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Stafford, John

Stafford, John (d.1452). Archbishop of Canterbury. The illegitimate son of Sir Humphrey Stafford of Southwick (Wilts.), Stafford was an Oxford doctor of civil law by 1413. Like John Kemp, he entered Henry V's service after a short career in the court of Canterbury and was his last keeper of the privy seal. While treasurer of England (1422–6), he became bishop of Bath and Wells in 1424 and was advanced to the archbishopric in 1443. As a protégé of Cardinal Beaufort, he was appointed chancellor in 1432. He held the office for eighteen years, latterly as one of the small coterie of councillors headed by the duke of Suffolk ( William de la Pole); he resigned when Suffolk was banished. It is likely that he was rarely seen in his Kentish diocese, where the rebels in 1450 called him ‘the devil's shepherd’.

R. L. Storey

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