Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stafford, Edward (1552?-1605)
STAFFORD, Sir EDWARD (1552?–1605), diplomatist, born about 1552, was the eldest son of Sir William Stafford of Grafton and Chebsey, Staffordshire, by his second wife, Dorothy (1532–1604), daughter of Henry Stafford, first baron Stafford [q. v.] William Stafford (1554–1612) [q. v.] was his brother, and Thomas Stafford (1533?–1557) [q. v.] was his maternal uncle. The Staffords of Grafton were a branch of the same family as the dukes of Buckingham and barons Stafford (see pedigree in ‘Visitations of Staffordshire,’ Harl. MSS. 6128 ff. 89–91, and 1415 f. 109). Sir Edward's mother, who died on 22 Sept. 1604, and was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster, was a friend and mistress of the robes to Queen Elizabeth, and it was probably through her influence that Stafford secured employment from the queen. In May 1578 he is said to have been sent to Catherine de' Medici to protest against Anjou's intention of accepting the sovereignty of the Netherlands (Froude, xi. 107). In the following year he was selected to carry on the negotiations for a marriage between Elizabeth and Anjou. In August he was at Boulogne, bringing letters from the duke to Elizabeth, and in December 1579, January 1579–80, June, July, and November 1580 he paid successive visits to France in the same connection (Cal. Hatfield MSS. vol. ii. passim; Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1558–1580, Nos. 789, 791, 808, 809; Hume, Courtships of Elizabeth, pp. 214, 222–3, 230, 264). On 1 Nov. 1581, on his arrival in London, Anjou was lodged in Stafford's house.
Stafford's conduct of these negotiations must have given Elizabeth complete satisfaction; for in October 1583 he was appointed resident ambassador in France and knighted (Metcalfe, p. 135); his chaplain was Richard Hakluyt [q. v.] He remained at this post seven years; his correspondence (now at the Record Office, at Hatfield, and among the Cottonian MSS. in the British Museum) is a chief source of the diplomatic history of the period, and has been extensively used by Motley and others. Many of his letters are printed in extenso in Murdin's ‘Burghley Papers,’ in ‘Miscellaneous State Papers’ (1778, i. 196–215, and 251–97), and others have been calendared among the Hatfield MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.) Stafford showed his independence and protestantism by refusing to have his house in Paris draped during the feast of Corpus Christi, 1584. In February 1587–8 he had a remarkable secret interview with Henry III, in which that monarch sought Elizabeth's mediation with the Huguenots (Baird, The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre, ii. 16). He was in great danger on the ‘day of barricades’ (12 May 1588), but when Guise offered him a guard, he replied with spirit that he represented the majesty of England, and would accept no other protection, and Guise gave secret orders that he should not be molested (ib.; Thuanus, Historia, x. 264–6; Motley, United Netherlands, ii. 431–2). When he received news of the defeat of the armada, Stafford wrote a pamphlet, of which he printed four hundred copies at a cost of five crowns, to counteract the effect of the news of Spanish success which the Spanish ambassador in France had circulated. In October 1589 he appears to have visited England, and returned to Dieppe with money and munitions for Henry of Navarre. He was in constant attendance on Henry during the war, was present in September 1590 when Alexander Farnese captured Lagny and relieved Paris, and again was with Henry in the trenches before Paris a month later. At the end of that year Stafford returned to England, and in the following July was succeeded as ambassador by Sir Henry Unton [q. v.], and given 500l. as a reward by the queen.
Stafford had apparently been promised the secretaryship of state, and during the next few years there were frequent rumours of his appointment to that post and to the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster (Chamberlain, Letters, pp. 52, 94, 112, 139). But he had to content himself with the remembrancership of first-fruits (Nov. 1591) and a post in the pipe office. He was created M.A. at Oxford 27 Sept. 1592, was made bencher of Gray's Inn in the same year, and elected M.P. for Winchester in March 1592–3. He sat on a commission for the relief of maimed soldiers and mariners in that session, and was re-elected to parliament for Stafford in 1597–8 and 1601, and for Queenborough in 1604. James I granted him 60l. a year in exchequer lands instead of the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster, which had been promised by Elizabeth. He died on 5 Feb. 1604–5, and was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster (Winwood, Memorials, ii. 49; Mackenzie Walcott, St. Margaret's, Westminster, pp. 27, 32).
Stafford married, first, Robserta, daughter of one Chapman, by whom he had a son William, who was admitted a member of Gray's Inn on 1 May 1592, and two daughters. By his second wife, Dowglas (sic), daughter of William, first baron Howard of Effingham [q. v.], Stafford appears to have had two sons who probably died young. He has been frequently confused in the calendars of state papers and elsewhere with Edward, baron Stafford [see under Stafford, Henry, first Baron Stafford], and with other members of the Stafford family named Edward, some of whom were also knights (see pedigree in Harl. MS. 6128, ff. 89–91), and Motley makes him die in 1590.[Harl. MSS. 6128 and 1415; Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Venetian Ser.; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Rymer's Fœdera; Egerton MS. 2074, f. 12; Off. Ret. Members of Parl.; Acts of Privy Council, x. 385, xiv. 256, 262, 285; Hamilton Papers, ii. 655, 674; Chamberlain's Letters and Leycester Corresp. (Camd. Soc.); Corresp. of Sir Henry Unton (Roxburghe Club); Teulet's Papiers d'État (Bannatyne Club), ii. 654; Birch's Mem. vol. ii.; Collins's Sydney Papers; Spedding's Bacon, i. 268; Wright's Elizabeth, vol. ii.; Strype's Works; Foster's Gray's Inn Reg. and Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Simms's Bibl. Staffordiensis.]