Sir John Shelton

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Sir John Shelton (1476/7 – 1539) of Carrow, courtier, was, through marriage, the uncle of King Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, and controller of the joint household of the King's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Sir and Lady Shelton were also Governor and Governess to the King's children.


Sir John Shelton (1476/7–1539) was the son of Sir Ralph Shelton (c. January 1431 – 16 July 1497) and Margaret Clere (d. 16 January 1500), the daughter of Robert Clere, esquire, of Ormesby, Norfolk, by Elizabeth Uvedale, the daughter of Thomas Uvedale, esquire. He had two brothers, Ralph Shelton (died 1538), who married Mary Brome (d. 29 August 1540), and Richard Shelton, a priest, and two sisters, Elizabeth Shelton, and Alice Shelton, who married John Heveningham.[1]

The family took its name from the village of Shelton near Norwich, and had held land in East Anglia, including Shelton Hall, for three centuries before Sir John's birth. Before 1503, he married Anne (18th Nov 1475 – 06 Jan 1555), the daughter of Sir William Boleyn of Blickling, Norfolk. Shelton was appointed High Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1504 and 1522, and was a Justice of the Peace for Norfolk. At the coronation of King Henry VIII he was made a Knight of the Bath.[2]

Shelton and his wife rose to prominence when King Henry VIII married, as his second wife, Lady Shelton's niece, Anne Boleyn, the daughter of Lady Shelton's brother, Sir Thomas Boleyn. After Queen Anne's coronation in 1533, Lady Shelton and her sister, Lady Alice Clere (d. 1 November 1538),[3] were placed in charge of the King's daughter, Mary, at Hatfield Palace.[4] According to Block, this was likely done to pressure Mary to recognize Anne as queen.[5] The enmity and abuse meted out to Mary contributed to everlasting hatred between the Tudor court factions.[6]

By July 1536 Shelton was controller of the household established for Mary and Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth. Sir John and Lady Shelton were given the joint title of Governor and Governess of the Princess Elizabeth, responsible for her upbringing and education, after, aged only two years old, her mother had died.[7] In August 1536, the King was reunited with his daughters at Hunsdon, a month after Queen Anne's beheading. There is no evidence that Shelton was involved with family intrigues or of the King's dissatisfaction.[8] On 22 November 1538 he was granted the site of the former Benedictine nunnery of Carrow just outside Norwich. This property became the family seat.[9]

Shelton died on 21 December 1539[10] at the age of 62, and was buried in the chancel of Shelton church. He was said to have been "a man of great possessions", which he sought to pass on to his heirs contrary to the Statute of Uses. When the stratagem came to light after Shelton's death, the lawyers involved were punished, and an Act of Parliament was passed annulling such "crafty conveyances".[11][12]

Shelton had at least six children. His son and heir, Sir John Shelton (b. in or before 1503, d. 1558), married Margaret, the daughter of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley.[13] His daughter Anne married Edmund Knyvet. Another daughter, Margaret, is said to have been a mistress of King Henry VIII.[14] His youngest daughter, Mary, married firstly, Sir Anthony Heaveningham, and secondly, Philip Appleyard.[15]


In 1528 the Shelton family sat for the court painter Hans Holbein.[16]

See also


  1. Richardson I 2011, p. 391.
  2. Block 2006.
  3. Weir 1991, p. 260; Richardson I 2011, p. 391.
  4. Bindoff 1982, p. 312.
  5. Block 2006; Weir 1991, p. 260.
  6. Weir, p.34
  7. Weir, p.298
  8. Weir, p.302
  9. Block 2006.
  10. Baker 2003, p. 681.
  11. Bindoff 1982, p. 312; Block 2006; Baker 2003, p. 681.
  12. Baker states that the lawyers involved were [Sir] Humphrey Browne, Sir Nicholas Hare, William Coningsby, and Edmund Grey.
  13. Bindoff 1982, p. 312
  14. Weir 1991, p. 277.
  15. Heale 2004
  16. Porter, Mary Tudor; Wilson, Holbein; Weir, The Lady, p.34


  • Baker, John (2003). The Oxford History of the Laws of England. VI. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 681. Retrieved 22 March 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bindoff, S.T. (1982). The House of Commons 1509-1558. III. London: Secker & Warburg.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Block, Joseph S. (2006). "Shelton family (per. 1504–1558), gentry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/70835.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Heale, Elizabeth (2004). "Shelton, Mary (married names Mary Heveningham, Lady Heveningham; Mary Appleyard) (1510x15–1570/71), contributor to manuscript miscellany". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/68085.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Ives, E.W. (2004). "Anne (Anne Boleyn) (c.1500–1536), queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/557.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Porter, Linda (2007). Mary Tudor: The First Queen. London.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966373.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Weir, Alison (1991). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Weir, Alison (2009). The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn. London.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links