Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/461

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the bishop of Winchester, through whose influence he was elected bishop of Bath and Wells on 12 May 1425. He was consecrated by Beaufort at Blackfriars, London, on 27 May. Stafford now became one of the lords of the council during the king's minority, but resigned his office as treasurer on 13 March 1426, at the same time that Beaufort had to surrender the chancellorship.

Stafford seems to have been reappointed keeper of the privy seal before 11 July 1428, and in this capacity accompanied the young king of France in 1430 (Nicolas, Proc. Privy Council, iii. 310, iv. 29). After his return to England he was made chancellor on 4 March 1432, and retained that office for nearly eighteen years. He is the first holder of the office who is known to have been called ‘lord chancellor’ (cf. Rot. Parl. v. 103). As chancellor Stafford continued his support of Beaufort's policy, but without taking any very marked share in public affairs beyond the duties of his office. He received his reward when the see of Canterbury fell vacant in 1443. Archbishop Chicheley had before his death intended to resign, and recommended Stafford as his successor to the pope. Before the resignation could take effect Chicheley died, and Stafford was appointed to the archbishopric on 13 May 1443. Stafford's experience had made him indispensable, and he retained his office as chancellor after his accession to the primacy. He continued his old political relations and supported William de la Pole, fourth earl of Suffolk [q. v.], in the negotiation of the king's marriage, at which he officiated on 22 April 1445. He took part in the reception of the French embassy in July, and as chancellor replied to the ambassadors in a Latin speech. He was not, however, so zealous in his support of the peace as the king wished, and seems to have endeavoured to hold the balance between the parties of Suffolk and Gloucester (Letters and Papers, Henry VI, i. 92, 104–110, 140; Hook, v. 152–5). Still he continued in office till 31 Jan. 1450, when in the midst of the crisis which attended the fall of Suffolk he resigned the chancery. Stafford does not seem to have shared in Suffolk's unpopularity, and his resignation was perhaps due to the loss of favour with the court. According to Fabyan (Chronicle, p. 623), Stafford accompanied Humphrey, duke of Buckingham, on his mission to endeavour to conciliate Cade on 30 June; but in this, as in a subsequent statement that Stafford as chancellor issued a general pardon a few days later, the chronicler has perhaps confused him with his successor, John Kemp. However, Stafford was certainly on the commission which was appointed on 1 Aug. to try offenders in Kent (Ramsay, ii. 132). In August 1451 Stafford received the king when he came on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. He died at Maidstone on 25 May 1452, and was buried in the martyrdom at Canterbury Cathedral, where his tomb is marked by a marble slab with a brass.

Stafford was engaged in the work of public administration during almost the whole of his career. He was ‘a cautious experienced official’ (Ramsay), whose knowledge made him almost indispensable to the government. Bishop Stubbs (Constitutional History, iii. 148) says of him that ‘if he had done little good he had done no harm.’ Archbishop Chicheley, in recommending Stafford as his successor to the pope, did so on the ground of his ‘high intellectual and moral qualifications, the nobility of his birth, and his own almost boundless hospitality’ (Anglia Sacra, i. 572). Gascoigne, who was hostile to the archbishop, says that Stafford was father of bastard offspring by a nun (Loci e Libro Veritatum, p. 231). Ecclesiastically the most important incident of Stafford's primacy was the beginning of the dispute as to the heresy of Bishop Reginald Pecock. Pecock's teaching gave much offence, but though he forwarded a statement of his doctrine to Stafford in a document styled ‘Abbreviatio Reginaldi Pecock,’ Stafford took no decisive action against him [see art. Pecock, Reginald; Pecock, Repressor of overmuch Blaming of the Clergy, ii. 615].

[Letters and Papers illustrative of the Reign of King Henry VI (Rolls Ser.); Correspondence of T. Bekynton (Rolls Ser.); Fabyan's Chronicle; Nicolas's Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council; Wilkins's Concilia; Ramsay's Lancaster and York; Hook's Archbishops of Canterbury, v. 130–87; Foss's Judges of England; authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.

STAFFORD, JOHN (1728–1800), independent divine, was born at Leicester in August 1728. At first a wool-comber, he in 1749 entered the independent academy at Northampton, where he was prepared for the ministry by Philip Doddridge [q. v.] On the death of the latter, two years later, he went to the academy at Plaisterers' Hall, Addle Street, London, and finished his seven years' course of study under John Conder at Mile End. He now joined the independent church in New Broad Street, under John Guyse [q. v.], and afterwards preached at Royston and St. Neots. In March 1758 he was invited to succeed Guyse, and was ordained pastor on