Lady Douglas Howard Stafford

Death Dec 1608 (aged 72–73)
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 106262368 · View Source
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Lady Douglas Howard, Baroness Sheffield Stafford

Eldest daughter of Sir William Howard, 1st Lord Howard of Effingham and descendant of King Edward I and Margaret Gamage, daughter of Sir Thomas and descendant of Geoffrey Plantagenet. Sir Thomas Howard, Sheriff of Norfolk and Agnes Tilley, Sir Thomas Gamage and Margaret Saint John.

Wife of Sir John Sheffield, son of Sir Edmund Sheffield and Anne Vere. They were married about 1562 and had one son, Sir Edmund, 3rd Lord Sheffield, and one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde.

Lord Sheffield died 10 Dec 1568, and Douglas had an affair with Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Chancellor or Oxford University and Lord Steward of the Household, 5th son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Sir Robert wrote Douglas a letter explaining why they could not marry, including ponderings about their love. "You must think it is some marvellous cause, and toucheth my present state very near, that forceth me thus to be cause almost of the ruin of mine own house ... my brother you see long married and not like to have children, it resteth so now in myself; and yet such occasions is there ... as if I should marry I am sure never to have [the queen's] favour." He goes on to declare his love but that she best marry another suitor.

Their son, Sir Robert, was born in August of 1574, Leicester acknowledged him as a son, took much interest in and educated his son.

Douglas married, as a second wife, on 29 Nov 1579 to Sir Edward Stafford, of Grafton, Staffordshire, son of Sir William Stafford of Chebsey, Staffordshire and his second wife, Dorothy Stafford. They had two sons who both died at an early age. Edward became the ambassador to the court of Henry II of France where Douglas became a special friend to Catherine de Medici.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth, young Sir Robert Dudley openly claimed his father to be Leicester, his uncle the Earl of Warwick, in an attempt to claim both or either title. He had told some influential people his parents had been secretly married, and the case ended up in the famous English court, the Star Chamber, where Douglas swore they married in the winter of 1573, but the court turned down his charges. Sir Edward Stafford would die during the proceedings on 05 Feb 1605.

Douglas died early December 1608 at Westminster, leaving a will that included a black velvet bed for her "honorable and beloved son."

Seventeen years after the death of Sir Robert Dudley, Lady Douglas claimed in court to have had an affair with Sir Robert, Queen Elizabeth's favorite, started very soon after her first husband's death, and her son, the explorer Sir Robert Dudley was his son.

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Lady Douglas Howard Stafford



  • Created by: Anne Shurtleff Stevens
  • Added: 5 Mar 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 106262368
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lady Douglas Howard Stafford (1535–Dec 1608), Find A Grave Memorial no. 106262368, citing St. Margaret's Churchyard, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Anne Shurtleff Stevens (contributor 46947920) .