|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
2nd Duke of 1 (1454-1483), was the son of Humphrey Stafford, killed at the first battle of St Albans in 1455, and grandson of Humphrey the 1st duke (cr. 1444), killed at Northampton in 1460, both fighting for Lancaster. The 1st duke, who bore the title of earl of Buckingham in right of his mother, was the son of Edmund, 5th earl of Stafford, and of Anne, daughter of Thomas, duke [v.04 p.0727]of Gloucester, youngest son of Edward III.; Henry's mother was Margaret, daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd duke of Somerset, grandson of John of Gaunt. Thus he came on both sides of the blood royal, and this, coupled with the vastness of his inheritance, made the young duke's future of importance to Edward IV. He was recognized as duke in 1465, and next year was married to Catherine Woodville, the queen's sister. On reaching manhood he was made a knight of the Garter in 1474, and in 1478 was high steward at the trial of George, duke of Clarence. He had not otherwise filled any position of importance, but his fidelity might seem to have been secured by his marriage. However, after Edward's death, Buckingham was one of the first persons worked upon by Richard, duke of Gloucester. It was through his help that Richard obtained possession of the young king, and he was at once rewarded with the offices of justiciar and chamberlain of North and South Wales, and constable of all the royal castles in the principality and Welsh Marches. In the proceedings which led to the deposition of Edward V. he took a prominent part, and on the 24th of June 1483 he urged the citizens at the Guildhall to take Richard as king, in a speech of much eloquence, "for he was neither unlearned and of nature marvellously well spoken." (More). At Richard's coronation he served as chamberlain, and immediately afterwards was made constable of England and confirmed in his powers in Wales. Richard might well have believed that the duke's support was secured. But early in August Buckingham withdrew from the court to Brecon. He may have thought that he deserved an even greater reward, or possibly had dreams of establishing his own claims to the crown. At all events, at Brecon he fell somewhat easily under the influence of his prisoner, John Morton (q.v.), who induced him to give his support to his cousin Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond. A widespread plot was soon formed, but Richard had early warning, and on the 15th of October, issued a proclamation against Buckingham. Buckingham, as arranged, prepared to enter England with a large force of Welshmen. His advance was stopped by an extraordinary flood on the Severn, his army melted away without striking a blow, and he himself took refuge with a follower, Ralph Bannister, at Lacon Hall, near Wem. The man betrayed him for a large reward, and on the 1st of November, Buckingham was brought to the king at Salisbury. Richard refused to see him, and after a summary trial had him executed next day (2nd of November 1483), though it was a Sunday.
Buckingham's eldest son, Edward (1478-1521), eventually succeeded him as 3rd duke, the attainder being removed in 1485; the second son, Henry, was afterwards earl of Wiltshire. The 3rd duke played an important part as lord high constable at the opening of the reign of Henry VIII., and is introduced into Shakespeare's play of that king, but he fell through his opposition to Wolsey, and in 1521 was condemned for treason and executed (17th of May); the title was then forfeited with his attainder, his only son Henry (1501-1563), who in his father's lifetime was styled earl of Stafford, being, however, given back his estates in 1522, and in 1547 restored in blood by parliament with the title of Baron Stafford, which became extinct in this line with Roger, 5th Baron in 1640. In that year the barony of Stafford was granted to William Howard (1614-1680), who after two months was created Viscount Stafford; he was beheaded in 1680, and his son was created earl of Stafford in 1688, a title which became extinct in 1762; but in 1825 the descent to the barony of 1640 was established, to the satisfaction of the House of Lords, in the person of Sir G.W. Jerningham, in whose family it then continued.
The chief original authorities for the life of the 2nd duke of Buckingham are the Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle; Sir Thomas More's Richard III.; and Fabyan's Chronicle. Amongst modern authorities consult J. Gairdner's Richard III.; and Sir. J. Ramsay's Lancaster and York.
(C. L. K.)