11 May. He remained minister of New Broad Street till his death forty-two years later. Several years after his ordination he underwent some loss of reputation owing to his having interpreted in favour of himself and his family the terms of a bequest providing for an annual sum to be paid to the minister of New Broad Street for the time being. A court of law decided in his favour on technical grounds, but accompanied the decision with a strong censure on his conduct. He preached for the last time on 6 Oct. 1799. He died at his house in Chiswell Street, Finsbury, on 22 Feb. 1800, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. The inscription on his tomb there says that ‘in refuting error he was skilful, in defending truth bold, in his work as a Christian minister and pastor zealous and faithful.’ His theology was rigidly Calvinistic. Stafford's wife Hannah, also buried in Bunhill Fields, was a daughter of Samuel Blythe. Her five children predeceased both their parents.
Stafford published in 1772, 8vo, with notes critical and explanatory, ‘The Scripture Doctrine of Sin and Grace considered in 25 plain and practical Discourses on the whole 7th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans;’ a second edition, 12mo, appeared in 1773. It is favourably spoken of in John Ryland's ‘Christianæ Militiæ Viaticum,’ and in Edward Williams's ‘Christian Preacher,’ but is termed ‘experimental’ in Bickersteth's ‘Christian Student’ (4th ed., p. 413). Stafford also published ‘A Sermon occasioned by the Death of Elizabeth Stafford [his eldest daughter], with some Anecdotes of her,’ 1774, 8vo; 2nd ed. 1775.
A portrait of Stafford, engraved by Vallance, is dated 1775.
[Wilson's Dissenting Churches, ii. 243–8; Gent. Mag. 1800, i. 286; Allibone's Dict. Engl. Lit. ii. 2218; Lit. Mem. of Living Authors; Evans's Cat. Engr. Portraits.]
STAFFORD, RALPH de, first Earl of Stafford (1299–1372), elder son of Edmund, lord de Stafford (d. 1308), and Margaret, daughter of Ralph, lord Basset (d. 1299), of Drayton, Staffordshire, and granddaughter of Ralph Basset (d. 1265) [q. v.], was born in 1299, being nine years old at his father's death. He had livery of his lands 6 Dec. 1323. Having been made a knight-banneret on 20 Jan. 1327, he served in that and the following year against the Scots. Joining himself to William, lord Montacute (1301–1344) [q. v.], he swore in 1330 to maintain the quarrel of the lords against Roger (IV) de Mortimer, fourth earl of March (1287?–1330) [q. v.] In 1332 he was appointed one of the guardians of the peace for Staffordshire (Cal. Pat. Rolls, p. 276). In April he was about to go beyond sea on the king's business (ib. p. 297), and in the summer took part in the expedition of Edward de Baliol [q. v.] into Scotland, where he served in the ensuing years, being there with his second wife, Margaret, in October 1336. In November of that year he received a summons to parliament, and on 10 Jan. 1337 was appointed steward of the king's household and a privy councillor (Doyle). From 1338 to 1340 he served with the king in Flanders. It is not always easy to be certain about his actions, for Froissart occasionally confuses him with his younger brother, Sir Richard Stafford (see Froissart, iv. 60 and 293, v. 201 and 400, ed. Luce), who in 1337 was sent with others on an embassy to the counts of Hainault and Gueldres, and also to the Emperor Lewis (ib. i. 361, 368), and had a share in the victory of Cadsant (ib. p. 408), and was in 1339 in the king's army at Vironfosse (ib. p. 469). Lord Stafford accompanied Edward on his hurried return to England on 30 Nov. 1340, and was sent by the king to Canterbury with a summons to John de Stratford [q. v.], the archbishop, to appear before him (Fœdera, ii. 1148). In the summer of 1342 he undertook to lead reinforcements to the king's troops in Brittany (ib. p. 1201), and sailed in joint command on 14 Aug. (Murimuth, p. 125). The expedition, of which the Earl of Northampton was in chief command, relieved Brest, and the English, after burning sixty French galleys, landed and overran the country, and, having sent back their ships to England to convey the king, laid siege to Morlaix, and on 30 Sept. defeated Charles of Blois, who marched to its relief. After the king's arrival Stafford took part in the siege of Vannes, and, advancing too eagerly to meet a sally, was taken prisoner, and many of his followers were also taken or slain (Froissart, iii. 25). He was exchanged for Olivier de Clisson, and was one of the English lords who in January 1343 assisted at the arrangement of the truce at Malestroit. On 20 May he was sent with others on an embassy to Clement VI with reference to a peace, and on 1 July to treat with the Flemings and the German princes (Fœdera, ii. 1224, 1227). He also in this year accompanied Henry of Lancaster, earl of Derby (afterwards duke of Lancaster) [q. v.], in an expedition intended for the relief of Lochmaban Castle (Walsingham, i. 254). He took part in the tournament held at Hereford in September 1344.
On 23 Feb. 1345 Stafford was appointed