Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Question from Elizabeth M - Children of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham


Can anyone tell me about the children of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham? In particular, I am asking about a woman named Margaret Stafford, who was executed in 1537 for treason. I have seen in some places she was the Duke's daughter, and thus a sister to the Duke of Norfolk's wife, Elizabeth Stafford Howard, but other places do not credit her as a daughter of the Duke. Does anyone know for sure?



15 Comments:

Blogger Foose said...

She is listed as a daughter of Buckingham on the genealogy site Tudorplace.com.ar. But you might check out a book called "Saxon Survivors" by Peter Davison on Google Books. It discusses Margaret and her husband extensively, citing the alternate descriptions of her as the illegitimate daughter of Buckingham and the illegitimate daughter of Henry Stafford. I am not familiar with this author, but he has a keen interest in the subject of the Bulmer family and goes into Margaret's career rather extensively, citing respected secondary sources. (I looked for the book on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, as it was published in 2007, but it is listed in both cases as "unavailable," rather disappointingly.)

June 18, 2008 5:50 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

There's nothing conclusive, but the evidence points to Buckingham being her father. The Tudorplace site lists the birthdates of Buckingham's other children as closely grouped in 1494, 1495, 1499 and 1501; but Margaret's birthdate is significantly isolated some years later, in 1511.

Henry Stafford, also suggested as her father, could be either Buckingham's brother, who seems to have had no children (he was Earl of Wiltshire before Thomas Boleyn), or his son, but the son is disqualifid by his age -- just 10 in 1511.

She does seem to be illegitimate; Eleanor Percy, the Duchess, would have been about 41 when Margaret was born if her approximate birthdate (1470) is correct, making it unlikely (but not impossible) that she was her mother. Her sisters seem to have all have had peers for husbands, while Margaret got Sir John Bulmer, which indicates she did not have the same social standing. She was executed at Tyburn rather than in the aristocratic environs of Tower Hill.

Interestingly, a couple of genealogical sites indicate she was stepdaughter-in-law to Joan Bulmer, Catherine Howard's nemesis.

Thank you for bringing this person to my attention -- she sounds very interesting!

June 19, 2008 12:52 PM  
Blogger Eternal said...

Buckingham married Lady Alianore (Eleanor) Percy, daughter of the 4th Earl of Northumberland. They had four children:

1. Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford, who later recovered some of the forfeited estates.
2. Elizabeth, who married the 3rd Duke of Norfolk
3. Catherine, who married the 4th Earl of Westmorland
4. Mary, who married the 5th Baron Bergavenny

June 19, 2008 1:00 PM  
Blogger Eternal said...

Tudor place says: Margaret STAFFORD

Born: ABT 1511, Wilton, Cleveland, Yorkshire, England

Died: 25 May 1537, Tyburn, Westminster, Middlesex, England

Notes: executed for her part in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Father: Edward STAFFORD (3° D. Buckingham)

Mother: Eleanor PERCY (D. Buckingham)

Married 1: William CHENEY

Married 2: John BULMER (Sir Knight) (b. ABT 1490, Kirleatham, Yorkshire, England - d. 25 Aug 1537, Smithfield, Middlesex, England) (son of Sir William Bulmer and Margery Conyers) (w. of Anne Bigod) 1534

Children:

1. Martha BULMER

2. Francis BULMER

3. Anne BULMER

4. John BULMER (b. 1536 - d. 6 Feb 1608)

hope this helps!
http://www.guru-goddess.com

June 19, 2008 1:04 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

I have two sources that say Elizabeth Stafford was 15 years old when she married Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, in 1512, months after the death of his forst wife, Anne of York. This would put Elizabeth Stafford's birth year as 1497. Since she was the eldest daughter, this would move forward the birth years of her younger siblings, making the year 1511 more plausible for the birth of Margaret Stafford.
As regards Margaret becoming the wife of a mere knight, could it be possible that that was all she could get after the disgrace of her father? Noble families were unlikely to be enthused about marrying their male heir to the younger daughter of an attainted and executed traitor, whereas her sisters had been married to noblemen before the fall of the Duke and when he still enjoyed considerable influence.
perhaps the stigma of her father's attainder influenced the place and method of her execution.

June 19, 2008 7:40 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I also thought about the fact that the three eldest sisters were all married before 1521, the year of Buckingham's execution, whereas Margaret was not married until 1534. Although clearly the Staffords would have had reason to lie low and avoid conspicuous marriages, and although some of the better matrimonial partis might have been scared off -- still, the man who married Margaret would still have been brother-in-law to Norfolk, Lord Bergavenny and the Earl of Westmoreland, and related by marriage to the Percys, all valuable connections, so I think she could have done better if legitimate. Also, there was always the consideration that the lands and honors of even attainted traitors might ultimately be restored to their heirs.

The execution at Tyburn is also not ironclad evidence of her illegitimacy but Lord Darcy was executed on Tower Hill and you would think that Norfolk (who crushed the rising), if only for the honor of his family, might have arranged for his sister-in-law to get an aristocratic execution rather than being burned alive at Smithfield (sorry, my mistake, not Tyburn). If she was baseborn, he might not have considered it essential. But I admit this is only speculation...

June 19, 2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

In Wriothesley's chronicle, she is described as "Margaret Cheyney otherwise Lady Bulmer" and in Hall's chronicle as "Sir John Bulmer and his wife, which some reported was not his wife but his paramour." Curiouser and curiouser. Could she have been married before, to a Cheyney?

June 19, 2008 9:50 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

Ah, but maybe Norfolk did not want to be seen as favoring a member of his family who was so closely involved with the Pilgrimage of Grace. He certainly had no scruples in helping to send his two nieces, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard to the block, telling Anne that she would either be burned or beheaded as the "king's Pleasure shall be further known." So maybe it was the King's pleasure that Margaret should burn, and Norfolk just went along with it.

June 19, 2008 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting discussion! I first became aware of Margaret while reading a fictional novel about her life...and that was years ago. At the end, she is dispatched at Tyburn, which I figured was true to her story.

This is a bit off the subject, but is there an easy way to keep track of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc folks who hold a dukedom? The only way I could place this particular Duke of Buckingham was in the context of this question. I could place him in my mind as the duke who met the axeman courtesy of Henry VIII.

June 20, 2008 11:39 AM  
Blogger Foose said...

Elizabeth, you're probably right about Norfolk's motivation; from what I've read so far, Margaret was continually spewing insults and threats against Norfolk during the Pilgrimage of Grace, reviling him for not saving her father. Plus, Margaret being savagely burned at the stake might have been a soothing psychological substitute for the fate Norfolk would have wished for his own wife, her sister ...

Regarding her marriage, maybe one way to explore if she was legitimate but rendered "downmarket" by her father's execution would be to look at comparable peers executed for treason and the matrimonial careers of their children, particularly the girls. It's difficult; the children of the Countess of Salisbury and Lord Darcy were already married when their parents were executed, for example. The Earl of Surrey's children might provide a guide, but they seem to have married during the 1550s, when Henry VIII was dead and the Howards were restored to favor. Maybe someone reading this knows of a good comparable case?

Anonymous, I have to say I share your difficulties with numeric descriptions of peers -- "the 5th duke," etc. I apprehend the identity of the individual usually by some mention of who they're married to. Or by their execution, like you.

June 20, 2008 6:44 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

Does anyone have copies of two books--one by Barbara harris on Edward Stafford, and the other by Carole Rawcliffe on the Stafford family? Those would undoubtedly have quite a bit of information. Or has anyone seen inexpensive copies. Found some on the net, but they are out of my price range.

June 21, 2008 9:28 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

I founs an essay on the web entitled Historical Notes on the Bulmer Family and the Pilgrimage of Grace, and in it, it says that Margaret Stafford is a natural daughter of Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, which must be a synonym for illegitimate. It mentions Elizabeth Howard as being her half-sister, and that despite being a bastard daughter, she held a certain amount of affection and respect for her father.

June 29, 2008 4:51 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I'm going to see if I can hunt down my Rawcliffe and Harris books this holiday weekend. I did find Harris' book on "English Aristocratic Women."

In one of the chapters it said "in the early 16th century" the Duke of Buckingham had x number of servants for his "four children." Which might indicate that Margaret was not considered part of the ducal household, i.e. legitimate. Or it might indicate that she was not born yet. It all depends on what the "early 16th century" is, and hopefully her other book on Edward Stafford might clarify matters.

June 30, 2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I have exhumed my copies of Barbara Harris' "Edward Stafford" and Carole Rawcliffe's "The Staffords." Unfortunately, they're rather disappointing when it comes to Margaret. Neither book lists her independently in the index, under the surnames Stafford, Cheyne[y] or Bulmer.

Both books describe the Duke's legitimate children as consisting only of his son Lord Stafford and the three daughters Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary, and feature genealogical charts listing those four children and no others. Harris' only reference to [possibly] Margaret is: "[The Duke] had three illegimate children -- two sons and a daughter. He provided for the daughter by purchasing a royal ward from Henry VIII and contracting the two in marriage."

Rawcliffe, used as a source for the Harris book, states "[The Duke]was no less anxious that his illegitimate daughter should do well for herself and planned her betrothal to Thomas Fitzgerald,the Earl of Kildare's son and heir... he had spent over 430 pounds on a match never destined to take place."

If this illegitimate daughter is Margaret, then he had planned she would have much the same social status as her sisters. Presumably the high-status betrothal was broken when the Duke fell from favor, but there is no further remark in either Rawcliffe or Harris.

It's too bad these books don't have more, but from what I've seen all mentions of Margaret Stafford/Cheyne/Bulmer in period records are tantalizingly fragmentary and in some ways contradictory. It's not definitive that the Lady Bulmer burned at the stake was even married to Bulmer (although her "father-in-law" was implicated in Buckingham's fall, as the Duke retained him illegally in 1520 and brought Henry's wrath openly down on his head) or was Buckingham's daughter. Perhaps the Harris and Rawcliffe works may be updated and reissued, or some other scholar will investigate this family mystery further.

Thanks, Elizabeth M, this has been fascinating and will continue to be so!

July 03, 2008 4:21 PM  
Blogger Foose said...

I've gotten hold of a book by Sharon Jansen, a respected historian, called "Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior," from 1996. It looks at the cases of several women charged with treason in Tudor times. The book has two chapters on Margaret Stafford/Cheyne[y]/Bulmer. On the question of her identity, Jansen writes:

"While her parentage is uncertain, what has been suggested about her family ties is notable: she has been most consistently identified as the daughter of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, who is known to have had at least one illegitimate daughter ... Since Sir John Bulmer's father, William, had been one of Buckingham's loyal supporters, Sir John might well have become acquainted with Margaret during the time his father served the duke."

Again, not absolutely conclusive and of course neither Harris nor Rawcliffe identify the illegitimate daughter by name. But here's Jansen's position on Margaret's background, as she explains why she got the full penalty of treason, unlike other women of gentle blood also involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace:

"I would argue that Margaret Cheyne was arrested for treason and execution not because she lacked family connections but, rather, because of those family connections ...

"Margaret Cheyne may have been illegitimate, but, if she was Buckingham's daughter, as seems probable, she had royal blood in her veins and, through her father, connetions with the most influential -- and potentially dangerous-- families of the north.

"Through her father and grandfather Margaret .. had a family history of treason ..." So basically she was made an example of because she was Buckingham's daughter, with the king recalling his old animus against her father and exacting the full penalty.

Jansen's book seems to be the most recent scholarly effort on Margaret. But a lot of scholars and feminists are taking a renewed look at women's history, so there could be more discussion of her origins, activities and arrest in the future. Her being carbonized at Smithfield makes exact DNA matches out of the question, alas.

July 22, 2008 5:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home