Shirley Family of Grantham and Caistor
Lincolnshire, Notable Windsor Chairmakers
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This Lineage Last Reviewed April 2020
William Shirley
born about 1757, age 54 at time of death on 14 September 1811; Occupation: chairmaker of Grantham Lincolnshire

September 28 1811 Death Duty Register - Administration letter of William Shirley of Grantham, Lincolnshire. Proved in the Court of Lincoln. IR 26/367/198

married Mary Bulleck on 29 June 1789 at Grantham Lincolnshire, age about 80 in 1841 census household of son William Shirley


1(i). Francis Shirley chr 8 April 1790 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Mary Shirley. He died 10 April 1790

1(ii). William Shirley chr 6 May 1793 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Mary Shirley. Apprenticed to John Taylor, a maker of windsor chairs at Grantham. Made freeman of Grantham in 1815. Occupation: Chairmaker. Enumerated in Grantham in 1841 census. He moved and became a chairmaker at St Martins Birmingham, Warwickshire in 1851 census.

married Charolotte _____ She was born in Okeover Rutland according to 1851 census


2(i). William Shirley chr 20 June 1817 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Charlotte Shirley, age about 22 in 1841 census of Grantham Lincolnshire. Occupation: chairmaker. He moved to Caistor Lincolnshire by about 1843 rate book entry. Enumerated at Caistor Lincolnshire in 1881 census, age 64, occupation: chair maker; He died in Caistor 24 December 1889 at Caistor Lincolnshire

"[William Shirley] was baptised at Grantham on 27th June 1817 and was born into a chair making family. His father was William Snr who had served his apprenticeship under another Windsor chair maker in Grantham , John Taylor , and was made a Freeman of the borough in 1815 . An advert appeared in the Stamford Murcury in June 1815 where William Snr seeks an apprentice to join him, describing himself as a maker of Windsor , Turn-pin and Fancy chair and spinning wheel maker. A few chairs , both Windsor and side , have been found with 'Shirley Grantham' impressed on the upper rear of the seat .

It seems likely that William Jnr would have done his apprenticeship under the guidance of his father while living in Grantham , probably being freed in 1838 . He is noted as working as a chairmaker and living in Grantham in the census of 1841 .However 2 years later he is recorded in the Rate book of Caistor renting a house, garden and (work) shop from the widow Shadford, presumably making chairs. How and why he went to Caistor remains a mystery but at some after his father leaves Grantham as in the 1851 census he is recorded as working as a chairmaker in Birmingham .

Within a year or two of arriving in Caistor he takes on his landlord’s son , John Shadford , as his apprentice; a position he occupies for over 14 years .The length of his apprenticeship may be explained by him being born completely deaf . The 1851 census indicates that the business has grown as he has two apprentice chairmakers with him, one is his younger brother Frederick (15) and another called John Young (16).

In 1859 when John Shadford is preparing the wording for his business in his notebook he explains that he is to occupy the workshop vacated by his former master. Perhaps it is at this time that William Shirley builds his own workshop. We are so fortunate to have B & W pictures of the building showing the water wheel at the side of the building driven by water channelled from one of the springs in Caistor .

In the chairmaking tradition at Caistor William Shirley has always been overshadowed by John Shadford and his famous notebook but it is most likely that he produced far more chairs than Shadford ever did . The 1861 census tells us that he is employing 2 men and 3 boys in his chairmaking business while Shadford is noted as working alone. What the relationship was between these two men we may never know , but they lived very close to each other in fine houses in Duck street and would have seen each other every day if they so wished .

The census of 1871 describes him as a chair manufacturer with his son Alfred (26) as a chairmaker in the same house . Also almost next door is his brother Frederick (35) with his family , also called a chairmaker . The last mention of him is in the census of 1881 when he is once again described as a chairmaker employing 3 men . So the business was still surviving after nearly 40 years from leaving Grantham and in that time he and his business must have made many thousands of chairs . The pattern of these chairs has not been completely established as no advert or sales leaflet has yet been found but a high back Windsor and a ‘ Grecian’ side chair with the stamp of SHIRLEY have been consigned from a house close to Caistor to the local saleroom and must have been made by him . Other chairs with just the SHIRLEY stamp ( but without the GRANTHAM ) are known to exist .

He died in Caistor just after Christmas in 1889 . In his will he appoints his son Alfred as executor and he leaves everything to his wife Hannah . His estate included his dwelling house with a garden and a bath-house . There were some adjoining out buildings plus some thatched cottages ." Posted to Flickr page with photo

Also, more here

1890 September 15 Administration (with the Will) of the Personal Estate of William Shirley late of Caistor in the County of Lincoln Chairmaker who died 24 December 1889 at Caistor was granted at Lincoln to Stephen Parkinson Lill of Owersby in the said County Farmer and Timber Merchant a Creditor. dated 12 Apr 1887 L120 - WILLS/1890/ii/609

married Hannah Clarke on 23 April 1838. She died in 1867

1838 Apr 23 William Shirley chairmaker of Grantham s/o Willam Shirley chairmaker married Hannah Clark of Grantham, s/o Mathew Clark


3(i). Emma Shirley born about 1839, age 2 in 1841 census. She married Charles Henry Willerton on 26 December 1860 at Caistor Lincolnshire

3(ii). Eliza Shirley born about 1841, age 0 in 1841 census. She married William Wilson on 18 August 1861 at Caister Lincolnshire

3(iii). Louisa Shirley born about 1843, age 8 in 1851 census.

3(iv). Alfred Shirley born about 1845, age 26 in parent's 1871 census, chairmaker, age 36 in father's 1881 census household, single. He was a vistor in the household of (1st cousin by marriage) David Young in the 1911 Sculcoats Parish Yorkshire census, occupation chair maker, age 65, single

big gap in births

2(ii). Charlotte Shirley chr 13 Dec 1830 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Charlotte Shirley, age 11 in 1841 census

2(iii). Jane Shirley chr 26 Apr 1833 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Charlotte Shirley, age 9 in 1841 census. She was as domestic servant in the Forrest household in 1851 Edbaston Worcester census

2(iv). Frederick Shirley chr 5 October 1835 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Charlotte Shirley; Lived with brother William Shirley in Caistor Lincolnshire in 1851 census, age 15 as "brother"; He and his wife Hannah and child (age 0) were vistors in the William Matthews household at Limber Magna Lincolnshire, age 25 in 1861, and simultaneously enumerated at Caistor Lincolshire; Enumerated as chairmaker in 1871 census of Caistor Lincolnshire; He had moved to Sculcoates parish Yorkshire by 1881 census, age 45, occupation: chair maker ; Enumerated at Sculcoates Yorkshire in 1891 census, age 55; His "grandson" Frederick Shirley, age 10, was in the household (who is his Shirley father?); He died 1898 at Sculcoates parish Yorkshire

married 1) Hannah _____ in 1858

married 2) Sarah Gray in 1867 in Caistor Lincolnshire


3(i). Charlotte Elizabeth Shirley born about 1861, age 0 in 1861 census, age 10 in 1871 She married David Young in 1880 (civil records) at Sculcoats Yorkshire

1(iii). Francis Shirley chr 27 July 1794 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Mary Shirley

1(iv). Elizabeth Shirley chr 6 January 1796 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Mary Shirley; died 22 February 1796

1(v). Mary Shirley chr 11 July 1801 at Grantham Lincolnshire to William and Mary Shirley

Grantham St Wulfram

1771 Mar 1 Samuel Shirley age 21 victualer of Grantham married Ann Asquith; Wit Benj Offord, John Scarborough by lic
1789 June 29 William Shirley bach of Grantham married Mary Bullock; Wit John Morris, Wm Marshall
1798 Aug 27 Lettice Shirley, spin of Grantham married John ?Jagus of Little Gonerby Linc; Wit: Mary Asquith, Thos Palmer
1815 May 15 John Shirley bach of Grantham married Sarah Lane spin of Grantham; Wit Wm Marshall, L. Freer
1821 Dec 29 Sarah Shirley widow of Grantham married James Thompson widower of Grantham
1838 Apr 23 William Shirley chairmaker of Grantham s/o Willam Shirley chairmaker married Hannah Clark of Grantham, s/o Mathew Clark
5 june 1842 Eliza Shirley of Grantham d/o John Shirley, a huntsman married John William Jevons a reporter of Leeds, s/o Richard Jevons, a hatter. Wit: John Shirley Sarah Shirley (bride underage)

1780 May 5 Ann Shirley wife of ____Shirley buried
1790 Apr 10 Francis Shirley buried, son of William and Mary Shirley, infant
1794 Aug 14 Francis Shirley buried, infant
1796 Feb 22 Elizabeth Shirley buried, infant
1811 Sep 14 William Shirley buried, age 54
1820 Oct 10 John Shirley, born 1776 buried
1843 Mary Shirley, born 1765 buried, widow
1849 John Shirley of L. Gonerby, born 1783, buried

1790 Apr 8 Francis Shirley chr to William and Mary Shirley
1793 May 6 William Shirley chr to William and Mary Shirley
1794 Jul 27 Francis Shirley chr to William and Mary Shirley
1801 Jul 11 Mary Shirley chr to William and Mary Shirley of Spittlegate
1804 Nov 11 Mary Shirley chr to Hannah Shirley, illeg.
20 Jun 1817 William Shirley chr to Wm. Shirley and Charlotte; chairmaker
13 Dec 1830 Charlotte Shirley chr to Wm. Shirley and Charlotte
26 Apr 1833 Jane Shirley chr to Wm. Shirley and Charlotte
05 Oct 1835 Frederick Shirley chr to Wm. Shirley and Charlotte
6 Feb 1839 Emma Shirley chr to Wm and Hannah Shirley; chairmaker
27 Oct 1840 Eliza Shirley chr to Wm and Hannah Shirley of Grantham; chairmaker


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