Chronology of the Lives of
Sir Thomas Sherley, the Elder,
Sir Thomas Sherley, the Younger,
Sir Anthony Sherley and
Sir Robert Sherley
Of Wiston Sussex
1540's Thomas Sherley, the elder, was born
1561 He was at Queens College, Cambridge
1562 Thomas Sherley born to Thomas the elder
1563 Anthony Sherley born to Thomas the elder
1571/81 Robert Sherley born to Thomas the elder (Wiston church
records lost. No official date of birth for Robert).
1572/3 Thomas the elder was Knighted and served in Parliament,
sheriff and Justice of the Peace, etc.
1576 Sir Thomas sat in Parliament
1581 Sir Thomas sat in Parliament
1585 Sir Thomas the elder and his two sons, Thomas and Anthony,
accompanied the forces to the Low Countries to aid the Netherlanders
in their rebellion against Spain.
1586 Sir Thomas the elder bought a fishing grant for Norwich
Cathedral from Henry Rice. The lands of the church had formerly
been those of a monastery.
Note: In the time of Henry VIII such lands were forfeited to
the crown as were the lands of the colleges and chantries in
the reign of Edward VI. Because of the difficulty of knowing
where all land titles rested, unquestionably much property which
ought to have been forfeited was concealed and not surrendered.
There sprang into existence a whole class of people who made
a business of examining titles with the hope of discovering flaws
in them. When one of them declared to the officers of the Exchequer
that he had discovered concealed lands, an inquiry was held in
the absence of the person whose title was in question. The decision
was almost always the same that the lands were indeed concealed
and did in fact belong to the Crown. Thereupon, the title-hunter
obtained from the crown, for a price, a grant by patent to the
lands in question. As soon as he received his grant he suggested
to the owner that he should buy his interest. If the owner refused,
a suit was commenced and if the title-hunter won the suit he
either obtained the lands at a rent or in fee. These were called
"fishing grants" and many estates in England during
the reigns of Elizabeth, James and Charles were granted to such
Robert and Theophilus Adams were granted in 1583 the lands of
the Cathedral Church of Norwich as concealed lands. In the same
year the grant made to these men was passed, for a consideration
no doubt, to Henry Rice, one of the Queens gentleman ushers.
Sir Thomas Sherley the elder and a group associated with him,
purchased the patent from Henry Rice. The lands of the Cathedral
were worth $2000 pounds per year. It was alleged by the Dean
and Chapter of the Cathedral that Sir Thomas Sherley only paid
$300 pounds for the patent. From 1586 onward, when Sherley was
with the army, he was also contesting the ownership of these
lands. In 1587 a compromise agreement was reached between Sir
Thomas and the Dean of Norwich. When the agreement was presented
to the Dean for his signature, he would not sign as some agreements
were not contained in the contract. More than a year later he
still refused to sign. Eventually an arrangement was made. The
titles were to be surrendered into the hands of the Crown. The
lands were then granted to Fanshaw and Osborne with instructions
to offer the ancient tenants (the church) a lease on the lands
at a reasonable rental payable to the Queen. If the Dean and
Chapter refused the lease, it was to be offered to Sherley and
his partners. The case dragged on for a decade. When Sir Thomas
Sherley was released from jail in 1598 it was still unsettled.
The Dean and the Chapter refused to take back a lease on their
own lands on the terms offered them. By 1600 Osborne had died
and Fanshaw, proceeding according to instructions offered the
lease to Sherley and his partners. Unfortunately when they had
the church's lands in their grasp, Sir Thomas and his associates
count not agree on their several rights and shares, and so the
prize slipped from them.
1587 Sir Thomas the elder became Treasurer of War, (continued
in this office until 1597), his sons were Captains.
Note: The English learned to fight the war the hard way and it
was a painful process. Leicester and his officers were hampered
in their desire to create an effective fighting force by their
ambition to make war profitable, since profits implied a minimum
force at a maximum expenditure. The simplest way was to be a
company commander. The post of captain of a company was so lucrative
that no man had the heart to forego it. Leicester, for example,
was the commander-in-chief, but he was also the captain of a
company. The versatility of the company commanders in devising
ways to make money was astounding. The most common was to draw
pay for more men than were actually present. A certain number
of "dead pays" were considered legitimate...10%. There
were ways of inflating the muster rolls other than by counting
the dead, wounded, prisoners, or missing, adding the legitimate
10%. In return for a pass to England and a certificate that he
was sick, for example, a soldier would agree that the captain
was to draw his pay as though he were still in Holland. This
counting of men who were not there was the most elementary device
for profit taking. The captain might and did furnish cloth to
his men, and on this he could make a profit. He contracted with
victualers to feed his men, and as a reward for this kindly concern
received presents from the victualers. Of course the captains
relied on muddled bookkeeping in the English forces to keep them
safe from exposure, or at least from too much exposure, and this
confidence was seldom misplaced. As one moved up the hierarchy
of the army one's opportunities improved.
Leicester was harassed by a paymaster who lacked a certain sense
of flexibility in his position of Treasurer of War. By June
1586 Leicester avowed that he would deal with him. The Treasurer
of War was called home and examined on the charge of fraud. The
charge could not be proved, but about seven months later he was
dismissed. Leicester's good friend, Sir Thomas Sherley the elder
replaced him as Treasurer of War.
1589 The first expansion of Sir Thomas' duties beyond the Low
Countries was when the troops were withdrawn from the Netherlands
for the raid on Portugal. Sir Thomas the elder was given the
task of paying and supplying these detachments. Later, when the
companies were sent to Brittany from the Low Countries, he paid
and supplied them also. He hired ships, bought horses, wagons,
and ammunition, and paid the troops when Essex commanded an army
in Normandy in 1591, and when two thousand troops were transferred
from Brittany to Ireland in 1594, etc.....
Sir Thomas became the key figure in the logistics of the far-flung
war, and the London merchants, were his associates. Particularly
one merchant, Beecher. The contract between Beecher and Sir Thomas
was designed to lighten the load of Sir Thomas' expanding activities
and to provide at the same time a satisfactory profit to both
parties. In explaining the agreement later, Sherley said that
the merchants were unable to give him any security for the large
sums of the Queen's money which he placed in their hands, "whereupon
they did offer unto me gift and consideration of money in respect
of my hazard and adventure with them. They and I did agree upon
a profit which I should have out of those industries of theirs,
and I did receive of them divers sums of money upon the same
agreement. The merchants agreed to supply Flemish pounds, food,
and clothing for fixed amounts.
1589 Sir Anthony took part in an expedition to France
1589 Sir Thomas Sherley the elder was on the point of getting
into his hands all the lands belonging to Norwich Cathedral which
would have been worth $2000 pounds per year income to him.
1590 The Queen wanted the Spanish out of Brittany. The English
expeditionary force consisted of three regiments commanded by:
Sir John Norris, the commander-in-chief, Sir Henry Norris (his
brother), and Captain Anthony Shirley
1591 Sir Thomas the younger, secretly married and the Queen was
furious. She ordered Sir Thomas to be confined in the Marshalsea
prison. He was still there 14 weeks later.
1593/4 Captain Anthony sent on a special embassy to the French
court and while there, was knighted by the King. Returning home,
he was questioned as to the oath he had taken, the critical point
being...did he swear allegiance to Henry IV or promise to defend
the Roman Catholic faith? His answers proved vague and he was
committed to the Fleet prison. Anthony when questioned another
time said he took no oath and was released.
Sir Robert Sherley
and his Persian wife Teresia. Portraits painted by Van Dyke
1593 Sir Thomas the younger sat in Parliament as a member
1595 Sir Anthony secretly marries
Frances Vernon, first cousin of Earl of Essex (her sister had
secretly married the Earl of Southampton and he was exiled from
the court as a result). It was charged that Sir Thomas the elder
had arranged the match for Sir Anthony in order to advance the
fortunes of his family. Sir Thomas the elder denied the charges.
Sir Anthony was also removed from court.
He was now about 30. He had been fighting since he was 20. He
turned as did so many Elizabethans to adventure at sea, planning
an expedition against the Portuguese island of Sao Thome off
the African coast. For sometime English privateers...not a term
used then, had been making rich hauls by capturing Portuguese
vessels coming from Sao Thomas laden with sugar. Sir Anthony
was more ambitious and he planned to capture the source of supply.
His father stood behind him and financed him. Sir Thomas the
elder purchased nine ships for him from Thomas Heaton of Southampton...
the Gallion, Constance, George, George Noble, Archangel, Mermaid,
Swan and a half share in the Black Wolf, and an unspecified share
in the Beavis. In April of 1596 a galley and a pinnace were added
to the Sherley fleet. They also recruited a private army of 1500
men. The cost of this must have been about $20,000 pounds. If
Sir Anthony captured Sao Thome, he stood to gain much.
1596 May, Sherley Fleet finally sails. Soon, Sir Anthony became
so ill, he was lifeless. Because of contrary winds the plan to
sack Sao Thome had to be abandoned. Decisions were made to go
elsewhere to find something worth looting. After minor adventures,
during the course of which the ship Wolf deserted the expedition,
Sir Anthony Sherley arrived off the Jamaica coast where Kingston
is now situated. The Englishmen found Jamaica a marvelous and
fertile island. During the time they remained in the isle, the
captain of the isle came often aboard the ship with pledges for
the security of their promise... that now we were as one people
and in one peace together. However... this is not the account
the Spanish gave. When Sherley's men came ashore, the townspeople
fled to the woods and camped there. Demands for a thousand arrobas
of meat and four thousand cargas of cassava as ransom for the
city was refused. According to the inhabitants, the English looted
the empty town and burned about 60 houses. Finally the demands
were met and Sherley and his men went back to their ships and
1596 Because of a series of droughts and bad harvests beginning
in 1587, the price of grain went up and eventually the calculations
for profit made in the contracts with merchants and Sir Thomas
the elder failed. The struggle to fulfill his contract proved
too much for Beecher, and in December 1596 he went bankrupt.
He immediately accused Sir Thomas the elder of withholding $43,000
pounds of the Queen's money.
1597 By March, Sir Thomas Sherley the elder also went bankrupt
1597 By April, Sir Thomas Sherley, the elder insisted that he
owed the Queen no more than $8000 pounds, but the Queen's auditors
were insisting that he owed her $19,000. It seemed clear that
Beecher had given him more than $15,000 pounds, "by gift
or allowance...for part of his gain in respect of hazard."
In that same month Beecher and Sherley had an altercation before
the Privy Council which ended in Sir Thomas being sent to The
Fleet, and six commissioners were appointed to determine the
truth of their conflicting statements. Sir Thomas assured the
commissioners, among other things, that in the last year before
he went bankrupt he had borrowed less than $1800 pounds from
Beecher, but he admitted to Burghley that he had left the troops
unpaid in the Low Countries by more than $5000. In August the
commissioners completed their examination and concluded that
Beecher owed Sir Thomas slightly more than $18,000. Both Sir
Thomas the elder and Beecher were sent to The Fleet (prison).
By Oct. Sir Thomas the elder wrote that he prayed to be given
liberty because of the decay of his health. He also had numbers
affairs and lawsuits and needed his freedom to attend to them.
In December he was given leave to attend to his affairs during
the day provided he returned to prison at night.
1597 Sir Thomas the elder relieved from his duties as Treasurer
1597 July, Sir Anthony was back home at his father's to comfort
him during the troubled times. Sir Anthony did not succeed to
any great profits while he was gone to help with the financial
troubles his father was in. Only a few weeks later, Sir Anthony
was needed to go with the Earl of Essex in a new expedition which
ended in failure as well.
1598 Essex proposed another plan to the Queen. If all Italy could
be involved in war, Spain would be so occupied defending her
interest there that there would be no energy left for hostilities
against England. There was to be no openly acknowledged English
intervention in Italy, no grandiose expedition etc. A handful
of courageous, experienced captains would go to Ferrara armed
with ample funds with which to bribe and corrupt judiciously.
Essex evidently felt he had the man for the job in the former
colonel of horse under Sir John Norris, and his own Sergeant
Major of the forces on his recent voyage, Sir Anthony Sherley.
It could also be that he chose Sir Anthony because of the Sherley
connections in Italy. His brother, Robert Sherley, was at the
court of Ferdinand, Archduke of Tuscany, and had been for five
years. Essex provided him with $8000 pounds, a large amount.
Sir Anthony met up with his brother, Robert Sherley, in Italy.
The next move was to go to Persia. Robert went with Sir Anthony.
When the Sherleys and their group arrived, the Shah's high steward
came with a great train to the house Sherley and his companions
were lodged. (The Shah was on an expedition). He layed 20 pounds
of gold at Sir Anthony's feet and said he would receive this
much every day beside other commodities until the Shah returns.
When the Shah returned, he camped some distance from the city
to prepare a triumphal entry. He sent word that the English were
to ride out to meet him in Persian costume, which they did. Sir
Anthony Sherley for the occasion wore a turban worth two thousand
dollars, and a jeweled scimitar swung at his side. Robert Sherley
was attired in cloth of gold. When Sir Anthony Sherley and his
men reached the royal party, Sir Anthony dismounted and kissed
the Shah's foot. The Shah kissed Sir Anthony and Robert three
or four times and swore a great oath that Sir Anthony would be
henceforth as his brother. A magnificent banquet was held in
the Sherley's honor.
Sir Anthony was in Persia from Dec 1, 1599 to May 1600. He was
given 25,000 foot and 5,000 horse to train according to the rules
and customs of the English militia. He was also commanded to
reform and retrain the artillery. When he left Persia, he left
his brother, Robert Sherley, behind with 14 Englishmen who lived
in Persia for years. It was as if his brother was kept as a hostage
to insure Sir Anthony's return. However, it appears Sir Anthony
was still in good standing with the Shah for he was chosen by
the Shah (who spoke very highly of Sir Anthony), for a mission.
Everywhere Sir Anthony went, he spent to much and borrowed to
much with promises to repay on various schemes that seldom worked
or if they did, he found ways of avoiding payment for his debts.
This is not only the case for Sir Anthony, but for his brother
Sir Thomas and his father who were very good at raising money
for various schemes. They would loose money more often than turn
a profit. The schemes didn't work for various reasons and were
not always their fault. Sometimes it was by the natural ruins
of mother nature, or the change is political situations on which
the scheme was organized before it could be carried through to
completion, or by miscalculations. They were very clever and
had good connections with leading people of their times all over
They were not alone in their failures and schemes of privateering
and etc. This was an excepted way of getting back at England's
enemies. Other countries did the same.
1598 Sir Thomas the younger also took to sea seeking his fortune.
By this time, privateering was a business for the experts, with
voyages usually backed by the merchants and executed by professional
seamen. In July it was noted that he was general of a fleet of
ships, his armada including the Golden Dragon, Saint George,
Black Hogg, Primrose and Pilgrim.
Sir Thomas had borrowed money and got in debt so deep to John
Skinner that he had to sell two ships to Skinner...the Golden
Dragon and Primrose. A series of things happened and he also
failed at bringing in a profit. Storms would cause damage to
ships and require being in port for months for repair or they
would loose a ship. Captured ships and loot was sometimes released
back to the owners because of one reason or another. There were
certain conditions in which you capture a ship, etc.
1599 Summer, Sir Thomas Sherley turned for awhile from his adventures
and commanded a ship in Her Majesty's Navy.
1600 Sir Thomas the younger was back privateering, and he took
the vessel Golden Dragon which was not his but belonged to Thomas
Skinner at the time. Sir Thomas had borrowed money again, and
now two of his creditors had Sir Thomas jailed.
1601 Sir Thomas the younger was returned as a member of Parliament
for Bramber in Sussex, but having also the opportunity to serve
for Hastings, he chose Hastings. It was about this time that
the Earl of Essex conspiracy to take over the government by force
had been made and he lost his head. The Queen was getting old
now and not only had Essex but others were bored by the Queen's
long reign. Essex, or those of his party, had been in correspondence
with James VI of Scotland since 1589 and Sir Robert Cecil since
1601 and so had the Sherleys.
1601 Sir Anthony who was on a mission for the Shah of Persia
along with the Persian Ambassador and others in the group were
now in Florence Italy. They spent several months here on their
mission. Various problems occurred over a period of time, which
was nothing new.
Sir Anthony Sherley's group was also in Rome. He became Catholic
while in Rome, either in 1598 or on this occasion.
While in Rome... (he could not go back to England as he had been
part of Essex's group and the Queen had him beheaded), he came
up with another scheme. Through his contacts, he let it be known
to the Queen that he was determined to serve Her Majesty if Her
Majesty should so desire. It was said that Sir Anthony was a
practical man and a good soldier on sea and on land. He has been
to the Portuguese Indies and knows much about them. He has been
to Persia and other places and he offers Your Majesty important
About two weeks after his arrival in Rome, in conversations with
Father Persons and Duque de Sessa, Sherley declared that all
the best soldiers in England realized the superior military advantage
Spain would gain by maintaining a fleet of 25-35 ships in the
Scheldt. He gave it as his opinion that with an enemy fleet stationed
there, the English would find in impossible to defend all the
vulnerable points on their coast and a landing could be made
easily. The best places to land were Sandwich, Ipswich, Harwich,
Hull and Harlepool, but of these Sandwich offered the best chance
of success. Sir Anthony judged that in one day a landing party
could make Sandwich strong and in a few days impregnable. From
the port a landing force could easily strike at London, which
he estimated could be taken by twelve or fifteen hundred men.
Once London were taken, the enterprise against England would
have been accomplished, for it is common knowledge that the city
of London is extremely alienated from the Queen, because of the
death of Count Essex. To take London would be a strike at the
heart, while to attack elsewhere would be only a sting. When
asked abut Plymouth and the ports on the Irish and St. George's
channels, Sir Anthony declared that although landings could be
made and ports taken there would be little strategic advantage
in such an operation. Similarly, although a landing in Ireland
could be troublesome for the English it could never be a mortal
wound. The Spanish Ambassador noted that this gentleman repeats
with many exaggerations and arguments that the attack on London
will achieve greater results more easily and more quickly than
would an attack anywhere else.
In later conversations, Sir Anthony warned the Spanish embassy
that the English had the intention of combining with the Dutch
to damage Spanish-Portuguese trade in the Orient, and also that
in England there was so much discussion about taking Jamaica
and Santo Domingo. Here certainly were two subjects on which
he had had first-hand information. In the report of these conversations
forwarded to Spain, it was recommended that although Sherley
professed himself a zealous Catholic and desirous of serving
Phillip III of Spain, his opinions and information ought to be
received with caution, for his conversation was still green.
Sir Anthony also had interesting conversations with the French
Ambassador at Rome, the Cardinal O'Ossat. Sir Anthony told him
that he was the good servant of the King (Henry IV of France),
and had served him in past wars; and he wished to be his (the
Cardinal's) servant also, and came to declare himself as such.
The Cardinal was cautious, and shrewdly conjunctured what the
probable situation was from the facts he had in hand. "I
know very well," he wrote, "that he (Sir Anthony) was
in conference with the English Jesuit, Father Persons, and with
the Spanish ambassador," and he thought that "it may
be that he, being far from his own country and in need of money,
will accept a post from the Spanish."
Sir Anthony left Rome in May, suddenly and unexpectedly leaving
behind a number of unhappy people he owed money to.
1601 August/Sept Sir Anthony arrived in Venice as a Spanish agent.
He also returned to Persia this year.
1602 Spring, Sir Anthony was working for both Spain and for Scotland.
His chief task for his Spanish employers was the promotion of
Anglo-Spanish amity. What he did for the Scots is not quite clear.
Sir Anthony advised, work for, the impoverishment and weakening
of England, since this would lead to discontent with the government
and make the people receptive to change. As an effective means
to this end, he recommended that "His Majesty must be pleased
to fomentate the wars of Ireland." Since Spain had invaded
Ireland the year previously, this advice to James of Scotland
fitted nicely with the Scottish-Spanish amity which Sherley advocated.
Sir Anthony also kept in touch with England. In March 1602 he
assured Sir Robert Cecil that in departing from England he had
left Her Majesty's gracious presence but not her service and
reassured him later of "my constant disposition to Her Majesty's
service and honor and good of my country."
1602 Sir Thomas Sherley the younger was imprisoned for 33 months
and received severe treatment at the hands of the Turks who had
confined him in the island of Negropont and afterwards at Constantinople.
1603 March, two dramatic events, one good, one bad, occurred
in Sir Anthony Sherley's life. His patron, James VI of Scotland,
became King of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth, and
he himself was arrested by the Venetian government. The dread
of Spain haunted the Venetian republic for decades. The fact
that Sir Anthony was in regular correspondence with the Spaniards
was enough to frighten the Venetians.
During his trial, it was brought up about his brother, Sir Thomas
the younger, who had been in the Mediterranean and that he had
held a privateering commission and had plundered Venetian vessels
with great damage to their area of trade. They wanted to know
if Sir Anthony knew anything about this. Sir Anthony said he
had not been in touch with his brother, Sir Thomas Sherley, for
more than 7 years. He proceeds to tell how his brother married
against his wishes. His wife has persecuted me. I have often
fought duels with her brother, Thomas Vavasour, and both of us
have been injured in the fighting. I heard from a relative of
this woman named Charles, has arrived in Venice. He intends to
harm me in order that the property may go to the children of
that woman and not to me. (Frances Vavasour Sherley had died,
and all hands were evidently counting on Sir Thomas' early death
in a Turkish prison. These matters were the reason for my leaving
England; my brother was supported by Secretary Cecil and I by
the Earl of Essex.
Sir Anthony had been in jail for 2 months and asked to have his
case settled. He was released and told to leave the city within
After King James secured the throne, Sir Anthony's status changed
from that of a man of ill repute to that of a royal favorite.
Letters between Sir Anthony and King James were frequent and
cordial. On May 3, 1603 the day before Sir Anthony was released
from prison, Sherley replied to a letter from the King, who "has
pleased to command Mr. Keith to give me so gracious comfort."
King James had sent word by Mr. Keith that he would be pleased
to see trouble fomented for France as long as it was not apparent
that the King of England connived at it. Sherley drew attention
to the fact that the power of France was constantly increasing.
That country had recently made treaties with Switzerland, and
German princes, the Pope, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Venice.
The growing preponderance of France, he argued, could only be
offset by a reconciliation between Spain and England. Sherley
did not maintain that England could trust Spain, but only that
where their interest coincided much was to be gained by friendship
and collaboration; even a show of amity could avert war.
Sir Anthony's jailers, the Venetians, were soon aware of Sherley's
new status. Not long after he had been given his liberty and
before the news had reached England, the Venetian ambassador
at London had a pleasant talk with a gentleman of King James's
court. The English monarch, this gentleman of the court said
he held Sir Anthony in the highest esteem. Sherley had always
been of the King's party, and the only reason he had not returned
to England was that as a relative and dependent of Essex' he
would have been persecuted. Sir Anthony was not the bad subject
he was said to be, nor had Sherley ever been, the King's gentleman
averred, a dependent of the King of Spain, except so far as the
service of King James required him to be. His Majesty therefore
begged the Doge, unless Sherley had committed crimes against
Venice, which could not possibly be the case, to release Sir
Anthony and hand him over to King James, who would have the greatest
pleasure in seeing him again and rewarding him. King James also
begged that the Doge would instruct the Venetian ambassador at
Constantinople to do nothing hostile to Sir Thomas Sherley the
younger, who was a prisoner there.
1605 Sir Thomas Sherley the younger returned to England after
having been released from prison where he had been for 33 months
at the hands of the Turks. He was released by the mediation of
King James I.
1605 Spring, Sir Anthony Sherley returned to Prague, and was
soon after employed by the Emperor of Germany as ambassador to
the King of Morocco.
1606 Sir Anthony is at Lisbon
1607 Sir Anthony is at Madrid. Here, by the King of Spain, he
was made General of the Mediterranean Seas. In July he was at
Naples from thence he returned to Prague to give an account of
his embassy to the Emperor, by who he was created a Count of
1607 Sir Thomas the younger was sent to the Tower of London for
over busying himself with the traffic of Constantinople. No info
for how long he was there.
1608 Sir Robert Sherley married Sampsonia, the daughter of a
Circassian Chieftain, she being about 19 years of age. He being
about 10 years older than his wife. She was baptised by the Carmelites
and given the name of Teresa.
1608 Sir Anthony was again in Italy and then to Spain.
1609 Sir Anthony left Spain for Sicily where he was in command
of the Spanish fleet intended to molest the Turks.
1609 Robert Sherley was employed, as his brother had been, by
the Persian monarch, as ambassador to several princes of Christendon,
for the purpose of uniting them in a confederacy against the
Turks. He first went into Poland, where he was honorably entertained
by Sigismond the Third. In June of this same year he was in Germany,
and received from the Emperor Rudolph II the title of Earl (Count)
palatine and knight of the Roman Empire. Pope Paul the Fifth
also conferred upon him the title of Earl (Count).
From Germany Sir Robert went to Florence and from thence to Rome,
where he entered, attended by a suite of eighteen persons, on
Sunday, the 27th of September, 1609. He next visited Milan, and
then proceeded to Genoa, from whence he embarked to Spain, arriving
in Barcelona in December 1609. He sent for his Persian wife and
they remained in Spain, principally at Madrid, until the summer
1611 Sir Anthony Sherley revisited Spain, and was entertained
by his brother, Sir Robert Sherley, in Madrid. Sir Anthony appears
to have remained in Spain.
1611 Sir Robert Sherley and his wife were at Wiston in Sussex
England. By November a son is born and the Prince of Wales condescended
with the Queen to stand sponsors. The child was named Henry Sherley.
1612 Sir Thomas Sherley the elder died
1612 Sir Thomas the younger is put in the King's Bench Prison.
(see letter below for 1615)
1613 January, Sir Robert Sherley and his wife leave England.
They left their son to the protection of the Queen. He died young,
date not known. He was living in 1614.
1614 Sir Robert was in India
1615 Sir Thomas the younger is still in the Kings Bench Prison
and writes this letter to his Majesty. January 15, 1615... he
asks him to "behold the true anatomy of a most ruined poor
gentleman," requesting to be forgiven the sum of $7000 pounds
still due to the Crown, being part of the rent charge of his
estate, but "begged" by the Earl of Somerset. ..."a
brief of such things as I do most humbly please to desire your
Majesty to take into your royal consideration." Herein he
sets forth his own version of his difficulties and losses which
endeavors to show were the consequences of his loyalty and attachment
to the Crown. It is in this paper that he mentions his father's
original scheme of the baronetage, and estimates the expenses
of his two voyages at $14,000 pounds.
1615 June, Sir Robert arrived back in Persia
1615 October, Sir Robert and his wife left Persia and lived in
Goa for ten months.
1617 Summer, Sir Robert and his wife arrived in Lisbon. Sir Robert
remained at the Court of Madrid until 1622.
1617 Sir Anthony Sherley is back in Madrid visiting his brother,
Sir Robert Sherley, as a Persian Ambassador.
1619 Sir Anthony Sherley is represented as "a very poor
man and much neglected, sometimes like to starve for want of
1622 Sir Robert and his wife went to Rome
1624 Sir Robert and his wife visit England as ambassador from
1625 Sir Thomas the younger writes to Secretary Conway requesting
"to have the keeping of the Park in the Isle of Wight, not
as a matter of profit, but being old and infirm, and living in
a troublesome place, he wishes the conveniency of the house,
which is quiet." This unhappy knight after the death of
his mother (in 1622-23), alienated the manor of Wiston, which
alone remained of the paternal inheritance unsold, and thus left
a numerous progeny without one foot of land. He did retire to
Isle of Wight where he died after 1627.
1626 Another person in character of ambassador from Persia landed
in England and vehemently disputed Sir Robert's right to be the
representative of the Persian monarch.
1627-28 Sir Robert was dispatched back to Persia with the other
supposed ambassador. Sir Cotton was chosen as the King's Ambassador
Extraordinary to the Court of Persia. He was to inquire whether
Sir Robert Sherley was guilty of the imposition which was imputed
to him. The other supposed Persian ambassador put an end to his
life by poison on the voyage. Sir Robert did not seem to have
been treated with the consideration he deserved, though the Shah
distinctly acknowledged his services saying, "That he (Sherley)
had done more for him than any of his native subjects."
It seems Sir Robert got only a mere pension and his health must
have been in decline. Sir Robert Sherley died in Persia July
13, 1628. He was buried under the threshold of his own house
without much ceremony. Lady Teresa, wife of Sir Robert Sherley,
retired after his death to Rome. She had Sir Robert Sherley's
bones dug up and brought to Rome for burial. The church of Santa
Maria ella Scala Rome is his final resting place. The Lady Teresia
died in 1668 and is buried by her husband, Sir Robert Sherley.
1627 In a dispatch from Mr. Atye to Sir Walter Aston from Madrid,
Sir Anthony Sherley is called The Conde de Leste, alias Sir Anthony
Sherley, and again is mentioned as residing in Madrid in January
1627-28 Sir Thomas Sherley died on Isle of Wight
1633 Sir Anthony Sherley died in Spain
The info on this page has come from many sources compilied
into a book ELIZABETHANS ERRANT written by D.W. Davies.
The widow of Mr. Davies told me years ago that her husband
had been working on a grant on another project and he repeatedly
was running into the Sherleys' names.. He became intriqued and
wanted to learn more about these Sherleys. When his project was
completed, he applied for and received another grant for the
Sherley research. He not only traveled to many places in Europe
but also to England researching the Sherleys/Shirleys. He visited
Wiston and other places connected to the Shirleys, including
a visit with the Earl Ferrers.
On my visit at the home of the Earl Ferrers in 1985, he asked
me if I knew or had met Mr. Davies and his wife. I replied that
I had met her but Mr. Davies was deceased by that time and I
never had the pleasure of meeting him.
The book is no longer available but a copy of the book can be
purchased thru the Shirley Association and the cost is $20 including