First Sheldon found in Bakewell
EVIDENCE OF EARLY SHELDONS in Derbyshire is surprisingly difficult to find, with the appearance of a Roger de Scheladon in 1307/08 legal proceedings over a debt the first tangible record.
The 1307/08 record, held in the National Archives at Kew, London, shows Roger de Scheladon of Bachequell (Bakewell) being served with a debtor’s notice forwarded to the Sheriff of Derbyshire by John Kytte, Mayor of Nottingham, concerning the purchase of two sacks of wool, valued at 12 marks a sack. The alleged creditors were John de Maltby, a Nottingham wool merchant, and Matilda Stoyle, also of Nottingham.
We do not know the outcome of the action or any more details about Roger de Scheladon.
Looking for Sheldon evidence in the Derbyshire visitations gives us the appearance of Richard Sheldon in the Visitation of 1662 pointing to a family with roots in the village of Monyash dating back to the late 14th century. No Sheldons are listed in the earlier Visitations of 1569 and 1611.
Magna Britannia, Volume 5, published in 1817 and described as a “general and parochial history” of Derbyshire, records, in its notes on the gentry of the county, that “nine descents of this family are described in the Visitation of 1662”.
The entry goes on to note that arms are not described and, intriguingly, that: “This family is said to be extinct.” The paragraph comes under a section headed “Gentry families extinct since 1500”.
The Derbyshire Visitation of 1662, compiled by our old friend, the noted herald Sir William Dugdale, describes Richard Sheldon as around 30 years old at that time and with a pedigree dating back to a Richard de Scheladon, born around 1385 in Monyash, which is in the southern part of the Peak District, some five miles west of the market town of Bakewell.
Monyash’s fortunes were at their peak in the 14th century, when it prospered through the mining of lead and the granting of a charter for a weekly market.
In modern times, Monyash is a quiet and peaceful village, with a population of a little over 300, barely half of what it was in earlier, more prosperous times. As the hub of a network of footpaths through the hills and dales, it is popular with walkers.
Around 1410, Richard de Scheladon had a son, Hugh, who married Anne, and they in turn had sons Richard, William, Thomas, Henry and John.
Hugh is mentioned in a charter of 1428 and is listed as a “juror holding a free tenement in Monyash” in 1431.
According to another charter: “On the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the time of Henry VI [2 Feb 1436/7], John Asshley, chaplain, granted to Thomas Vernon, John Stafford, William de Monyash, Thomas in the Dale, William Perysson, William Lee, John Clee, and Hugh de Scheladon, all of Monyash, co Derby, a toft and barn in Monyash.”
Toft is a word of Norse origin and is believed in this instance to have referred to the site of a house and farm.
In 1542, during Henry VIII’s reign, Humfrey Stafford or Eyam, Derbyshire, leased to “Hew Sheldon of Monyahse, jun., yeoman, of a messuage and lands in Monyashe; rent 21s 4d”. The lease is dated March 1. Under property law of the time, a messuage was generally a dwelling house with outbuildings attached to land and usually indicated a farm.
A trawl through the very early parish baptism records for the county, shows one family living in Dronfield, a town in the north-east of the county, between Chesterfield and Sheffield. There we see the christenings of Henry Sheldon (8 Sep 1598) and his sister Jane (28 Sep 1600), with their father given as George.
Dronfield in the 16th century was a centre for sheep farming and the wool trade as well as an early site for coal mining.
An unnamed Sheldon, father Anthony Sheldon, was baptised on 4 May 1602 in Chelmorton, Derbyshire, and another unnamed Sheldon, father William Sheldon, was baptised in 1617 in Bakewell.
As we get into the 17th century so Sheldon birth records mushroom, but it’s puzzling that there should be so few births recorded in the period when records began in the 1550s and the turn of the 17th century.
Just over the county boundary, in the northern end of neighbouring Staffordshire, several Sheldons are listed in the villages of Ellastone and Alstonefield from the 1550s onwards.
Ellastone was the birthplace of probably our the best-known and most-influential historical namesake, Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1663 to 1677, whose life and times we shall examine in greater detail in future articles.
FOOTNOTE: For more information on Herald Visitations, see <http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/guide/vis.shtml