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Sir Thomas Shirley, Antiquarian


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12(iii). Sir Thomas Shirley, antiquarian of Botolph Bridge, Huntingdonshire. Son of Sir George Shirley of Astwell by Frances, dau of Henry Lord Berkeley. He was Knighted at Whitehall in 1622. He was an antiquarian and the creator of the large Shirley pedigree. His M.S. collections are preserved in the British Museum and the library at Queens College, Oxford. He was a Roman Catholic and says he suffered consequence "losses, dishonors, disgraces which were very great, and imprisonment for the love of God". Stemmata says it is more than likely that his estates passed from his name and family before the Restoration. Little has been preserved about his children. Their fates have merged into oblivion which attends the ruined fortunes of this branch of the house of Shirley. Buried at the church of St Peter's, Paul Warf, London 4 Feb 1654

The Shirley's staunch Catholicsim - From: "The English Reformation" - Recounting the history of his family, Sir Thomas Shirley highlighted their sacrifices. His father, George Shirley and his brother Sir Henry Shirley had both practiced occasional conformity attending Anglican services to protect the family's property. Yet they, despite appearances and compromises remained loyal to the faith. Each died according to Sir Thomas in the bosom of the Roman church. Other members were less circumspect. Sir Thomas's uncle died in Flanders fighting against the Dutch Protestants and their English allies. His aunt Elizabeth joined a nunnery at Louvain. His mother, Frances, daughter of Henry Lord Berkeley and his stepmother, Dorothy, widow of Sir Henry Unton, were paragons of Catholic devotion. Sir Thomas' mother Lady Frances, fatally ill in 1595, when he was five, begged her husband to be sure their children were brought up in the Catholic faith. Sir Thomas himself suffered financial loss and imprisonment for that faith.

married Mary Harper daughter of Thomas Harper, Esq. of Rushel, Staffordshire. Dame Mary Shirley was buried at St Margarets, Westminster on Jan 11, 1656/7


13(i). Henry Shirley born about 1622, age 18 on 17 November 1640 when he entered studies at English College Rome Italy. Godson of his uncle Henry Shirley who in his1633 LW&T gave him 500 pounds when he turns 21. After completion of his studies at the English College Rome, on November 5, 1644 Henry entered service to the family of Prince Francis, brother to his Serene Highness, the Duke of Parma.

13(ii). George Shirley apparently alive in 1651. no info

13(iii). John Shirley apparently alive in 1651. no info

13(iv). Francis Shirley named in 1654 petition to Oxfordshire Commissioners

13(v). Captain Thomas Shirley named in 1654 petition to Oxfordshire Commissioners

13(vi). Mary Shirley apparently alive in 1651. no info

13(vii). Anne Shirley named in 1654 petition to Oxfordshire Commissioners

This family is untraced beyond the above generation


Abstracts - Sir Thomas Shirley

Admissions to the Middle Temple

Thomas Shirley 23 June 1613, 2nd son of George of Astwell Northants, knight baronet.


The following manors were settled upon Sir Thomas Shirley by his father, Sir George Shirley, by a deed dated May 20,1615:

Bottle Bridge (or St. Botolphs Bridge), Huntington Co.,
South Newington, Oxford Co.
Dorsington, Gloucester Co.
moriety of manor of Kings Newton, Warwick Co.

Sir Thomas Shirley was Knighted at Whitehall in 1622. He was an antiquarian and the creator of the large Shirley pedigree. His M.S. collections are preserved in the British Museum and the library at Queens College, Oxford. He was a Roman Catholic and says he suffered consequence "losses, dishonors, disgraces which were very great, and imprisonment for the love of God". Stemmata says it is more than likely that his estates passed from his name and family before the Restoration. Little has been preserved about his children. Their fates have merged into oblivion which attends the ruined fortunes of this branch of the house of Shirley.

It appears by several papers that Sir Thomas Shirley mortgaged the manor of Bottle-bridge, in 1637 for 500 pounds to the Lady Penelope Gage, who afterwards married Sir William Harvey, Knight. Sir Thomas, described as a "Popish Recusant", paid neither principal nor interest on this mortgage, "being beyond the sea." Sir Thomas Shirley was at this time in France, as we learn from Dugdale's diary.

Bond of Indebtedness:

Thomas Shirley of Bottle Bridge Hunts, Robert Lovett and Richard Lovett of St Duns Oxon obligation with William Smith Holborn Middlesex yeoman Feb 1639. Wit: John Lyne, John Morgan, John Blount. <sign> Thomas Shirley (PRO eg ch 7303)

Committee for Compounding - Cases 1647-1650

Sir Thomas Shirley, recusant Botolph Bridge Hunts and the Claimants on his estate

21 Jun 1650 Wm Smith of London desires allowance of a judgement by him recovered in the Upper Bench, agst Sir Thomas Shirley, for 300L. debt and 35L costs for which the sheriff of co. Hunts, by elegit, extended the moiety of certain lands of Sir Thomas of which 2/3 were sequestered for his recusancy, before proceedings were taken. Begs the benefit of his extent, or payment of 245L still due.

19 Sept 1651 Sir Thomas Shirley begs 1/3 of the manor of South Newton co Oxon sequestered for his recusancy. Has a wife and 7 children, and no other maintenance. Noted to be allowed if sequestered for recusancy only, but if as a Papist and delinquent 1/5 only.

15 April 1651 He begs payment of the arrears of his third part and that as the county committee have taken the whole profits and are endeavouring to let the 2/3 for seven years to strangers, the committee for compounding would lease it to Francis Smith of Euston

15 Oct 1651 Begs allowance of the 1/3 part of Beeston Botolph Bridge Manor co Hunts, which the county committee refuse with arrears from 24 Dec 1649

15 Oct Granted his 1/3 and the mansion house, if he has no other habitation

11 Nov 1651 Lessees of the Estate: Thomas Pomfret of Falcott Northampton begs a lease for 7 years of 2/3 of the manor of South Newton Oxford sequestered for the recusancy of Sir Thomas Shirley. The estate has been leased to him for a year from Mich 1651 and has been posted and boxed. Has always adhered to the Parliament.

13 Nov 1651 Lessees of the Estate: John Castle of Glatton Hunts begs a 7 year lease of 2/3 of Levett's Manor Botolph Bridge parish Hunts sequestered for recusancy of Sir Thomas Shirley which has been surveyed posted and let to him for 1 year. Would then undertake the charge of repairs.

12 May 1652 Complains that the county committee have leased the 2/3 of his estate for seven years to his great detriment and begs that he may have his chief manor house of Botolph Bridge according to the Act.

12 May 1652 He is to have 1/3 if sequestered only for recusancy and the mansion house if not already allowed and if he have no other.

25 May 1653 Margaret widow and administratrix of James Gibbons petitions that her husbnd 14 years since lent 50L on bond of 100L to Sir Thomas Shirley and in 1640 arrested him on the bond and obtained judgment at law but died before its execution. Hearing that Sir Thomas was beyond the seas she sued 3 years ago for a writ of eligit on his lands at Botolph Bridge worth 60L a year, but soon after they were sequestered for his recusancy. Having no other maintenance for her 3 poor children, begs an order to proceed.

Sept 1653 Sir Thomas was living at his nephew's house at Staunton Herald according to a letter

Sir Thomas "buried Feb 4 1653/4" at St Peters Church Paul's Warf London


Middlesex Session Rolls.

1657 Oct - [note: this date is after the death of Sir Thomas Shirley, probably indicating an old list published in the roll] "List of names and addresses probably of persons who refused to take the oath" [list] Sir Thomas Sherley of St. Pauls Covent Garden knt and Mary Sherley his lady. Thomas Sherley of the same, esq. [note: the son]

Abstracts - All Children

Committee for Compounding - Cases 1647-1650

12 Sept 1654 Anne, Frances, and Thomas, younger children of Sir Thomas Shirley, petition the Protector. They complain that they are denied by the County Committee of Oxford the benefit of their father's settlement aforesaid of 200L. to be raised by Sir Thomas Shirley, Cotton Barrow, and James Ravenscroft, and then the estate was to be for raising their portions. With reference thereon to the committee for compounding.

5 Oct 1654 Claim allowed sequestration discharged, and arrears granted

2 Nov 1654 Ravenscroft to be first satisfied his debt and then the surplus to be paid to the younger children.

20 March 1655 The children beg that their arrears may be paid out of any moneys in the hands of the county commissioner.. County commissioner ordered to pay them such arrears as have not been paid to Ravenscroft.

1654 and 1655. The rents of South Newton (Newington) Oxford which had been sequestered were allowed to the family in Nov 1654 following the death of Sir Thomas Shirley in 1653/4 for the "benefit of his younger children" Oxfordshire Commissioners comment on the distress of the children of Sir Thomas Shirley setting forth payment due to petition to Oliver Cromwell that Mrs Anne Shirley, Francis Shirley and Thomas Shirley be granted funds of South Newton set forth in indenture of Dec 1650.

Victoria County History of Oxfordshire

1663 Manor of South Newington - Two of the younger children of Sir Thomas Shirley, viz Thomas and Anne Shirley sold or mortgaged the manor to Martin Holbech and apparently later sold to Robert French of South Newington dated 1688..

Abstracts - Children: Henry Shirley, esq.


The English College Rome 1622-1685

[In Latin] Shirley, Henry alias Thomas Pelham, son of Sir Thomas and Mary Harpur born at Caludon Castle, Warwickshire; brought up there, at St Omers and in the College of Nobles at Parma,. Son of a mainly heretical family of average wealth; has Catholic brothers and sisters. Studied humanities with average progress. Never a heretic or schismatic. Left England in 1639 and has come to Rome to study; was imprisoned 2 weeks for Catholicism. Has never decided to be an ecclesiastic. 17 November 1640 (Catholic Record Society Vol 55)

We learn from the English College Diary, Rome, that Henry Shirley, after making his humanity studies, passed on to the English College, Rome, for his philosophy, and was admitted as a convictor, in the assumed name of Thomas Pelham, of Huntington, aged eighteen, on November 17, 1640. He left the College for Parma, November 5, 1644 and there entered the family of Prince Francis, brother to his Serene Highness, the Duke of Parma. He was, says the Diary, of an easy disposition, but little inclined for study. On entering the English College he states: "My true name is Henry Shirley; I am son of Sir Thomas Shirley, Kt. , and his wife, Mary Harper. I was born in arce Calydoniensi, Warwickshire, and was brought up and educated partly at my father's house, partly at St. Omer's College, and partly at the College Of the Nobles at Parma. My brothers and sisters are Catholics : my connections are principally heretics. I was always a Catholic, and left England in 1639. I was once in prison for two months for the Catholic faith." - Records of the English province of the Society of Jesus Vol 5

[note: St Omers was a school in Belgium where English youth were sent to obtain Catholic education which was denied them at home.]

[note: Caludon Castle was located at Wyken near Coventry. It was rebuild around 1580 by Henry Lord Berkeley as his principal residence. It is therefore likely Sir Thomas was a retainer of Berkeley in some capacity during that period]

Catholic Record Society (is he the same?)

[In Latin] Henry Shirley alias Gilmet of London. Educated at Seville College. After some years of outstanding work in England chosen by Clergy to be Vice-President and Procurator. Did become Procurator, but not VP, though performed part of that office. Came Sept 21 1634. A pious and peaceable man but, as he often said, not very experienced in worldly affairs; well loved and respected by all. Stayed till 1635, giving way to Edward Elrington. Left by ship for England Aug 4. In his strenuous work in the Lord's vineyard a fine example of apostolic life. Note: Left Seville; passed through Madrid on way to England April 20 1633 (CRS 29, 155) John Southcoted noted that Hargrave and Shirley left for Lisbon Aug 7 1634 (CRS 1, 109) A letter describing his work and spirituality so impressed College that it was transcribed into Liber Missionis and used to inspire young priests about to go to England. I have published it in Mount Carmel , Vol 25 no. 1 (Spring 1977) pp 44-52

"English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century"
The English College at Lisbon was the only institution of higher learning open to Englsh Catholics that was free of Jesuit influence. Father Gilmett (Henry Shirley), one of the secular priests dispatched by Lord Baltimore to replace the Jesuits in Maryland, had been procurator at Lisbon between 1634 and 1636.

"Religion under the Barons of Baltimore"

23 Nov 1642: Letter from Lord Baltimore in London to his brother Leonard Calvert in Maryland. [sending Mr Territt and Mr. Gilmet (Henry Shirley) to Maryland]. ...Mr Territt will acquaint you more particularly with my mind...Mr. Gilmet will I know concur in opinion with him, for upon divers consults had here (before he went) he was well satisfied what might and ought to be done upon such occasion....

Maryland State Archives

Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1636-1647

Vol 3 p 141,142, 143 1644 - [Instructions from Calvert]..that they continue those goods of mine which were formerly put into Mr Gilmetts custody still in his hands as long as he stays in Maryland...; That they allow unto Mr Giles Brent 2 steers yearly out of my stock of neat cattle for his own expence in regard for his care of them, and 2 steers to Mr Gilmet yearly for his expence; That they use their best endeavors to discharge the bargain which was made this year for Mr Copley's house at St Mary's [note: this is the Jesuit chapel house] by letting him have his house and land there again and a reasonable consideration allowed unto him for Mr Gilmetts time of being in it. And I desire that in case Mr Copley will not be contented to let the house to Mr Gilmett till midsommer which shall be 1645 at some such reasonable rent as my sd commissioners shall think fit and that Mr. Gilemetts and his families diet cannot be provided and discharged out of my stock and farm at West St. Mary's without any notable prejudice to the sd take care that some other convenient place there be provided for Mr Gilmetts and Mr Teeritts residence adn diet there to their be able to provide better for them then by reason of the extremity of the present troubles in England I could do this year which I hope they will consider and have a little patience till then.

Court of Testamentary Business

Vol 4 p 271 1644 - ...Peter Draper attorney for Leonard Calvert esq who at his departure out of the province in April 1643 willed and appointed sd Peter to pay the petr his clothes and other the residue of his sd condition and now the sd Peter is dead and the petr naked and remedilesse,...And the sd Leonard did afre his sd going contract with the petr to serve Mr Gilmett till Christmas las for the wages of 1 200 1tob. which service he performed...

Vol 4 p 275, 276, 277, 278 1644 - to diett of Mr Gilmett etc til whitsontide. 1200 for Mr Gilmett for 2 yea. service pd the beater for the gang; Accompt of neat-Cattell debitor Mr Gilmett; calves 2 old cow 1.; buy Mr Gilmets goods heif: 3, steere, calves 4; to Gilmets use 2 sowes.

Vol 4 p 336, 337 1647 - The humble petition of Nicholas Ketin and Jas Lynsey; That yor petitioners were hired by Capt Giles Brent esq for Mr Gilmot in 1643 and your petitioners were to have for their hire one cow and calf a piece and an ox which your petitioners never received; Giles Brent esq in the cause of Nich Ketin and Jas Lynsey did contract with them for their service to Mr Gilmett...

Abstracts - Children: Thomas Shirley, esq.


1662 Petitioned King Charles II for a position as Gentleman Usher to the Queen

16__ Imprisoned as Captain under Sir George Booth

Calendar of Patent Rolls

1666 Dec 29 - Petition of Capt. Thomas Sherley to the King for the foot company in Windsor Castle void by death of Capt. Finchley; he and his father Sir Thomas Sherley both served the late King in the wars; was plundered for engaging in Sir Georgge Booth's design; served 11 months without pay in his majesty's life guard of cavalry.

Sir George Boothe's "design" - Boothe had for some time been regarded by the royalists as a wellwisher to their cause, and was described to the king in May 1659 as "very considerable in his country, a presbyterian in opinion, yet so moral a man . . . I think your Majesty may safely on him and his promises which are considerable and hearty". He now became one of the chief leaders of the new royalists who at this time united with the cavaliers to effect the restoration. A rising was arranged for the 5th of August in several districts, and Booth took charge of operations in Cheshire, Lancashire and North Wales. He got possession of Chester on the 19th, issued a proclamation declaring that arms had been taken up in vindication of the freedom of parliament, of the known laws, liberty and property, and marched towards York. The plot, however, was known to Thurloe. It had entirely failed in other parts of the country, and Lambert advancing with his forces defeated Booth's men at Nantwich Bridge. Booth himself escaped disguised as a woman, but was discovered at Newport Pagnell on the 23rd in the act of shaving, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

1667 Jun 13 - Commissions for officers in regiments of foot: Command of Col Sir Jo. Sayers [list of Captains] Tho. Sherley

1667 Oct 2 - Letter of Thomas Sherley to Secretary Williamson. Solicits his assistance in procuring him the place of auditor to the new excise office, about to be created; will pay him 100L a year, being a third of the profits for his friendship in the matter

1667 Nov - Petition of Capt Thomas Sherley to Lord Arlington to obtain for him the command of a foot company in the Kings Guard in which there are several vacancies caused by recusancy; has the honour of being his Lordship's relation.

1667 - :Letter of Capt Thomas Sherley to the Earl of Clarendon,; To obtain for him the command of a foot company under the Duke of York, in the forces presently to be raised.

1669 Likely the person letter stating "next heir of Staunton church" was popish if 1st Earl Ferrers didn't produce an heir was referring to as suggested by Stemmata.

Abstracts - Children: Francis Shirley, esq.

Is this the right Francis?

Calendar of the Inner Temple
1685 June - Petition of Francis Shirley panierman for his expenses about providing wine

1695 - Disbursements to Shirley for wine at bench table last term

1695/6 - Francis Sherley panyerman of the Inner Temple buried 31 Jan 1695/6 in churchyard (note all esq and gents in list buried in vault, not churchyard)

1706 - Bill of disbursement to Somers for scouring and setting up the hangings in the chamber let to Shirley
Note: Until earlier this century a curious old custom concerning the ritual of dining in hall survived in the Middle Temple. It was the official daily duty of the panyer-man to ride to Westminster and collect the requirement of freshly baked bread. With this task completed, on the stroke of five-thirty he would set out, in full uniform, on a tour of all the courts, where he sounded loud blasts on his horn to summon the members to dinner. (middle temple info)



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