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Ralph Stafford, 2nd Baron Stafford, 1st Earl of Stafford, 1301-1372

Also Known as Ralph De Stafford

Born: 24 September 1301

Christened:

Died: 31 August 1372, Tunbridge Castle, Kent

Buried: Tunbridge, Kent

Parents: Edmund Stafford Baron of Stafford, (born 15 July 1272, Clifton, Stafford, England, died 26 August 1308) and Margaret Bassett (born 1280, Drayton, Staffordshire, England, died 17 March 1336/7)

Siblings:

Richard Stafford (born 1302 Tunbridge, Kent, England)

Catherine Stafford (born1304, Tunbridge, Kent, England)

Elizabeth Stafford (born 1305, Drayton, Staffordshire, England)

William Stafford (born 1306, Tunbridge, Kent, England)

Margaret Stafford (born 1306, Drayton, Staffordshire, England)

Humphrey Stafford (born 1308, Tunbridge, Kent, England)

Jacobus Stafford (born 1308, Drayton, Staffordshire, England)

Married 1: 1326

Spouse 1: Katherine Hastang (daughter of Sir John Hastang and Eve)

Offspring 1:

Margaret de Stafford (born about 1326, Staffordshire, England) married Sir John Stafford of Amblech and Bramshill

Joan (born about 1330) married Sir Nicholas Bere

Married 2: Before 6 July 1336

Spouse 2: Margaret Audley (born 1318, died 7 September 1349), daughter of Hugh de Audley Earl of Gloucester

Offspring 2:

Sir Ralph Stafford (born about 1336, died 1348) married (1 November 1344) Maud Plantagenet

Joan/Joane de Stafford (born about 1337, Staffordshire, England, died before 1379) married 1: John de Cherlton/Cherleton 2nd Lord of Powys (died 1374) married 2: Gilbert Talbot, 3rd Lord Talbot

Hugh Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford (born 1342, died 16 October 1386, Rhodes, Greece, of Natural Causes returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem) married (before 1368) Philippa Beauchamp, daughter of Thomas, 3rd Earl of Warwick

Catherine/Katherine de Stafford (born before 1340, Stafford, Staffordshire, England, died 6 December 1361) married (25 December 1357) Sir John de Sutton Lord of Dudley (died 1376)

Elizabeth de Stafford (born about 1340, Staffordshire, England, died 7 August 1375) married 1 (12 March 1346/7): Fulk le Strange, 3rd Lord Blackmere (born about 1300, died 30 August 1349), married 2 (about 1356): Sir John de Ferrers 4th Lord of Chartley (died 2 April 1367) married 3: Reynold de Cobham, 2nd Lord of Sterborough (died about 1403)

Beatrice de Stafford (born about 1342, died 14 April 1415), married 1 (1350): Maurice FitzMaurice Fitz Thomas, 2nd Earl of Desmond (born 31 July 1336, died before 5 June 1388), married 2 (1 January 1358/9): Sir Thomas de Ros, 4th Lord Ros (born 13 January 1336, Stoke Albany, Northampton, England, died 1384), married 3: Sir Richard Burley

Heraldic Coat of Arms: or a chevron gules

Knight of the Garter 1348, Founder Member, Stall 6

On 13 January 1326/7 Ralph was made a knight Banneret. In 1332 Ralph took part in Edward de Baliol's invasion of Scotland. After the death of his first wife, Ralph abducted Margaret Audley from her house in Thaxted when he led an armed raid there. There was an enquiry into the incident on 6 July 1336, and King Edward III seems to have intervened to protect him from Margaret's father, Hugh Audley. Ralph was summoned to Parliament on 29 November 1336, as the 2nd Baron Stafford from 1337 to 1350. In 1337 he was Steward to the Royal Household. Edward III and Ralph knew each other well through many years campaigning together and fighting together in France and returned from France on 29 November 1339. Ralph fought at the Battle of Sluys, 23 June 1340, and in 1342 Ralph took part in the siege of Vannes where he was taken prisoner but was later released in exchange for Olivier de Clisson. In April 1344 Ralph was in Gascony with 3 bannerets, 20 knights, 92 esquires and 90 archers. Ralph was made Seneschal of Aquitaine, 23 Feb 1344/5. By 1343, nine years after abducting Margaret Audley Ralph was sufficiently reconciled with, Hugh Audley that Hugh settled all his wife's property on Ralph. No sooner had this been done than the Castle and Lordship of Caus in Shropshire worth £265 a year passed to him from his grandmother Alice Corbet. When Hugh de Audley died in 1347, among others the manor os Easington in Buckinghamshire, Wells in Norfolk and Yalding became the property of his only child, Margaret. Her husband, Ralph, Earl of Stafford, became the lord of the manor of Yalding.

Between 1338 and 1340 Ralph fought with King Edward III in Flanders. On 26 August, 1346, Ralph took part in the Battle of Crecy where he fought in the King's Division. After the battle Edward III gave Ralph the task of counting the dead. In 1347 Ralph played a prominent role in the siege of Calais. After the French surrendered Calais, Edward III granted Ralph some property in the town. On 6 September 1348 Ralph was granted for life 600 marks per year by Edward III. In 1350 Ralph was present at the naval battle off Winchelsea. Ralph obtained licence in 1350 to make a life grant of the manor of Easington in Buckinghamshire to Edmund Mortayn. Ralph was created 1st Earl of Stafford on 5 March 1351. He served as a military leader under King Edward III, in October 1355 in France, and fighting in campaigns in Scotland, then in Brittany, Franc, where he conducted a brilliant defence of Aiguillon against the French, under Prince John.Ralph fought in August 1360 negotiated with the French and was a party to the Treaty of Brétigny. Ralph fought at the battle of Poitiers in 1356 and as a reward for his part in the victory, Edward granted Ralph land in Ireland. From September 1361 to February 1362 Ralph was in Ireland. In October 1369 Ralph crossed to France with Edward III. He was captured during the Siege of Nantes. He died on 31 August 1372 at Tunbridge Castle, Kent and was valued at £1,432 per annum.

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