Born: 1 Oct 1526
Died: 23 Sep 1603/4
Buried: St. Margaret's, Westminster, England
Father: Henry STAFFORD (1° B. Stafford)
Mother: Ursula POLE
Married: William STAFFORD of Grafton (Sir) AFT Jul 1543
1. Edward STAFFORD of Grafton (Sir)
2. John STAFFORD of Marlwood Park (Sir)
3. William STAFFORD
4. Elizabeth STAFFORD
5. Ursula STAFFORD
Dorothy was the youngest daughter of Henry Stafford, Baron Stafford, and Ursula Pole. Sister of Henry and Edward. Through her maternal grandmother, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Dorothy had a claim to the English throne. She lived in the household of her aunt, Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk as a child, as did her sisters Susanna and Jane. Dorothy was the Duchess's favourite niece, to whom she was very generous, giving her many gifts of clothing and money. In 1545, Dorothy married Mary Boleyn’s widower, Sir William Stafford of Grafton and Chibsey, Staffordshire, her distant cousin.
On 23 Sep 1545, Dorothy's husband was knighted in Scotland by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford during a fought by Henry VIII of England, in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between his son Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. It was the last major conflict between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, and was part of the Anglo-Scottish Wars of the 16th century. From that time onward, Dorothy was styled as Lady Stafford.
In Mar 1554, during the reign of Queen Mary I, the family went into exile, settling in Geneva. John Calvin was godfather to their youngest son, John on 4 Jan 1556. After her husband's death, on 5 May 1556, Dorothy left Geneva for Basel, where she remained until Jan of 1559. Over Calvin's objections, she took her children with her.
In 1557, her brother Thomas was convicted of treason and executed for the Stafford´s Raid.
In Jan 1559, following the ascension of Queen Elizabeth I, Dorothy and her children returned to England, where she was received at court. John Calvin had strongly opposed their departure, having wanted to keep his godson in Switzerland.
In 1563, Dorothy was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Elizabeth, and she exercised much influence at the royal court. She used her influence with the Queen to promote the causes of both her friends and casual acquaintances; in 1569, Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, seeking a prebend for a colleague, wrote to Dorothy, requesting that she 'speak some good word' on the matter to the Queen.
In 1576, she broke her leg in a riding accident, but quickly recovered. Two years later, she used her influence to secure the prestigious office of English Ambassador to France for her eldest son, Sir Edward Stafford. Her eldest daughter, Elizabeth was a Lady of the Bedchamber, and her son-in-law, Richard Drake, served as the Queen's Equerry.
When two maids of honor, Elizabeth Brydges and Elizabeth Russell, were banished from the Coffer Chamber for three days, they stayed with Lady Stafford.
Dorothy died on 22 Sep 1604, and was buried in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. Her effigy and monument are in the north aisle of the church. The inscription on her monument reads:
'Here Lyeth the Lady Dorothy Stafford, Wife and Widow to Sir William Stafford, Knight, Daughter to Henry, Lord Stafford, the only son of Edward, the last Duke of Buckingham: Her mother was Ursula, Daughter to the Countesse of Salisbury, the only Daughter to George, Duke of Clarence, Brother to King Edward the Fourth. Shee continued a true Widow from the Age of 27 till her Death. She served Queen Elizabeth 40 Yeeres, lying in the Bedchamber, esteemed of her, loved of all, doing good, all she could, to every Body, never hurt any; a continual Remembrancer of the Suits of the Poor. As she Lived a religious Life, in great Reputation of Honour and Vertue in the World, so she ended in continual fervent Meditation, and hearty Prayer to God. At which Instant, as all her Life, so after her Death, she gave liberally to the Poore, and died aged 78, the 22. of September 1604. In whose Remembrance, Sir Edward Stafford, her sonne, hath caused this Memorial of her to be in the same Forme and Place as she herselfe long since required him.'
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