Sir John SHELTON, Knight

Born: ABT 1472, Shelton, Norfolk, England

Died: 21 Dec 1539, England

Buried: Shelton Chancel, Shelton, Norfolk, England

Father: Ralph SHELTON (Sir)

Mother: Margaret CLERE

Married: Anne BOLEYN ABT 1497


1. John SHELTON (Sir)

2. Ralph SHELTON of Depeham (Sir)

3. Elizabeth SHELTON


5. Gabriella SHELTON



8. Thomas SHELTON

9. Margaret SHELTON


Son of Sir Ralph Shelton by his second wife, Margaret Clere. In 1492 with his father and siblings, John was mentioned in the will of his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Uvedale (Blomefield v11). As eldest son and heir, he figured prominently in Sir Ralph’s will dated 21 Mar 1497 and in it, his father exhorted John to not interfere with any settlement in Shelton or Hardwick made on his mother. The bulk of the estates and manors passed to him on his father’s death in 1498.

He was High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1504; and the same yaer he presented Sir Robert Bunnynge as rector to the church in Hardwick. 28 Nov 1505 with his brother Richard and several hundred others in Norfolk, he received a pardon from the King for any offenses in regulating trade. Around this time, he married Anne, daughter of Sir William Boleyn of Blicking co Norfolk by his wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond; and sister of Thomas Boleyn.

He was knighted in 1509, and was present as Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of Henry VIII. This is confirmed by the Book of Dignities (p259) At that time he had as his arms (azure, a plain cross , or) and for his crest a tawny Saracen's head proper. The NRS says he was High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1505 and 1523. NRS Muster Roll of 1523 shows that John held lands in Thirsford and Barney and was lord of Great Snoryng - John Clifton was his Steward at Great Snoryng. In 1518 he presented to the church at Thirsford as its patron. In 1523 he presented to the church at Shelton as its patron. In 1538 Sir John was granted the 800 year old Carrow Abbey in Norwich (Blomefield v4 p 513). He fitted the windows of the abbey with the arms of the Shelton family and their alliances. (Blomefield V4 p 259).

He was listed as being with Catalina of Aragon, Queen of England at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France (Cambden Society ser 1 vol 21 p 36). In 1530 he presented Sir John Blomefield as rector to Moring-Thorp (Blomefield v 5 p 286). In 1536 to the same church he presented James Bothe as rector to the church in Hardwick (Blomefield v5 p222)

In Apr 1533, Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir John Shelton’s brother-in-law, was crowned as Queen of England, and it is certain that her Shelton relations would have attended, and Margaret (called “Madge”) Shelton, daughter of Sir John Shelton and Anne Boleyn, personally attended the Queen. Sir John Shelton and his wife were appointed governors of the household of Princess Elizabeth. Anne Shelton became the governess of Princess Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII first wife, Catalina of Aragon. While many “romantic” works have characterized the Shelton’s treatment of Mary as quite brutal, and while part of their mandate was to make it clear to Mary that she was no longer the King’s legitimate daughter and heir, their treatment could not have been as harsh as sometimes suggested. Mary in her Privy Purse expenditures gave small gifts to the Shelton daughters, settled an annuity on Lady Anne Shelton in her widowed hood and seems to have kept some good will with that family, which would have been unlikely if their treatment had been so harsh.  Mary and Elizabeth remained in the Sheltons' care until at least fall of 1536.

In a letter written by Queen Anne to Lady Anne Shelton late 1535, early 1536, the Queen discusses Mary Tudor’s obstinance in refusing to deny the legality of her marriage to her mother, and directed Anne Shelton to not try to turn “her from any willful courses, because she could not do me any good or evil and do your duty about her, according to the King’s commands, as I am assured you do”.

Anne Boleyn’s fall from her high station culminated in her trial for adultery, treason and incest and her execution 19 May 1536 at the Tower of London. Her Shelton relations must have regarded Anne’s disgrace as a catastrophe, though in reality, the Sheltons did not suffer much from this setback. Princess Elizabeth, now illegitimate, was left for a time in the care of the Sheltons, though funds for her upkeep had dried up so considerably that Sir John Shelton wrote to Thomas Cromwell, 16 Aug 1536 complaining about the situation.

When Anne was executed, there was no one to give the necessary orders about the child´s clothing.  To make matters worse, John Shelton, was disrupting the daily routine by imprudently insisting that Elizabeth should take her meals with everyone else in the hall instead of eating in her own nursery quarters. Much upset by this interference, Lady Bryan wrote to protest to the King, and at the end of Jun Henry gave orders for Elizabeth´s household to be reorganized, allowing her thirty-two servants. Elizabeth appears to have spent time through out her childhood in Shelton where there was a pew named Lady Elizabeth's pew after her.

In 1538, Sir John Shelton was granted ownership of the 800 year old Carrow Abbey in Norwich where he fitted the windows with the arms of the Shelton family and their alliances. In 1539, he settled his manor of Sayer’s in Stratton on his wife Anne for her life.

He died 21 Dec 1539 aged 62 and is buried in Shelton Cancel with a brass monument over his head. The circumscription about the tomb in brass is,

Johannes Shelton, Miles quondam istius pagi Dominus,

Si Fortunam, si Vitam, is Felicitatem, scice cupis,

Hec Carmina tibi dicent

Lege, Vive, et Vale

Morboram vicia, et Vite Mala marima fugit,

Nunc careo pacis, pace fruor placida.

Virit Annos 62 Ao 1539.

Bene merenti Ucot posuit.  

The the south side of his tomb are the arms of Shelton, Illegh, Burgullion, Shelton quartered in the nombreil, Cockfield, Shelton and Boleyn impaled. On the north side are Shelton and Boleyn impaled, Boleyn and Butler Earl of Ormond quartered and Shelton and Boleyn impaled again. The east window of the chancel was glazed at his charge and in it is his own effigies in a praying posture with his arms on his surcoat and that of his wife with the Boleyn arms. Over his head the arms of Shelton and Boleyn are impaled and over her's Shelton and Burgullion quarterly "or and gules", and Cockfield impaled with Boleyn. Sir John Shelton the younger was his son and heir.

Blomefield V5 p 266/267 "Shelton", V4 p 259,513;v1;v5 p222 "Hardwick"
Blomefield v5 p 286 "Moring-Thorp", v11 p 234-239
Cambden Society
Hayden's Book of Dignities;Hayden, Joseph p 759
Norfolk Record Society; Visitation of Norfolk

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