The town of Stafford began at the place where a road through marshes crosses the River Sow. Stafford means “the landing place at the ford.” A legend tells that a prince called Bertelin settled here before the town existed, in 700AD. He may have been the same person as St Bertram of Ilam.
THE LADY OF THE MERCIANS
The town can trace its beginning to Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred. When her husband Aethelred died in 911 she ruled the united kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia as Lady of the Mercians.
She came from a highly educated family and was a wise and strong ruler. She led the struggle to defeat the Danes who had conquered eastern England. She built defences at Stafford and other towns, and captured Derby from the Vikings in 917.She died in 918.
Though Tamworth was a royal town Stafford became the county town of Staffordshire.
After the Norman Conquest Stafford was the scene of two rebellions. A Battle of Stafford was fought in 1069. The land of the rebel Edwin, Earl of Mercia, was given to King William’s supporters. Stafford Castle was built in 1090. The castle was almost a town in itself, with its own church.
The land of Edwin, Earl of Mercia was given to followers of William the Conqueror, including Robert de Tonei, whose daughter married Orm, the founder of St Chad’s. The town was devastated, but began to grow again after 1100.