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Motto: Souvente me Souvene
Badge: Stafford Knot, Argent. (taken from Ms. 2nd M.16, College of Arms)
Standard: St George in the hoist. Field: Sable over Gules, a bordure company sable and gules. Badges, A Swan, wings extended argent, beaked and footed gules with a crown and chain about the neck, Or. Stafford Knots, Argent. Motto: Souvente Me Souvene, Argent.
Retinue:

Sir Robert Vaughan of Tretower Court

Sir Nicholas Latimer (after 1475)

Career:

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, was born 4 September in Abergaveny, Monmouthshire, and grandson to the 1st Duke.

Henry became a member of the King’s Household after his wardship was purchased by Edward IV in 1464 with half of the Bohun Estates appropriated into the Crown Property.

He was quickly betrothed to Elizabeth Woodville’s younger sister Katherine whom he married in May 1465, aged only 11. Buckingham never forgave Elizabeth for forcing him into marriage and as his resentment grew it extended, not only to his wife but the whole Woodville clan.

In August 1465 he entered the Queen’s Household with the King granting £500.00 per annum for his upkeep along with the services of a tutor, John Giles, who was tasked to teach the young Duke grammar.

At Elizabeth’s coronation he was recognized as the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and created a Knight of the Bath. At the same time his brother, Humphrey was created Viscount Lisle and the new Earl of Oxford.

In 1468 he attended Lord Scales at the Grand Tournament against the Bastard of Burgundy along with his uncle, Henry, Lord Stafford.

On 21 May 1471 he participated in Edward IV’s triumphant entry into London after his success at the Battle of Tewkesbury and was present at the Christmas celebrations at Westminster in December that year.

In the autumn of 1472, a lavish banquet was held in the Queen’s Bedchamber at Windsor Castle to celebrate the visit of Louis de Gruthuyse, the Burgundian noble that had supported Edward IV during his brief exile in 1470. The Gruthuyses sat at the head table with the King and Queen along with Buckingham and his wife, the Kings sister and his six year old daughter Princess Elizabeth. Dancing followed the meal during which Buckingham partnering Princess Elizabeth.

Henry was made a Knight of the Garter in 1474 and the same year was granted license to quarter the Stafford Arms with the Royal Arms.

In 1475 The “Duc off Bokynghm” was part of Edward IV army in France. The Tellers’ Rolls indicate he took with him 4 knights, 40 men-at-arms and 400 archers. The Rolls notes that he “went home”.

On 15 January 1478 Buckingham took a prominent role in the wedding Edward’s youngest son, Richard, Duke of York at St Stephens Chapel, Westminster and later that year the King became godfather to Buckingham’s first born son, Edward giving the infant a gold cup as a christening present.

On 7 February 1478 Buckingham replaced Richard, Duke of Gloucester as Seneschal of England and in that capacity he pronounced the death sentence upon George, Duke of Clarence the following day.

On the 14 April 1483 Buckingham, resident at Brecknock Castle, Brecon heard the news that Edward IV’s had died on 9 April. A week later, Buckingham received correspondence from the Duke of Gloucester, now Lord Protector, advising Buckingham that he was now in York and complaining “of the insult done to him by the ignoble family of the Queen.

In response to Gloucester’s letter Buckingham immediately despatched his most trusted agent, Humphrey Persivall, to deliver to the Duke of Gloucester his promise that he would support any plan that Richard may have “with a thousand good fellows if need were”.

York City Records show that Gloucester departed the city on 24 April, the same day as the young Edward V, his Governor, Lord Rivers and a 2000 strong escort departed from Ludlow Castle bound for London.

Having missed Gloucester in York, Persivall finally caught up with the Gloucester in Nottingham (civic records show Richard was in the city on 26 April) and after delivering his masters message, Pursivall was ordered to return to the Duke “on the road” to request that they combine forces in Northampton. Gloucester then dispatched messengers to intercept Edward V informing the King of the need to “join together” in Northampton so as “to enter London all the more magnificently.

On 24 April Buckingham rode out of Brecknock Castle long with 300 heavily armed retainers.

By 29 April, Gloucester and Buckingham, having met earlier that day north of Northampton, rode into the city along with a combined force of 600 men. With no sign of Edward the two Duke’s, assuming that they had arrived first, took up lodgings within separate Inn’s.

At some point in the evening, Lord Rivers and Sir Richard Grey arrived and apologetically explained to Gloucester that, on the urging of the Queen Mother, the Royal Party had bypassed Northampton and rode on towards London finally halting at the Rose and Crown Inn (which survives to this day) in Stoney Stratford, some 14miles further south.

On Gloucester urging, Rivers and Grey remained in Northampton and took up lodgings in a third inn, all four then dined together as guests of the Lord Protector. After Rivers and Grey retired for the night, Gloucester and Buckingham remained in deep conversation until dawn. Moving swiftly, they had Rivers was arrested and locked within his room then along with Richard Grey, who was unaware of Rivers arrest, rode swiftly toward Stoney Straford.

On arrival they found Edward IV and his escort mounted and ready to depart. After paying homage to the young King the two Dukes two informed him of River’s “treason” and arrest and swiftly followed this by arresting Richard Grey, Sir Richard Haute and Thomas Vaughan, all of whom would be later executed without trial at Pontefract Castle on 24 June.

Buckingham and Gloucester then returned to Northampton with the bewildered King and dined in a “most celebratory manner”

The two Dukes spent several days consolidating their position and informing the Lord Mayor and Alderman of London of how they had “rescued” the King from traitors. They finally left Northampton on the morning of 3 May and after pausing overnight in St Albans entered London on Sunday 4 May.

By now the Queen had heard of Gloucester actions and fearing for her safety she fled into Santuary at Westminster Abbey with her youngest son, Richard Duke of York.

On arrival in London, Gloucester had Edward IV initially lodged at Bishop’s Palace but on 19 May he was transferred, supposedly on the advice of Buckingham, to the Royal Apartments within The Tower.

With his position of Lord Protector secure Gloucester slowly began assigning the principle offices of the Government to his own supporters while all the time putting on a grand display of assisting Edward IV in planning his coronation. At the same time he also began to take steps to extend his power as Protector beyond the coronation.

Buckingham, as Gloucester’s chief supporter, was amply rewarded for his support. On 15 May he was rewarded with

Chamberlain of England

 

Justiciar (Chief Justice) and Chamberlain of North and South Wales and able to appoint the sheriffs, eschaetors and all other officers of the Principality.
Constable of all royal castles in Wales, the Welsh Marches and the counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.
Commission of Array for Wales, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire

Gloucester had is son betrothed his son to Buckingham’s eldest daughter and there are also indications that he promised to settle the disputed Bohun Estate in Buckingham’s favour.

In early June, Buckingham was tasked with sounding out the loyalty of the Senior Council members by Gloucester who was particularly anxious to “know the mind of Lord Hastings”. His intrigue complete, Buckingham warned Gloucester that there was much opposition to the Duke’s attempts to extend his protectorate and further that Hastings’ loyalty to Edward V was unwavering.

On Friday 13 June, Buckingam was present at a Council Meeting within the Tower which had been convened to discuss the coronation arrangements for Edward V. At 9.00 am Gloucester arrived and after a brief amiable conversation accused Hastings of treason; Buckingham then had Hastings dragged into the courtyard below and beheaded. Gloucester then had several other members of the Council, including Lord Stanley, Archbishop Rotherham and Bishop Edmund Morton, arrested.

The following day Buckingham had all of Hastings’ retainers transfer their allegiance him and followed this up by having Dr Morton transferred, under house arrest, to his principle residence at Brecknock Castle.

On 16 June a delegation led by Buckingham, along with eight boat loads of soldiers, called on the Queen in Sanctuary at Westminster. There they bullied her into giving up Richard, Duke of York who quickly joined his brother in the Tower.

On Saturday 21 June news reached London that 6000 troops from the estates of Gloucester and Buckingham had been summoned and were on the march to London.

By 22 June sermons were being preached claiming that Edward IV marriage was invalid and that two Princes’ were illegitimate. The sermon went further and claimed that both Edward IV and George, Duke of Clarence were illegitimate stating that only Gloucester had a rightful claim on the throne

On 24 June Buckingham attended the Guildhall and gave a “notable” public speech extolling Richard’s virtues, condemning the Woodville clan and urging the citizens to take Richard as rightful King. At the end of the speech there was deadly silence whereupon Buckingham’s men threw their hats in the air shouting “King Richard, King Richard!”

The following day Buckingham presented a petition to Parliament detailing Richard’s claim to the crown. After much deliberation Parliament declared Edward V illegitimate and on 26 June 1483 a delegation, headed by Buckingham, Lord Howard, the Mayor and leading Aldermen, formally asked Gloucester to assume the Crown.

On 28 June, Buckingham was appointed Great Chamberlain of England

At Richard’s Coronation on 6 July 1483, Buckingham took responsibility for the offerings made by Richard during the service and bore the King’s train with “a white staff in his hand”.

On 13 July a provisional Grant naming Buckingham as the rightful heir to the disputed Bohun inheritance was issued by Richard III. However, it was issued with a caveat that the Grant needed to be ratified by Parliament, something which would prove not to be forthcoming.

On 15 July, Buckingham was appointed Lord High Constable of England and Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall.

On 22 July, and with rumours circulating that the two young Princes were dead, Richard III departed London on his Royal Progress. Conflicting accounts describe Buckingham either accompanying Richard, remaining in London or resident at Brecknock Castle on that day. However all agree that on 2 August Buckingham was with the King at Gloucester and that the following day; some say after a furious row, he at once rode out along with the members of his retinue bound for Brecon.

Somewhere on the road between Worcester and Bridgenorth, Buckingham had a chance encounter with his aunt, Margaret Beaufort who was on pilgrimage to Worcester. The two spent a while in conversation before parting.

For reasons unknown Buckingham, who may also have had his eye on the throne, began conspiring with Dr Morton in support of Buckingham's second-cousin, Henry Tudor. Morton quickly advised Margaret of the Duke’s intention who promptly sent Reginald Bray, Lord Henry Stafford’s old retainer, to Brittany advising her son of Buckingham’s support.

On 17 August, Richard, now in Leicester, discovered that John Welles, Margaret Beaufort’s half-brother was plotting with Tudor. He immediately ordered 2000 “Welsh Bills” from Nicolas Spicer and then wrote to Buckingham, unaware that his erstwhile supporter was also embroiled in the plot, instructing him to head “commissions into treason in London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent”.

Richard appears unaware of Buckingham’s betrayal as late as 16 September as on this date he issued writs to the Receivers of North and South Wales directing them to pay their accounts to the Duke.

On 23 August Buckingham, now resident at Brecknock Castle, passed an order under his signet to the keeper of the park at Chilton Foliat to deliver a buck to John Isbury.

On 22 September, Bishop Woodville, one of the plotters, wrote to the Abbot of Hyde from Thornbury Castle, Gloucestershire, one of Buckingham’s principle castles. The letter was intercepted by Richard’s spies and the King now began to suspect Buckingham of being involved in the conspiracy.

On 24 September, Buckingham wrote to Tudor informing of the date of the rebellion. The plan was that the men of Kent were to raise standards and make a feint attack upon London in order to draw the King in their direction. There was then to be simultaneous uprisings, in Wiltshire, Berkshire and the West Country. Buckingham was then to cross the River Severn and meet up with Henry Tudor along with 5000 Breton mercenaries, in Devon. They would then to march upon London.

By 11 October the full extent of the plot had been uncovered by Richard who was now in Lincoln. He ordered that a general muster take place at Leicester and also sent word to Humphrey Stafford of Grafton ordering him to seize and destroy all the bridges crossing the Upper Severn. On 12 October he dictated the following letter to his Chancellor, Bishop John Russell.

“We would most gladly that ye came yourself if you may, and if ye may not, we pray you not to fail, but to accomplish in all diligence our said commandment, to send our seal incontinent upon the sight hereof, as we trust you, with such as you trust and the officers pertaining to attend with it, praying you to ascertain us of your news. Here, loved be God, is all well and truly determined, and for to resist the malice of him that had best cause to be true, the Duke of Buckingham, the most untrue creature living; whom with God's grace we shall not be long till that we will be in those parts, and subdue his malice. We assure you there was never false traitor better purveyed for, as this bearer, Gloucester, shall show you”.

On the same day Richard wrote to the Mayor and citizens of York declaring Buckingham as “a vile traitor“.

On 18 October 1483, Buckingham, accompanied by Dr Morton, raised his standard at Brecon and marched east toward Weobly and England. However the rebellion soon fell into disarray with much of the promised support failing to materialise and the refusal of Lord Stanley and other principal nobles to become involved.

Support amongst Buckingham’s own followers was also lacking with a case in point being that of Sir Robert Vaughan of Tretower Court. Vaughan, a tenant of the Duke, held a deep loathing for the Tudors, his father having been executed by Jasper Tudor in 1471. Vaughan avoided the muster and then promptly ransacked Breckon Castle after the Duke had departed.

The King left Lincoln on the 16 October bound for Leicester and his northern levies. He was in Grantham on the 19th, Coventry on the 24th and Oxford by the 28th.

The weather continued to deteriorate, Tudor unable to set sail was still in Breton waters on 30 October, and Buckingham's army found themselves fighting for survival as rivers broke their banks and roads turned into quagmires. Half drowned the reluctant army (Buckingham was disliked by his tenants and renowned as a “sore and hard-dealing man”) deserted. Disguised as a simple labourer he fled north to Shropshire and went into hiding at Lacon Hall, Wem near the house of one of his retainers, Ralph Bannaster.

Tempted by the £1000.00 reward on Buckingham’s head, Bannaster betrayed the Duke who was arrested on or around 28 October by the Sheriff of Shropshire. Buckingham was then taken to the King, arriving in Salisbury on Saturday 1 November 1483. Richard refused to see him and after a summary trial Buckingham was convicted of treason and executed the following day in the market square outside the Blue Boar Inn.

Tudor, unaware of the fate of Buckingham and with his fleet decimated by the storms in the channel, reached Plymouth Harbour with only two ships during the first week of November. As he lay in the harbour he was hailed by soldiers on the shore claiming that they were Buckingham's men and that he should land. Henry sent a small boat a shore to investigate but its officer returned recommending caution. Henry immediately bade his ship-master to set sail for Brittany.

Sir Nicholas Latimer, one of Buckingham’s retainers survived, was attained for treason but pardoned. Other person mentioned in the attainder associated with the Brecon sector of the rebellion include, Dr Morton, Sir William Knyvet, John Rushe and Thomas Nandik (necromancer)

Buckingham’s widow, Catherine, subsequently married Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford.

Buckingham and Catherine had two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Edward (b.1478) later became 3rd Duke but was executed for treason in 1521 by Henry VIII. His younger son, Henry (b.1479) became the 3rd Earl of Wiltshire in 1499 after the death of his cousin’s, the 2nd Earl.

Ms. 2nd M.16 records Henry Stafford, 3rd Earl of Whiltshire as adopting a white Stafford Knot badge charged with red crescents. He died in 1521.

Buckingham’s claim to the Crown

Three of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham's four grandparents were descended from Edward III of England:

Buckingham's paternal grandfather was Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was the grandson and senior descendant of Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III.
Buckingham's paternal grandmother Anne Neville was a granddaughter of John of Gaunt through his daughter Joan Beaufort, making her a great-granddaughter of Edward III
Buckingham's maternal grandfather Edmund Beaufort was a grandson of John of Gaunt, the youngest son of his son John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Buckingham's maternal grandmother Eleanor Beauchamp was descended from a daughter of William Marshal but not from Edward III.
Buckingham's grandparents Anne Neville and Edmund Beaufort were also first cousins for their respective parents Joan Beaufort and John Beaufort who were sister and brother.