Name: Robert Shirley
Suffix: 4th Bt
Note: Age 27 at death
Death: 6 NOV 1656 in Tower of London
Residence: Staunton Harold, Leicestershire
Education: Corpus Christi, Cambridge?
Cause: Possibly died of poisoning
PCTS: 2 portraits at Ettington Park in 1869, one copied 1849 by Keens from original at Sudbury Hall, and one Portrait at Ettington Park in 1869, copied from original at Staunton Harald 1
Note: 2 3|
FILE: ~/Documents/Ged Pics mstr/Shirley, Robt d1656.jpg
Title: Shirley, Robt d1656
_SIZE: 284.000000 355.000000
Change Date: 7 APR 2009
In 1645, Robert was admitted a fellow commoner of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge [age 13?]*. The following year upon the premature death of his brother, Sir Charles Shirley, [Robert?] succeeded him in the baronetcy and estates, being at that time about fifteen years old, and a ward, as also his brother had been, to his uncle Lord Essex.
Upon the death of Lord Essex, Sir Robert Shirley succeeded in the right of his mother Lady Dorothy to a moiety of the estates of the Devereux family. About 1653 a division was effected by which it was agreed that the Marquis of Hertford, afterwards Duke of Somerset, who had married the Lady Frances Devereux, eldest sister of Lord Essex, should have his share of the property, Drayton Basset, in the county of Stafford with the estate in county of Hereford and Brecon, Essex House, in London and a moiety of the barony of Farney (Shirley estate), in county of Monaghan in Ireland which had been granted to Walter Earl of Essex, by Queen Elizabeth, in the year 1576. To Robert Shirley's share fell the Chartley estate in the county of Stafford, with property at Newcastle-under-Lyne, the tenements adjoining Essex House, in London, a rent charge of 300 pounds going out of Havodwyn, Blanarion or Blagnaron, and Penarth in the county of Cardigan, and the other moiey of the barony of Farney, (Shirley estates in Ireland).
On his uncle's death, Sir Robert Shirley retired into the country and from that time exerted himself as a zealous adherent to the sacred cause of his sovereign and the Church of England, in whose holy communion he was educated by his mother, Lady Dorothy; for the Devereux family had early renounced the errors of the Church of Rome, to which Sir Robert's father, Sir Henry, was so sincerely attached.
During the year 1647-48 Sir Robert appears to have been with other Royalists at Oxford, and appears to be the one who was resident with his young wife in St. John's college in that university.
Sir Robert Shirley built a church at Staunton Harold during the time Cromwell made it penal for any persons to keep in their houses any of the sequestered or ejected ministers in the capacity of chaplains or tutors,which forbade them likewise to preach to any others than the members of their own families, to perform of the offices of religion, or to use the book of Common Prayer. Staunton Harold continued to be during Sir Robert's life, an asylum to many of the distressed divines. So upseting was this that an order was issued to Sir Robert saying, "He that could afford to build a church, could no doubt afford also to equip a ship;" Sir Robert Shirley refused, and was sent to the Tower of London, dying at age 23 [or 27?], suspicioned of poisoning.
The following letter of condolence was written by Charles the II to Lady Shirley about a year after her husband's death.
"IT HATH BEEN MY PARTICULAR CARE OF YOU THAT I HAVE THIS LONG DEFERRED TO LAMENT WITH YOU THE GREATE LOSSE THAT YOU AND I HAVE SUSTAINED, LEAST INSTEEDE OF COMFORTING I MIGHT FARTHER EXPOSE YOU TO THE WILL OF THOSE WHO WILL BE GLAD OF ANY OCCASION TO DO YOU FURTHER REJUDICE; BUT I AM PROMISED THAT THIS SHALL BE PUT SAFELY INTO YOUR HANDS, THOUGH IT MAY NOT SO SOONE AS I WISH; AND I AM VERY WILLING YOU SHOULD KNOW, WHICH I SUPPOSE YOU CANNOT DOUBTE, THAT I BEARE A GREATE PARTE WITH YOU OF YOUR AFFLLICTION, AND WHENEVER IT SHALL BE IN MY POWER TO MAKE IT LIGHTER, YOU SHALL SEE I RETAYNE A VERY KINDE MEMORY OF YOUR FRINDE BY THE CARE I SHALL HAVE OF YOU AND ALL HIS RELATIONS; AND OF THIS YOU MAY DEPENDE UPON THE WORD OF YOUR VERY AFFECTIONE FRINDE... CHARLES R."
Sir Robert, the 4th baronet, lived at Astwell Manor as a boy during the early years of the Civil War, and his widow make it her home for many years. The house was kept up and the family probably came for a part of each year, buy they took little or no part in the affairs of the County and inclined more and more to Staunton Harold and their other residences.
Built the chapel of the Holy Trinity at Staunton Harold (one of only three churches to be built during the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell), in defiance of Cromwell?s order to outfit a ship. Cromwell said "He that could afford to build a church, could no doubt afford to equip a ship?" Sir Robert Shirley refused and was taken to the Tower of London in 1656, where he died at age 27, victim of a suspected poisoning. His widow received a letter from Charles II.
Charles II confirmed unto the eldest son, Robert Shirley, and his heirs the ancient Baronies of Ferrers of Chartley. In 1711, Sir Robert Shirley was advanced to the titles of Viscount Tamworth and Earl Ferrers.
*Can?t find his entry in Venn. But maybe he left Cambridge after a year when he succeeded to the baronetcy?
Father: Henry Shirley b: 1588
Mother: Dorothy Devereux b: 1600 in Essex House, London
Catherine Okeover b: ABT 1629 in Okeover, Staffs
- Robert Shirley b: 1650 in East Sheen, Surrey
- Type: Book
Periodical: Lower Eatington; its Manor house and Church
Author: Evelyn Philip Shirley
- Type: Web Site
Author: Betty Shirley
Title: Shirley Association
- Type: Book
Periodical: Alumni Cantabrigienses (Cambridge Alumni)