Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was born 3 February 1478, at Brecon Castle in Wales to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville.
Katherine Woodville was sister to Elizabeth Woodville who became Queen of England after secretly marrying Edward IV.
Edward Stafford had a viable claim to the throne through his paternal grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was the son of Anne of Gloucester, daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Edward III. Some said Buckingham boasted that his claim was stronger than Henry VIII’s since Henry’s father was from the illegitimate line of Edward III through his son, John of Gaunt.
The discussion, or hearsay, began after it became evident that Henry VIII’s queen, Katherine of Aragon would no longer be able to produce a male heir. It was assumed that the Tudor line would die out since a girl (Princess Mary) had not been considered as an heir.
When Henry VIII was informed of the things his royal cousin was “saying” he requested and investigation.
“On April 8, 1521, the duke was ordered to London from his castle at Thornbury. He set out for the court, seemingly unaware of any danger, and was greatly shocked when arrested along the way and taken to the Tower. At his trial, he was charged with ‘imagining and compassing the death of the king’, through seeking out prophecy from a monk named Nicholas Hopkins about the chances of the king having a male heir. Evidence was supposedly obtained from disgruntled former members of the duke’s household.
Buckingham denied all charges. But a jury of 17 peers found him guilty, led by the duke of Norfolk, who condemned him “while weeping.”
Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 – 12 May 1521 – Gasparo Contarini to the Signory:
It is reported from England that the King had ordered the arrest of the Duke of Buckingham, the chief personage in that kingdom, together with two other Knights of the Garter. The real cause is not known, but according to report the Duke had plotted to assassinate Cardinal Wolsey. This the English ambassador denies, though he does not know the reason, affirming merely the fact of the arrest, and that the King had surrendered the Duke for trial by the peers of the realm.
Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 – 13 May 1521 – Gasparo Contarini to the Signory:
The Royal Courts (li eonsegli regj) have condemned the Duke of Buckingham to death. He will be definitively sentenced this morning (13 May) at Westminster, the final sentence having been passed ordering him for decapitation; and he is gone back to the Tower to be executed according to the custom here, and they will do by him as was done by his father and grandfather.
Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526 – 14-17 May 1521 – Lodovico Spinelli, Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in England, to his brother Gasparo Spinelli, Secretary of the Venetian Ambassador in France:
This morning the late Duke of Buckingham was taken ‘in forza de’ brazi‘ from the Tower to the scaffold, at the usual place of execution, with a guard of 500 infantry. He addressed the populace in English. Then on his bended knees he recited the penitential psalms, and with the greatest composure calling the executioner, requested that he would dispatch him quickly, and forgave him; after which he took off his gown, and having had his eyes blindfolded, he laid his neck on the block, and the executioner with a woodman’s axe (fn. 11) severed his head from his body with three strokes.
The corpse was immediately placed in a coffin and carried to the church of the Austin Friars, accompanied by six friars and all the infantry.
The death of the Duke has grieved the city universally. Many wept for him, as did one-third of the spectators, among whom was I. Our Italians had not the heart to see him die. And thus miserably, but with great courage, did he end his days on the 17th of May.
On 17 May 1521, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason.
Scandal of Buckingham Sisters – 1510
A little insight on Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and the scandal of his sisters (Anne & Elizabeth) which caused havoc with the relationship of Edward Stafford and King Henry VIII:
Note: We believe the man referred to as Conton is actually William Compton, friend of Henry VIII.
What lately has happened is that two sisters of the Duke of Buckingham, both married, lived in the palace. The one of them is the favourite of the Queen, and the other, it is said, is much liked by the King, who went after her. Another version is that the love intrigues were not of the King, but of a young man, his favourite, of the name of Conton, who had been the late King’s butler. This Conton carried on the love intrigue, as it is said, for the King, and that is the more credible version, as the King has shown great displeasure at what I am going to tell. The favourite of the Queen has been very anxious in this matter of her sister, and has joined herself with the Duke, her brother, with her husband and her sister’s husband, in order to consult on what should be done in this case. The consequence of the counsel of all the four of them was that, whilst the Duke was in the private apartment of his sister, who was suspected [of intriguing] with the King, Conton came there to talk with her, saw the Duke, who intercepted him, quarrelled with him, and the end of it was that he was severely reproached in many and very hard words. The King was so offended at this that he reprimanded the Duke angrily. The same night the Duke left the palace, and did not enter or return there for some days. At the same time the husband of that lady went away, carried her off, and placed her in a convent sixty miles from here, that no one may see her. The King having understood that all this proceeded from the sister, who is the favourite of the Queen, the day after the one was gone, turned the other out of the palace, and her husband with her. Believing that there were other women in the employment of the favourite, that is to say, such as go about the palace insidiously spying out every unwatched moment, in order to tell the Queen [stories], the King would have liked to turn all of them out, only that it has appeared to him too great a scandal. Afterwards, almost all the court knew that the Queen had been vexed with the King, and the King with her, and thus this storm went on between them. I spoke to the friar about it, and complained that he had not told me this, regretting that the Queen had been annoyed, and saying to him how I thought that the Queen should have acted in this case, and how he, in my opinion, ought to have behaved himself. For in this I think I understand my part, being a married man, and having often treated with married people in similar matters. He contradicted vehemently, which was the same thing as denying what had been officially proclaimed. He told me that those ladies have not gone for anything of the kind, and talked nonsense, and evidently did not believe what he told me. I did not speak more on that subject.”
Family Tree of Edward Stafford and Eleanor Percy:
Mary Stafford (born c. 1495) She married George Neville, 5th Baron Bergavenny. They were the parents of:
- Mary Neville, Baroness Dacre
Elizabeth Stafford (c. 1497 – 30 November 1558). She married Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Together they were the parents of:
- Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
- Lady Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond
- Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Howard of Bindon
- Lady Muriel Howard (died young).
- Lady Katherine Howard
Catherine Stafford (born abt. 1499 – 14 May 1555); She married Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland. They were parents of:
- Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmorland
- Sir Thomas Neville
- Edward Neville
- Christopher Neville
- George Neville
- Ralph Neville
- Cuthbert Neville
- Dorothy Neville
- Mary Neville
- Margaret Neville
- Elizabeth Neville
- Eleanor Neville
- Anne Neville
- Ursula Neville
Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (18 September 1501 – 30 April 1563); He married Ursula Pole, daughter of Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury.
They were parents of:
- Henry Stafford
- Thomas Stafford
- Henry Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford
- Edward Stafford, 3rd Baron Stafford
- Richard Stafford
- Walter Stafford
- William Stafford
- Elizabeth Stafford
- Anne Stafford
- Susan Stafford
- Jane Stafford
- Dorothy Stafford, Lady Stafford
2 daughters whose names are not known
Edward Stafford’s father, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason against Richard III. His mother, Katherine Woodville, married Jasper Tudor. Jasper was the son of Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor. Jasper Tudor was brother of Edmund Tudor – father to Henry VII.
‘Venice: May 1521’, in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526, ed. Rawdon Brown (London, 1869), pp. 119-130. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/venice/vol3/pp119-130.