. He there busied himself in writing and distributing more pamphlets. One of these, in which he described himself as ‘a scribe of Jesus Christ,’ he delivered at the palace into the hands of Queen Mary. He was now committed to Bethlehem Hospital, whence on 25 Nov. the speaker received a communication from him, in consequence of which the governor was ordered to refuse him the use of writing materials. Nevertheless, Stafford continued to print more or less incoherent Jacobite brochures and religious tracts. He afterwards published various religious discourses, a collection of which appeared in 1702. He was probably liberated from Bethlehem Hospital some years before his death, which took place on 2 July 1703.

Stafford printed a descriptive catalogue of his own publications. They include ‘The Printed Sayings of Richard Stafford, a prisoner in Bedlam;’ appeals to parliament and the privy council; and a letter (printed 1 Oct. 1692) wishing James II ‘a speedy, safe, and peaceable coming into England.’

[Bigland's Gloucestershire Collections, vol. ii. (Thornbury); Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss) iv. 782–3; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Stafford's Works.]

G. Le G. N.