Stafford, Anthony (DNB00)


STAFFORD, ANTHONY (1587–1645?), devotional writer, born in 1587, was the fifth and youngest son of Humphry Stafford of Sudbury and Eaton Socon, Bedfordshire, by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Cutts of Childerly, Cambridgeshire. He was descended from the Staffords of Grafton, Worcestershire [see under Stafford, Humphrey, Earl of Devon]. Anthony matriculated as a gentleman commoner at Oriel College, Oxford, on 8 March 1605. In 1606 he also entered as a student at the Inner Temple. At Oxford he soon ‘obtained the name of a good scholar, well read in ancient historians, poets, and other authors,’ and was on 18 July 1623 created M.A. ‘as a person adorned with all kinds of literature.’ In 1609, ‘having then a design to publish certain matters,’ he had been ‘permitted to study in the public library.’ The result of his studies was several theological and devotional treatises, some of which gave great offence to the puritans. The first of these appeared, both in octavo and duodecimo, in 1611, with a dedication to Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, ‘because my father was a neighbour to your father, being much obliged unto him and my whole family unto yourselfe.’ It was in two parts, the first entitled ‘Stafford's Niobe, or his Age of Teares: a Treatise no less profitable and comfortable than the Times damnable. Wherein Death's Vizard is pulled off,’ &c.; the second, ‘Stafford's Niobe dissolved into a Nilus, or his Age drowned in her own Teares … an admonition to a Discontented Romanist.’ This was followed in 1612 by ‘Meditations and Resolutions, Moral, Divine, and Political,’ with which was printed a translation of the Latin oration of Justus Lipsius against calumny. Next came ‘Stafford's Heavenly Dogge, or Life and Death of that Great Cynick Diogenes, whom Laertius stiles Caius Cælestis,’ 1615, 12mo. Stafford's ‘Guide of Honour; or the Ballance wherein she may weigh her actions,’ was described as written by the author ‘in foreign parts,’ but is undated. It was dedicated to George Berkeley, eighth baron Berkeley [q. v.] Other works were: ‘The Day of Salvation, or a Homily upon the Bloody Sacrifice of Christ,’ 1635, 12mo; and ‘Honour and Virtue triumphing over the Grave, exemplified in a fair devout Life and Death, adorned with the surviving perfections of Henry, lord Stafford, lately deceased,’ 1640, annexed to which are divers elegies upon the death of the said lord, mostly written by men of St. John's College, Oxford [see under Stafford, Henry, first Baron Stafford].

But the work of Stafford which attracted most attention was ‘The Female Glory; or the Life and Death of the Virgin Mary,’ 1635, 8vo; otherwise described as ‘The Precedent of Female Perfection.’ It was ‘esteemed egregiously scandalous among the puritans,’ but was licensed by Laud (cf. Laud, Works, vols. vi. and vii.). Henry Burton [q. v.] was censured by the Star-chamber for attacking it in his sermon ‘For God and the King,’ and was answered by Heylyn in his ‘Moderate Answer to Dr. Burton,’ and by Christopher Dow in ‘Innovations unjustly charged.’ It was reprinted in 1860 as ‘Life of the Blessed Virgin,’ very carefully edited by Orby Shipley, together with facsimiles of the original illustrations after Overbeck. In this edition was also printed for the first time ‘The Apology of the Author from ye Aspersions cast uppon it by H. Burton,’ dedicated to Laud and Juxon, which Wood had seen in manuscript in the library of Dr. Thomas Barlow. The only known manuscript copy is in the library of Queen's College, Oxford. Stafford was engaged in a suit before the court of wards in 1641–2 against Lady Anne Farmer and Charles Stafford, from whom he claimed a rent-change and arrears. Wood says he died during the civil wars. He is known to have been living in 1645.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 33, 34n.; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 251; Brit. Mus. Cat.; State Papers, Dom. Ser. (Hamilton), 1640–1 p. 590, 1641–2 pp. 218, 235; Gardiner's Hist. of Engl. 1603–42, viii. 127 n.]

G. Le G. N.