The Shirley Association has been a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies since 1988
  Shirleys of
West Grinstead


Pedigree of the Shirleys of West Grinstead Manor 


St. George- parich church of
West Grinstead, Sussex

In 1215 the manor of WEST GRINSTEAD apparently descended, like the advowson of the church, with Bramber rape. It was certainly held in demesne by the lord of the rape, William, Lord Braose (d. 1290), in 1280, and the overlordship of the manor usually continued to descend with the rape. In the later 13th and earlier 14th century, however, it descended with Chesworth manor in Horsham, and in the earlier 15th century with Findon. In 1551, after its forfeiture by Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour, the overlordship was granted by the Crown to Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton, who sold it back in the following year. It had been restored by 1559 to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, who alienated it first in that year to Sir Nicholas Pelham, and then in 1571 to Robert and Roland Harris.

In 1403 the demesne tenancy of the manor was settled on John Halsham and his wife Maud, though since the banns of marriage of John and his previous wife Philippa were called in West Grinstead church, and since Philippa (d. 1395) was buried there, he had presumably had the estate before. At his death in 1415 it passed to his son Sir Hugh (d. 1442), who fought at Agincourt. Another John Halsham was dealing with the manor in 1447 and 1453. By 1465 it seems to have passed to John Lewknor and his wife Joan, née Halsham and heir of Hugh. John had died by 1472, when his widow lived at West Grinstead; at her death in 1495 she was succeeded by her cousin Sir Henry Roos (d. c. 1504). After the death of Sir Henry's widow Maud in 1512, the manor passed to her granddaughter Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Shirley. Thereafter the manor descended with Buddington in Wiston until 1584, the Shirleys living at West Grinstead. Francis Shirley (d. 1578) was M.P. for Shoreham and sheriff of Surrey and Sussex.

At the death of Thomas Shirley (fl. 1584) 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.



1558 Star Chamber Proceedings
The Case of Sherley vs. Grevett

Complaint of William Sherley

who states that one Thomas Shirey, Esq, his father, late deceased, was at the time of his death possessed of divers goods and chattels, as ready money, plate, household stuff, oxen, kine, horses, mares, beasts, corn, hay, etc, amounting to the sum of L600. And he so being possessed made his last will and testament, makeing Elizabeth Sherley his wife, and mother to complainant, his sole executor. And after his decease the said Elizabeth having (without any probation by her made of the said will) attained and got into her hands all the said goods and chattels, died intestate at West Grinstead in August in the presetn 4th and 5th year (1557) of your Majesties' reign possessed of goods and chattels of her own to the value of L200 and the unadministered goods of the said Thomas Sherley; after whose death the administration of the goods of the said Thomas and Elizabeth was committedd to Complainant as one of the natural sons, by force whereof he was possessed of one horse, parcel of the said goods, and being so possessed one John Grevet, Constable of the town of West Grinstead, "who should have seen your Grace's peace kept," accompanied with one William Martyn and Thomas Pepper, with divers other riotous and evil disposed persons on the 27th day of October last past at West Grinstead made assault upon one Henry Lucas, being servant unto your said subject, he then being with the said horse in your Majesty's highway, and then and there sore wounded the said Henry Lucas and took from him the said horse.

Complainant asks for a writ of subpoena.

John Grevet and William Marten, in their answer to the above complaint,

state that on the 27th of April [sic] the said William Martyn and John Grevet being together in the house of the said William Marten in West Grinstead in the morning of the said day, the said William Marten told the said John Grevet he must ride that day to London to his master Mr. Francis Sherley, and his landlady the wife of the said Francis Sherley, then being at London, to carry a basket with butter and other victuals in the same to his said master and mistress, and prayed the said John Grevet, being tenant to the said Francis Sherley, having occasion to go to the place and Mansion house of the said Francis Sherley in West Grinstead, to go thither the next way afoot and to take there the said basket and meet him at the side of the park of the said Francis Sherley (being almost a quarter of a mile from the said place or Mansion House) and did go to the said house and did there take the said basket and did meet the said William Marten at the said park side, who came riding thither the next way being the highway towards London, and there the said Defendant did espy the said Henry Lucas mentioned in the said bill, who was then coming out of the said park and had taken one gelding out of the same of the said Francis Sherley's and the said William Marten, knowing the same to be his master's gelding, did ride to the said Henry Lucas and did stay the said gelding, and by reson the said Henry Lucas offered by violence to have carried away the said gelding and did give evil word to the said Marten, and the said Thomas Pepper, also mentioned int he said bill and being keeper of the said park an dwalking in the said park, hearing the noise of the said Lucas and Marten came to them to stay them they should not fight, and after that the said Marten and Pepper perceiving it was the said gelding which they did know to be the said Francis Sherley's gelding, they the said Pepper and Wiliam Marten in quiet manner did stay the said gelding as lawful was for them to do. And after that the said William did ride his way towards London, and the said John Grevet returned to West Grinstead, the said John Grevet then having no weapon at all.

Thomas Pey is mentioned as one of the defendants.

The answer of Thomas Pepper, the keeper of the park (dated 2 Feb 1557/8)

states that he was walking in the park on the 28th October adn did espy the said Henry Lucas, servant to the Complainant, who had taken in the said park one gelding of the said Francis Sherley and did then convey the said gelding out of the park, and the said Defendant did pursue and follow after him to th eintent to stay the said gelding, and he did see one William Marten, who then did by chance meet the said Lucas with the said gelding as he was riding to London to the said Francis Sherley his master, staying th esaid gelding, adn the Defendant did hurry to them and the said Lucas did then and there give evil word to the said Defendant and the said William Marten and would have carried away the said gelding, by reason whereof the said Defendant "with a lytle walkinge staff which he doithe use commonly to walke with all did geyve the said Henry Lucas a lytle stroke with the said staff only to thentent to stay him and the said gelding," and he so stayed the said gelding and carried it to the park again. The Defendant states that he knows nothing further of the matter.


The interrogatories enquire (1) whether William Sherley delivered to Francis Sherley "a gelding coler whyte" which was sometime Elizabeth Sherleys' mother's and if not, how th esaid gelding came into the hands of the said Francis; (2) whether Defendants did make an assault on Hnery Lucas and for what reason, who they were who did so and how many; (3) whether anyone struck the said Lucas, and with what weapon and who was present.

The depositions (dated 4 and 5 Phillip and Mary) are those of William Marten and John Grevet, yeomen, of West Grinstead. The latter states that the gelding was sent to Francis by his brother William as "one of the geldings bequeathed to him by Thomas Sherley his father."


St Mary's

A charming 15th century timber-framed house, was originally a hostel for travellers. The River Adur had a broad navigable estuary in the 12th century and beside the bridge at Bramber, on the site of St Mary's, stood a house belonging to the Knights Templar. The bridge and its tolls were given to the Benedictine monks of Sele Priory in around 1230. By 1350 the Priory had also received the Knights Templar's house.

Sele Priory was given to the newly established Magdalen College, Oxford in the mid-15th century. In 1470 the founder of the College, William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, rebuilt St Mary's as a hostel for travellers. The present house is about half the size of Waynflete's building. On the Dissolution of the Monasteries St Mary's was acquired by Francis Shirley of West Grinstead. The house then passed into the hands of the Gough family who used it as an occasional residence and made several alterations in the late 16th century.



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