Ancestors of a 21st century British family

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  • ID: I4419
  • Name: Henry Shirley
  • Suffix: 2nd Bt
  • Prefix: Sir
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 1588 1
  • Death: 8 FEB 1634
  • Burial: Breedon on the Hill, Leics
  • Education: Oxford
  • Religion: Catholic
  • MEM: Breedon on the Hill, Leics: kneeling effigy on parents? tomb
  • Note: 2

    His father gave him a noble education, an exact knowledge of the liberal sciences, and from Oxford he was sent for the bettering of his understanding and the gaining of languages, with license of the King, to travel beyond the seas.
    With all the qualities that complete a gentleman, he returned to his country and addressed himself to Henry Prince of Wales, and was received with honor. When Henry Prince of Wales died, it so devestated him that he retired into the country to live a solitary life, determining not to think of courtly pomp or glory.
    Upon the persuasion of his honored father, he married Dorothy Devereux, daughter of Robert Earl of Essex, the favorite of the Queen, and sister of Robert the last Earl.
    Immediately upon the death of his father, Sir Henry by indenture, dated May 9, 1622, executed a strict entail of the family estates in Shirley, Brailesford, Hone, Ednaston, Longford, Boobton, Hollington, Yeveley, Rodisley, Wyaston, Borowes,Thurvaston, and Bradley (Derby Co.), Silby and Ratcliff.
    In 1628, Henry was a prisoner in the Fleet for scandalising Earl of Huntingdon. In 1633 he was busy rebuilding the manor house of Ragdale in Leicestershire, an estate inherited from the Bassett family by marriage with the Shirleys.
    Henry was a Roman Catholic.
    He had a large carved pew made for Breedon on the Hill.
    His daughter Lettice (1619- 25 Sep 1655) married William Burke (Earl?) of Clanricarde (d Oct 1687).
    In 1632 Sir Thomas Shirley commissioned what was surely one of the biggest documents of the early-Stuart period. Measuring 11 ft. 9 in. by 29 ft. 2 in., it consisted of a series of parchment rolls, stitched together, on which was depicted the genealogy of the Shirleys of Staunton Harold in Leicestershire, from their Anglo-Saxon ancestor, Sewale of Ettington, to the current head of the family, Sir Thomas? elder brother, Sir Henry Shirley, Bart.
    At the head of the roll were pictures of knights, barons and earls bearing the escutcheons of noble families into which the Shirleys had married. At its foot was the Shirley coat of arms, with its fifty quarterings and family crest of a saracen?s head. The body of the document contained the family tree and coloured drawings of the various sources which Sir Thomas had used for tracing his genealogy: deeds and documents, armorial glass from church windows, and funeral monuments and brasses. This type of document had become familiar in Elizabeth?s reign. It was an illuminated family pedigree which provided visual confirmation of a claim to ancient lineage. However, in this case, its sheer size, and the lavishness of its illustration, meant that it could serve a broader purpose which was both didactic and representational. It was clearly intended for display, probably in the hall of the family seat at Staunton Harold which had been rebuilt on a grand scale in the mid-sixteenth century. In this setting, it could take on the functions of a historical wall painting, setting out the Shirleys? past achievements for others to learn from and emulate, and depicting the particular glories of the lineage: the quality of its marriages, the enduring connection with places where ancestors lay buried and its sheer longevity. The roll is a classic representation of how a gentry family of the period wanted to imagine itself and wanted others to imagine it.
  • _UID: 53ACFE2AB60C4BC5AA56118082A222845477
  • Change Date: 5 MAY 2011

    Father: George Shirley b: 23 APR 1559
    Mother: Frances Berkeley b: 1564

    Marriage 1 Dorothy Devereux b: 1600 in Essex House, London
    • Married: 1 AUG 1616 in St. Lawrence Pountney, London
    1. Has Children Robert Shirley b: 1629

    1. Type: Web Site
      Author: Betty Shirley
      Title: Shirley Association
      Date: 2001
    2. Text: Catholicism, Antiquarianism and Gentry Honour: The Writings of Sir Thomas Shirley
      By Richard Cust
      University of Birmingham
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