In the sleepy little village of Lowick in Northamptonshire stands a fine medieval church with a tall octagonal ‘lantern’ tower that bears some similarity to that at Fotheringhay. It is normally kept locked but if you are very, very lucky you can track down the key in the village. There are many fine tomb effigies in this church but the most intriguing one, to me at any rate, belongs to Edward Stafford, 2nd Earl of Wiltshire (not that rather more famous blustery Edward Stafford who lost his head in Henry VIII’s reign.) This lesser known Edward was born in 1470 and died in 1499. His father was John Stafford, third son of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and his wife Anne Neville, who was sister to Cecily Neville, mother of Edward IV and Richard III. Therefore he was a cousin to Henry Stafford, the infamous second Duke, and also a cousin to the Yorkist Kings. Edward Stafford’s mother was Constance Greene, heiress of Henry Greene, from whom he inherited Drayton House, which still stands in Lowick behind a big wall(not open to the public.)
John Stafford, who fought on the Yorkist side at Hexham and was given his title in 1470 by Edward IV, died in 1473 and young Edward went into the care of his grandmother Anne, dowager Duchess of Buckingham. He was made a knight of the Bath in 1475.
After his cousin’s rather spectacular fall from grace and subsequent execution that year, Edward seems to have laid low for a bit, having been granted permission to enter his lands in 1484. He may have been the SMART Stafford…
Later, in Henry Tudor’s reign, he did attend Elizabeth of York’s Coronation and fought the Cornish rebels at Blackheath. In 1488, he entertained Tudor himself at Drayton…but unfortunately, six months later, at the age of only 28, he was dead. He was buried in Lowick church, where his widow joined him within the next five years (date uncertain.) They had no children.
So there were no more Earls of Wiltshire of his immediate lineage, but Edward, the quiet and perhaps somewhat less ambitious and over-confident Stafford, did leave us a very fine tomb with excellent carving.