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Shirleys of West Grinstead
Sussex England


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The manor of West Grinstead, the crown manor, was granted to Thomas West, Lord de la Warr on the accession of Henry VII and retained for only 3 years. Before the year 1504 the manor had passed to Sir Henry Roos who bequesthed it to his wife Matilda. After her death in 1511, the manor devolved to his grandchild, Elizabeth, daughter of Marmaduke Gorges, then wife of Thomas Shirley

8(i). Thomas Shirley, esq of West Grinstead, Sussex son of Ralph Shirley esq of Staunton Harold Leicestershire and Wiston Sussex and wife Jane Bellingham; He died 30 January 1545 at West Grinstead, Sussex

1557 PCC Will of Thomas Sherley of West Grinstead Esq . Henry the 8th 26. to church of West Grenstead, to church of Weston, church of Horsington, church of Lansing, church of Burton, church of Asshehurst, church of Shepley, church of Northurste, to son William lands in Slaugham called Slutt and lands bought of cosyn Bellows when 21. If 30 and no issue then to son Francis when he is 21, to son Francis place of Grenestead, to William at 24 farm of Bodington, to Isabell St John, to my daughter Dorthe to her marriage, to daughter Blanche to her marriage, to John my ladd, my brother Lyster, brother Bray, and son Browne overseers. With codicil. Wit: Mr. Henry Browne esq. Mr. Francis Sherley gent, John Fletcher Clarke, Thomas psnne of Slaugham, Thomas Peper with others (see full transcript of will)

1544 - Thomas Shirley esq of West Grinsted Sussex. Died 28 Apr 1544. Son Francis Shirley esq age 21 and more- Sussex Post Mortem Inquisitions 1485-1649

married Elizabeth Gorges dau of Marmaduke Gorges alias Russell of Horsington, South Cheriton and Hatherley in the parish of Maperton, Somerset. Her sister, Matilda, married Edward Ludlow, Esq. She died about 1573.

6 Nov 1573 Eliz Shirley West Grin Co Suss widow , to son Francis Shirley d.b.n.a. by William Shirley admor., also dec. "Nulla bona" declared - Estate Administrations from the PCC


9(i). Francis Shirley, esq of West Grinstead Sussex b about 1523 d. 20 March 1577/8. Buried 29 March 1577 West Grinstead Sussex. inherited the manor of West Grinstead in 1549. [See full Post Mortem Inq record at the bottom of this page]

Francis Shirley was son of Sir Thomas Shirley of West Grinstead (second son of Ralph Shirley, of Wiston, who died 1545), by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Marmaduko Georges alias Russell, of Gloucestershire. The Manor of West Grinstead was granted to him in 1549 on the attainder of Thomas. Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudley, to whom it had been granted in fee farm in the first year of Edward VI. He was Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1574. Little else has been preserved concerning him, but it appears in Edward the VI.'s reign he had a difficulty with Lord la Warre concerning certain land called Estcourt, said to be parcel of the Manor of Kneppe, but really belonging io West Grinstead. In the reign of Elizabeth we find him Lessee of the " Chappil House or Seller " on the south side of Bramber Bridge, with the land adjoining, granted to him by the College of St. Mary Magdalene at Oxford, for a term of 50 years.

Francis Shirley died March 1577/8, seized of Boddington, Howe Court, and West Grinstead in Sussex, and of Hatherley in Somerset ; and left a son, Thomas, then 22 years of age. He was buried at West Grinstead, 24th March, 1577, by the side of his wife, Barbara, who pre-deceased him and was buried 28th February, 1563, both burials being recorded in the Registers. (Stemmata Shirlieana)

1578 - Francis Shirley esq. Died 20 Mar 1578. Heir son Thomas esq age 21 and more- Sussex Post Mortem Inquisitions 1485-1649

married Barbara Blount she was buried 28 Feb 1563 at West Grinstead Sussex


10(i). Thomas Shirley, esq. of West Grinstead Sussex born 1555 d. 1606; an extreme Calvanist; the indebted Thomas Shirley of West Grinstead who, a strong puritan, died in debt in 1606 yet willed a bequest to help deprived clergy Inherited the manor of West Grinstead

1606 PCC Will of Thomas Sherly of West Grinstead, Sussex, esquire - 12 May 1606 - to be buried in my chancell in the church of West Grinstead next unto the place where my father hath. I give and bequeath unto Cisily Sherly my daughter. bequeath unto Barbary Sherly my youngest daughter my farme unto of late in the occupation of John Spatchurk. Unto my aunt Blanche Newman 40 shillings per year. My cousin Elizabeth Baker. Two daughters executors. Overseer my uncle Richard Blunt esq of Deadsene in Sussex and my cosen Anthony Sherly esq of Preston in Sussex. No probate.

1607 PCC Sentence of Thomas Shirley of West Grinstead, Sussex. - Cecilia Snellinge als Sherley wife of George Snelling daughter adn exutrix of Thomas Sherley. [Challenged by] Phillippa Sherley relict of Thomas Sherley deceased, Richard Sherley brother, and Elizabeth Wiborne als Sherley sister and Richard Blunt. Executrixes of the will were Cecile Snelling als Sherley and Barbara Sherley. John Amye, Thomas Talbott, Thomas Edwarde, Blanche Jesoppe, Legnn Decrexibe, Johnanna Burroughe, Edward Saye, Jacob Jrland and William Milbunrye notary.16 May 1607 PROB 11/109

1606 - Thomas Shirley esq of West Grinstead. Inquest dated 31 Aug 1606. Died 20 May last. Coheirs Cecily and Barbara - Sussex Post Mortem Inquisitions 1485-1649

married 1) Elizabeth_______ She was buried 4 Sept 1582 at West Grinstead Sussex

married 2) Phillipe Caryle She was mentioned in the 1607 will sentence of husband Thomas Shirley. She was buried 15 June 1614 at West Grinstead Sussex


11(i). Cecily Shirley - mentioned in the 1607 will sentence of father Thomas Shirley; she was buried 2 Nov 1628 at West Grinstead Sussex. She married 1) Sir George Snelling at St Helen's Bishopgate 12 July 1606. He was buried at West Grinstead 16 Apr 1617. She married 2) William Blunt. co-heiress the manor of West Grinstead

At the death of Thomas Shirley in 1606 the manor passed to his daughters and coheirs Cecily, wife of Sir George Snelling, and Barbara. Cecily had apparently acquired her sister's interest by 1612, and after Sir George's death in 1617 the manor passed to his son and heir Shirley, who still had an interest in it in 1637. By the following year it had passed to the Caryll family, since the manorial chapel in West Grinstead church was said in that year to belong to 'the old lady Caryll', evidently Margaret, widow of Sir Thomas Caryll of Bentons in Shipley.

11(ii). Barbara Shirley - mentioned in the 1607 will sentence of father Thomas Shirley; She married 1) Sir Thomas Thornhurst; She married 2) Anthony St Leger co-heiress the manor of West Grinstead

10(ii). Richard Shirley bapt 1 Sept 1558 West Grinstead, Sussex. died young (before 1564)

10(iii). Francis Shirley b______buried at West Grinstead 14 March 1559

10(iv). Katharina Sherlye chr 1 September 1560 at West Grinstead (no parents named)

10(v). Dorethea Sherlye chr 5 July 1561 at West Grinstead, Sussex to Francisci Sherl- (duplicate, see below. Is father incorrectly stated?) buried 23 December 1564 at West Grinstead Sussex

10(vi). William Shirley b______buried at West Grinstead 12 April 1568

10(vii). Richard Shirley, gent. b______ mentioned in the 1607 will sentence of brother Thomas Shirley. Buried 28 Feb 1614 at West Grinstead Sussex. (any children?)

married Catherine Bell a widow of Old Shorham in 1595. Her will was probated 1631.

1595 Aug. 2 Richard SHERLEY of Westgrinsted, gent., & Catherine BELL of Old Shorham, widow : sureties, said R. S. and Richard Scisson of Shorham, clerk. - Bishop of Chichester, Archdeaconry of Lewis, Sussex Marriage Licenses

1631 Shurley, Katherine of Old Shorham wid 11 Sep 1631, Oct 8 1631 155-103 - Sussex Archdeconry Wills at Lewis

10(viii). Elizabeth Shirley - mentioned in the 1607 will sentence of brother Thomas Shirley. She married ____ Wiborne

10(ix). Phillipa Shirley chr 31 Jan 1591 West Grinstead Sussex, son (sic) of Francis Shirley

10(x). Barbara Sherley chr 4 June 1588 at West Grinstead Sussex (no parents named?)

9(ii). William Shirley b. _____ - mentioned in 1557 will of father Thomas Shirley; apparently dead before 1573 since he was replaced as the administrator of his mother Elizabeth's estate.

[no date] William Sherley of Westgrnested in County of Sussex vs Frances Sherley of same [estate dispute] of father Thomas Sherley, named wife and mother Elizabeth Sherley executrix in Will. Asks for depositions from Frances Sherley, John Grabett, Wm Marston, Stephen Camp, John Gachmonk and Thomas Mathews. [this is an original document at the PRO] - Chancery Records at the PRO

9(iii). Mabel/Isabel Shirley (listed as Isabell Shirley in Sussex Visitation)

9(iv). Eleanor Shirley, She married 1) Henry Browne (his 3rd wife), eldest son of Sir Mathew Browne, Knt. of Betchworth Castle, in Surrey. He died testate 1549. She married 2) William Sackville, sewer of the chamber

9(v). Elizabeth Shirley buried 1582 West Grinstead, Sussex

9(vi). Dorothy Shirley - bapt 5 July 1561 West Grinstead Sussex; mentioned in 1557 will of father Thomas Shirley; not named in Sussex Visitation (doesn't make sense). Buried 24 July 1565 at West Grinstead, Sussex

9(vii). Blanche Shirley- mentioned in 1557 will of father Thomas Shirley. Mentioned in 1606 will of brother Thomas Shirley; not named in Sussex Visitation; She married _____Newman

9(viii). Joane Shirley - listed in Sussex Visitation


Francis Sherley, esquire.

Died; 24 March, 20th Elizabeth (1578). Son and heir; Thomas Sherley esq.; age, 21 and upwards.

Inq : at Lewes. 9 September 20th Elizabeth.

Jurors; John Tuppyn John Frend Richard Colvell Richard Ersey John Smyth of Mousecombe Thomas Amoore Richard Cooke Thomas Maynarde, John Holter Peter Crane Paul Cheale Henry Hawle John Ampleford John Inkersall.

Francis Sherley was seised t>f the manor of Bodington in Wyston ; and of a messuage and certain lands and tenements called Courtlandes containing 70 acres of land in Westgrensted ; and of certain lands and tenements in Westgrensted called Paynes Feyldes containing 26 acres ; and of a tenement containing 40 acres of land called Tucknames in Westgrensted; and of a capital messuage and 4 other messuages 4 woods 1 water-mill 2 pigeon-houses 500 acres of land 100 acres of meadow 500 acres of pasture 200 acres of wood and 100 acres of heath and brushwood called Westgrensted House the Parke Whytfeyld Spoles Feyldes Pypers Scoriers Herlandfeyldes Herland meades Fales Fales meades Hosecroftes Fullers Poyntelles Bokers Westlandes Lewkenors and Porters; and of a messuage and a garden in Horseham; and of 2 messuages 2 gardens 1 croft containing 15£ acres of land in Launcynge; and of a burgage in Steynynge; and of the manor of Hatherley 2 tofts 300 acres of land 100 acres of meadow 200 acres of pasture in Maberton in Somerset.

The manor of Bodington is held of Queen in chief by service of the sixteenth part of a knight's fee ; and is worth £6. 13. 4. Courtlandes and Paynes Feyldes are held of the Queen in chief by service of the fiftieth part of a knight's fee; and are worth 36s. 8d. Tucknams is held of the Queen in chief by service of the hundredth part of a knight's fee ; and is worth 8s. A part of the messuages &c in Westgrinsted is held of Philip Earl of Surrey as of his Honor of Bramber by fealty and by what other services they do not know; another part is held of William West, knight, Lord La Warre as of his manor of Somptinge Welde by fealty and by what other services they do not know ; and the remainder is held of Thomas Browne, knight, as of his manor of Chauncketon by fealty and by what other services they do not know; and the whole is worth £10. The messuage in Horseham is held of the Queen as of her manor of Westgrenewyche in free socage and not in chief by fealty only; and is worth 6s. 8d. The 2 messuages &c in Launcynge are held of the Queen as of her manor of Howcourt in free socage and not in chief by fealty and by what other services they do not know ; and are worth 16s. 8d. The burgage in Steynynge is held of Philip Earl of Surrey as of his borough of Steynynge in free burgage by fealty and by what other services they do not know ; and is worth 6s. 8d. The manor of Hatherley is held of the Queen by service of the sixth part of a knight's fee ; and is worth £6. 13. 4.

(C vol 183 No. 65; W. L vol 20, p. 54.)

SHIRLEY, Francis (c.1524-78), of West Grinstead, Suss.
Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982

Family and Education

b. c.1524, 1st s. of Thomas Shirley of West Grinstead by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Marmaduke Gorges alias Russell of Gloucester, Glos. m. by 1555, Barbara, da. of Sir Richard Blount of Mapledurham, Oxon. and Dedisham, Suss., 2s. inc. Thomas† 2da. suc. fa. 28 Apr. 1544.1
Offices Held

Collector of customs, Southampton, Hants in 1553-4; j.p. Suss. 1564-d.; sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1573-4.2

According to the inquisition taken on his father’s lands in January 1545 Francis Shirley was then of age, yet in May 1546 it was as ‘a minor in the King’s hands’ that he was granted custody of Buddington manor in Wiston, Sussex, and his own wardship and marriage. In view of his mother’s suppression of his father’s will his age may have been misrepresented in 1545 in an effort to safeguard his interest. When she died in August 1557 Francis Shirley was a prisoner in the Fleet for a debt to the crown of £507 shared by Henry Carey, James Hardwick of Derbyshire, and Henry Peckham but he had instructed his wife and servants to enter the West Grinstead house and lands, which his mother had retained; they did so, and his wife sold some plate to maintain the household. His brother William Shirley, as administrator of their mother’s estate, then took the dispute to Chancery and at the same time sued the constable of West Grinstead and two of Francis Shirley’s servants in the Star Chamber for theft and violence, but Francis Shirley was to remain in possession of West Grinstead for the rest of his life. Among his other conflicts was one with the 9th Lord la Warr in 1552 over the title to East Court, a house in West Grinstead, which Shirley defended by force at the cost of a reprimand from the Council but which (Sir) Richard Sackville II as official arbitrator awarded to la Warr. Shirley’s conduct in this episode and his attempt to evict a Steyning merchant from 50 acres of land in Wiston may exemplify a disposition to lawlessness which could account for his exclusion from county administration until after the accession of Elizabeth.3

If la Warr had not died in 1554 Shirley would scarcely have been returned to the Parliament of the following year, for both the Shoreham seats in that of April 1554, the last to be summoned before la Warr’s death, had gone to his nominees. Although Shirley’s father had held property in the borough and his own lands at Wiston were not far away, Shirley was himself almost certainly a nominee, his name and Thomas Hogan’s being inserted on the indenture probably in the same hand. With the 3rd Duke of Norfolk in his grave and his grandson a minor, the patron is hard to identify, but the dead duke’s follower John Covert was sheriff and his brother George Covert had been a servant of la Warr. La Warr’s nephew William West, who was claiming the title, was another possible patron; Shirley’s father-in-law Sir Richard Blount, who had sat for Steyning in March 1553 but was out of favour under Mary, is unlikely to have wielded any influence. It was to be Shirley’s only spell in the Commons and all that is known of it is that he was not among the Members who voted against one of the government’s bills. He was, indeed, returned for Bramber to Elizabeth’s first Parliament but on 26 Jan. 1559 (three days after the Parliament had met) ‘that pretended return’ was revoked by the town in a letter which announced the election of Robert Buxton and Sir Henry Gates. It is more likely that the patron, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, had changed his mind than that there was an election contest.4

Before he died on 24 Mar. 1578 Shirley had attained the Sussex bench and served a term as sheriff. His heir Thomas, aged 23, inherited the manor of Buddington, the house at West Grinstead, lands in Horsham, Lancing and Steyning, and a manor in Somerset. Shirley is not known to have left a will, but in his own will of 1606 Thomas Shirley was to ask for a monument to be raised to his parents and grandparents in West Grinstead church, which appears not to have been done.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. J.W. Swales


1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/183/63, amended by LP Hen. VIII, xxi. Suss. Arch. Colls. v. 11.
2. SP12/74, f. 106v.
3. C1/1355/39, 1471/21-25; E111/1/56; Suss. Rec. Soc. xvi. 91-93; Barbican House, Lewes, Knole ms cal. Kn. 1/8; SP10/14/62; APC, iv. 121.
4. C219/24/162; Loseley Pk. Loseley letters, box I, no. 6.
5. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 131, 263; APC, viii. 350; Suss. Rec. Soc. iii. 112; PCC 3 Hudleston.

SHIRLEY, Thomas (by 1489-1544), of West Grinstead, Suss.
Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982

Family and Education

b. by 1489, yr. s. of Ralph Shirley of Wiston, and bro. of Sir Richard. m. Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Marmaduke Gorges alias Russell of Gloucester, Glos., 2s. inc. Francis 4da.1
Offices Held

J.p. Suss. 1524-d.; commr. subsidy 1524, sewers 1534, tenths of spiritualities 1535; collector of customs, Southampton by 1542-d.2

Thomas Shirley, who inherited lands in Buckinghamshire as well as at Beeding and Broadwater in Sussex, founded a branch of the family at West Grinstead. In 1510 he acquired the wardship and marriage of Elizabeth and Maud Gorges, and he afterwards married Elizabeth. Nine years later he shared the wardship and marriage of Francis Dawtrey, heir of Sir John Dawtrey, Shirley’s predecessor in his customs post. For the subsidy of 1524 he was assessed at £40 in lands and £66 13s.4d. in goods.3

Shirley’s Membership of the Parliament of 1529 was doubtless the work of his elder brother Sir Richard, whose home was not far from Steyning and who in 1529 obtained his own election as one of the knights for Sussex. The names of both appear on a list compiled by Cromwell on the back of a letter of December 1534 and thought to be of Members connected, perhaps as a committee, with the treasons bill then on its passage through Parliament. Shirley was probably re-elected in 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the return of the previous Members, and he may have been so again in 1539, when the names of the Members for Steyning are lost.4

On 26 Oct. 1535 he and Thomas Michell obtained a 60-year lease of lands belonging to Rusper priory. Shortly before his death Shirley bought some former monastic property in Grinstead, Shoreham, Steyning and Wiston. He made his will on 21 Sept. 1534, some two weeks before the opening of the seventh session of the Parliament of 1529. After several small bequests to local churches, he provided for his wife, children, kinsmen and servants and named his wife executrix and Sir Edward Bray, his ‘son’ Henry Browne and Richard Lister supervisors. Almost ten years later, on 28 Apr. 1544, he added a codicil devising his recently acquired property on his two sons and died the same day. His widow suppressed the will and took all his goods (valued at £600) into her hands. She also refused to honour his debts, including one of £52 owed to John Michell II from the profits taken of his lands during his minority. In August 1557 Elizabeth Shirley died intestate and William, her second son, was appointed to administer his father’s will and his mother’s estate, itself valued at £200. Thus Thomas Shirley’s will was not proved until September 1557.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. J.W. Swales


1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Comber, Suss. Genealogies (Lewes), 260.
2. LP Hen. VIII, iv, v, vii, viii, xix; E122/209/3; Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi. 59.
3. D. W. Davies, Elizabethans Errant, 1-3; Suss. Arch. Colls. v. 10 seq.; LP Hen. VIII, i-iii; Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi. 59.
4. LP Hen. VIII, vii. 1522(ii) citing SP1/87, f. 106v.
5. Ibid. x, xii, xvii; PCC 34 Wrastley; Suss. Rec. Soc. xvi. 91-92; C1/1142/84; 142/75/67.


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