Although the Stafford’s of Hooke had previously branched away from the main Stafford bloodline at a very early date, Sir John Stafford of this line married Margaret Stafford, daughter of the 1st Earl of Stafford.
Their eldest son obtained the Manor of Hooke by marriage and fathered two sons of which the youngest was grandfather of Humphrey Stafford
Humphrey appears to have initially remained loyal to Henry VI at the outbreak of the civil war and in November 1459 he accompanied the Duke of Somerset along with 1000 men on an attack on the Calais Pale, at that time under the control of the Earl of Warwick, in response to a Yorkist raid on Sandwich. The Lancastrian’s succeeded in capturing Guisnes Castle and throughout the winter of 1459/1460 Somerset and Warwick conducted their own private war in France. In January 1460 Stafford and Lord Audley were captured by Warwick and imprisoned in Calais and by May, Somerset was forced to flee Guisnes and return to England.
Remarkably, Humphrey Stafford now appears to have switched his allegiance to Warwick and accompanied him when the Duke returns to England in June 1460 in support of York’s new offensive. Stafford subsequently fought under the Ragged Staff at Northampton (July 1460), the 2nd battle of St Albans (February 1461), where he was wounded, and at the battle of Towton (March 1461) where he was knighted
Humphrey’s brother, John, was also present at Northampton but used the opportunity to hunt down and slay a Lancastrian knight, Sir William Lucy for purely personal gain. On hearing the fighting, Lucy, who lived near Northampton, had quickly hastened to the King’s aid, arriving as the rout was in progress. Stafford, who had been having an affair with Lucy’s wife, seized his opportunity and killed his love rival.John Stafford was subsequently killed at Towton
As reward for his support, Edward IV granted Sir Humphrey the title of Lord Stafford of Southwick in July 1461 and he was further advanced to the Earldom of Devon on the 7 May 1469 following the execution of the Lancastrian Earl.
In 1469 Warwick, frustrated with his declining influence over Edward IV resorted to arms to restore his position and orchestrated a rising against the King under Robin of Redesdale (Sir William Conyers). Edward’s response was to summon the Earl of Pembroke, accompanied by the 12 year old Henry Tudor, and the Earl of Devon to Nottingham.
The two Yorkist forces, who had joined up somewhere near Northampton, encountered the rebels on 25 July and after a brief but bloody skirmish, in which they came off worst, they withdrew to Banbury.
In Banbury an extraordinary argument broke out between the two Earls over their lodgings. Pembroke had Devon ejected from an inn where he had settled “for the love of a damosell that dwelled in the house” and contrary to an agreement they had that they should respect each other’s choice of accommodation. Devon went off in a rage taking his 7000 archers with him.
That evening, the rebels attacked Pembroke but where repulsed and the next morning Pembroke moved his force some three miles toward Edgecote and attacked the rebels. Despite his lack of archers Pembroke was on the point of victory until rebel reinforcements, sent by Warwick arrived on the field. Pembroke was now left hopelessly outnumbered and unable to maintain a continuous battle line his forces routed and Pembroke was captured and beheaded.
On hearing of the arrival of Warwick’s forces Devon, who had been marching in support of Pembroke, withdrew his force but he was arrested in Somerset the next day and beheaded at Bridgewater.
In a strange twist of fate, Henry Tudor only narrowly escaped being killed in the rout, spending several days in hiding before being able to rejoin Yorkist forces.