Stanley, Sir John (c.1350–1414), lieutenant of Ireland, was son of William Stanley, of a Cheshire gentry family. John Stanley made a good marriage to Isabel, daughter of Sir Thomas Latham, which brought him extensive lands in Lancashire and formed the basis of his family's future prominence as earls of Derby. His first connection to Ireland came when he was appointed as the lieutenant of Robert de Vere, marquis of Dublin and earl of Oxford, in June 1386, and he acted as chief governor till he left Ireland (November 1387). While in Ireland, Stanley was mainly concerned with the defence of Meath and Leinster and sent Maurice FitzGerald (qv), 4th earl of Kildare, to mediate between the earls of Ormond (qv) and Desmond (qv). After de Vere's fall, Stanley was made justiciar of Ireland and returned to the lordship in October 1389. He proved to be an active chief governor, campaigning in Ulster, Meath, and Munster; but complaints were sent to England about his conduct and he was replaced as justiciar in October 1391.
Stanley returned to Ireland in 1394 in advance of Richard II's (qv) expedition, with orders to survey the king's castles and the power to receive rebels who submitted. He accommodated himself to the usurpation of Henry IV, and was appointed lieutenant of Ireland (10 December 1399); he arrived in Ireland in March 1400 and immediately ratified Richard II's grant of the barony of Norragh to Art MacMurrough (qv). Stanley made his presence felt in all areas of the lordship but was hampered by poor finances, and when he left Ireland (May 1401) his debts were respited for several months till the arrears in his pay arrived. In England he served as the steward of the prince of Wales's household (1403) and was also governor of the city and county of Chester. In 1405 he was steward of the king's household and received a pardon for all debts; he was also granted the lordship of the Isle of Man after it was forfeited by the earl of Northumberland. In 1409 a suggestion was made that he replace Thomas Lancaster as lieutenant of Ireland; though this plan was abandoned, he was made lieutenant of Ireland by Henry V (June 1413), and arrived in Ireland in September 1413. His six-year term of office ended when he died suddenly on 18 January 1414. The Irish annalists attributed his death to his harsh treatment of the Irish and the satires of Niall Ó hUiginn. The Anglo-Irish were less worried about the miraculous nature of the satires than by the fact that Stanley left large debts, which they were still pursuing in 1421.