Ancestors of a 21st century British family

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  • ID: I5116
  • Name: George Shirley
  • Suffix: 1st Bt
  • Prefix: Sir
  • Sex: M 1
  • Birth: 23 APR 1559 2 3
  • Death: 27 APR 1622 in Astwell, Northants
  • Burial: Breedon on the Hill, Leics
  • HONO: 1611
  • Note: Created Bart
  • Occupation: The 2nd baronet ever created, 22 May 1611
  • Education: Hart Hall (Hertford) & Gloucester Hall, Oxon. Grays Inn
  • MEM: Breedon on the Hill, Leics: kneeling figure
  • Note: 4 5 6

    He studied at Hart Hall (later known as Hartford [Hertford] College), in the University of Oxford in 1573. "By the advantage of the most famous and learned tutors, he acquired a knowledge not common of the Greek and Latin tongues, of philosophy, of history, of politics, and other liberal sciences. After he had finished his studies, he presented his service at Court, and undertook the voyage of  Holland in 1585 with Robert Earl of Leicester, ever putting himself in those places most eminent for danger and honour".
    He entered Gloucester Hall in 1587 and was of Grays Inn in 1602. In  1603 he served as sheriff of Northamptonshire at the time, in company with many gallant men who conducted James the First through that county to his coronation. In 1611, he was created a Baronet.  
    [Note: A William Bell came to London from Worcester to study law. He shared  chamber and bed with George Shirley. Bell became a Roman Priest and wasexecuted in 1643].
    George Shirleys arms were taken away for 4 years as he was suspected as being a Catholic, although he outwardly conformed to the church of England. (If a Papists refused to come to  church on Sunday, they were liable to a penalty of 20 pounds for every lunar month during which they absented themselves). He appears to have died a Catholic.
    "His piety was so remarkable in his large and bountiful alms, that  he merited the glorious title of father and  nourisher of the poor, relieving during the great dearth, 500 a day at his gates"
    m. 1st Frances Berkeley 1587, daughter of Henry Lord Berkeley (by Catherine, daughter of Henry Earl of Surrey).                   
    m. 2nd Dorothy Wroughton (no children by George).
    Dorothy appears to have a marriage contract when she married George Shirley. First she doth require to reserve her own living entire to herself, to bestow the commodities ofit to her own  pleasure, without any controls; secondly, she doth demand a thousand pounds yearly jointure;  third, 500 pounds land to be tyed upon her son, if by any good means there may be one gotten; fourthly, if it so fall out that her husband and she should fall out, she doth require 500__??, a year out of his living, and to live apart from him with that added to her living of Farinton.
    The Shirleys were by far the most interesting of the owners of Astwell, and, in fact, managed to produce contemporaneously a murderer and founder of a religious sect.
    With George Shirley the light at last begins to shine brightly on Astwell.  He was a man highly typical of his age. Educated at Hart Hall, Oxford, he received some training at one of the Inns of Court and later served for a while with the Earl of Leicester in Holland. On succeeding to Astwell, with which he immediately feel in love, he became henceforth a Northamptonshire rather than a Leicestershire man and was sheriff of the County in the year that Queen Elizabeth died.
    Early in the next reign he demolished the greater part of the manor house, and, smitten with building fever then raging among Northamptonshire squires, built himself a large and beautiful mansion alongside the old Thomas Lovett's tower. The new house, which had gables and mullioned windows in the prevailing style, was completed in about 1606. There were over forty rooms, including a hall, a chapel, a great and a little parlour, and a gallery hung with twenty-four pictures, as we know from an inventory of 1622 which gives the names of all the rooms. These and also the tower were luxuriously furnished with court cupboards, four-poster beds, chairs and stools covered with velvet, needle-work or leather, green and red rugs, hangings and "carpets" of arras, velvet cushions, coloured window curtains, chests, cabinets, long oak tables with benches and joint stools, tow pair of virginals, a "harpiscall", a bell to ring to prayers, etc., etc., etc. With a small army of servants inside and out, a stable full of horses, at least three coaches, those were surely the greatest days of Astwell, when for beauty and importance it must have ranked with such places as Gawsley, Deene, or Great Oakley Hall. George signed the work of his period with his initials and coat of arms in several rooms, the example on the stone mantel-piece in the sitting room of the present house being the only one now surviving.
    George Shirley "with many gallant gentlemen" conducted James I across Northamptonshire on his way south at his accession, and was one of the first batch of baronets created by that monarch. An open-handed man, "relieving during the great dearth 500 a day at his gates", he reminds us of his contemporary the first Lord Montagu of Boughton on the other side of the County. The year of the "great dearth" was 1608.
    Shirley's religious position was ambiguous, unless, which we doubt, he was an arrant hypocrite. He was an avowed Roman Catholic, and therefore placed on the list of suspected Papists in Northamptonshire. All his armour and weapons were removed from Astwell House in his absence over-seas in 1618 on the plea that his servants were recusants. Lord Exeter, then Lord Lieutenant, thereupon wrote to the Privy Council on his behalf that "he had always been loyal and forward in service and declared himself no recusant". Three years later his arms were restored to him. He was certainly an outward conformer to the Church of England, and the following letter to Dr. Lambe, Chancellor of the Diocese of Peterborourgh, from four of the local clergy, suggests very strongly that his attendance at their services was more than a mere formality. He was perhaps one of those who had "true unity, which is most glorious."
    "May it please you, Sir, Whereas we whose names are hereunder written are intreated by Sir George Shirley of Astwell in your Countie of Northampton Baronet, to certifie our knowledge to your worship of his conformities in coming to the church and hearing devine service and sermons there, upon Sundays and Holldayes, according to the lawe in that case; we do hereby certifie you that the said Sir George Shirley (being an old gent. and his house farr from the parish churche) and having an auntient privileged chappell in his house, hathe, according to the booke of Common prayer, service red in the same chappell by Mr. Jones. a Batchelor in Divinitie and Chaplen in his house, who hathe of him a yearely stipend for reading prayer and preaching there, to which service and sermons himselfe, his Ladie and his familie doe come verie orderly, and we doe further certifie your worship that we ourselves doe verifie often every yeare in the absence of his said chaplen, or when we are thereunto entreated by the said Sir George Shirley, come thither and read service and preache in his his said chappell to him, his Ladie and his familie; and this with remembrance of our humble dutie we committ you to God, and rest.
    Your worhip's always to command, Richard Lewis (S.T.P.) (Vicar of Brakley). William Jonnes (Clerk) [Rector of Syreham]. Chr. Middleton (Clerk) [Rector of Aston-le-Walls]. Edward Wade (Clerk) [Rector of Holdenby and Church Brampton]. Dated the 23 of January 1618 [1619].
    Sir George Shirley, in the words of his son, Thomas, died on 27th of April 1622, aged 63, "in the bosom of his mother, the Roman Catholick Church".
    The colossal monument at St. Mary and St. Hardulph, Breedon-on-the-Hill runs almost the full height of the north wall. Starting with the achievement of arms at the top over two coffered arch recesses housing the main figures of Sir George Shirley his wife with two babies in cradles and two sons and a daughter behind. The whole ensemble stands on carved columns enclosing an alabaster carved skeleton or cadaver at the base, symbolizing in a rather grandiose morbid way, the end that awaits even the most illustrious mortals. The translated latin inscription makes interesting reading, telling us also that the poor wife died in childbirth at the age of 29.
    (The Story of St. Mary and St. Hardulph Church.)
    George Shirley died in 1622. The monument at Breedon-on-the-Hill was put up after his first wife Frances died in December 1595. In 1596 he contracted with Garrett and Jasper Hollemans to put up a monument at Wappenham, Northamptonshire, but he evidently changed his mind about the location and had it erected at Breedon instead. The Royleys were responsible for the monuments of Francis and John Shirley at Breedon, for the latter of which the contract with George Shirley survives.
    Monuments at St Mary & St Hardulph, Breedon-on-the-Hill include:
    George Shirley (ob 1622) & wife (ob 1595): large standing wall monument erected in 1598. At foot a corpse, on next tier five kneeling figures (parents and children) & two infants in cradles.
    Sir George Shirley rebuilt Astwell in Northamptonshire, the ancient manor place of the Lovetts, his mother's family, and which became afterwards his favourite residence, and an occasional seat of his descendants
    Sir Henry Unton married, before 1591, Dorothy (d. 1634), eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Wroughton, Kt. of Broad Hinton (Wiltshire) by whom he had no issue. In 1598, she married, as her second husband. Sir George Shirley, Kt. (d. 1622).
    It seems that 8 baronetcies were created on 22 May 1611 (The next batch was on 29 June 1611):
    001 Bacon of Redgrave 22 May 1611 also Baronet Bacon of Mildenhall
    002 Shirley of Staunton 22 May 1611 Earl Ferrers
    003 Pelham of Laughton 22 May 1611 Earl of Chichester
    004 De Hoghton of Hoghton Tower 22 May 1611
    005 Hobart of Intwood 22 May 1611 Earl of Buckinghamshire
    006 Gerard of Bryn 22 May 1611 Baron Gerard
    007 St John of Lydiard Tregoze 22 May 1611 Dormant; 10th Bt died 1974 (6th Viscount Bolingbroke and 7th Viscount St John)
    008 Shelley of Michaelgrove 22 May 1611
  • _UID: E652608796C84353B2EC81254B1B47DEE21E
  • OBJE:
  • FORM: jpg
  • FILE: ~/Documents/Ged Pics mstr/Shirley, Geo d 1622.jpg
  • Title: Shirley, Geo d 1622
  • _PRIM: Y
  • _SIZE: 372.000000 615.000000
  • Change Date: 3 MAY 2011

    Father: John Shirley b: ABT 1533 in Staunton Harald, Leics
    Mother: Jane Lovett

    Marriage 1 Frances Berkeley b: 1564
    • Married: 21 FEB 1587
    1. Has Children Henry Shirley b: 1588

    1. Type: Web Site
      Author: Greg Martin
    2. Type: Web Site
      Author: Betty Shirley
      Title: Shirley Association
      Date: 2001
      Page: 1559
    3. Type: Web Site
      Title: LDS Ancestral file
    4. Type: Web Site
      Author: Betty Shirley
      Title: Shirley Association
      Date: 2001
    5. Type: Web Site
    6. Type: Book
      Author: R. J. Arden Lovett
      Date: 1897
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