SHEFFIELD, John (-d.1614), of Butterwick, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

2nd s. of Edmund Sheffield, 3rd Lord Sheffield (d.1646), and his 1st w. Ursula, da. of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby, Lincs.; half-bro. of James†.1 m. (settlement 20 Nov. 1600)2 Grizel (d.1615), da. of Sir Edmund Anderson, c.j.c.p. 1582-1605, of Flixborough, Lincs. and Eyworth, Beds., 1s. 4da.3 kntd. 23 Mar. 1605.4 d. 3 Dec. 1614.5

Offices Held

Member, 1st earl of Nottingham’s embassy to Spain 1605.6

Commr. sewers, Lincs. and Notts. 1610.7


Sheffield’s ancestors acquired property in the Isle of Axholme under Edward I, and first represented Lincolnshire in 1442. Sir Robert Sheffield was Speaker in 1508 and 1510, and on the accession of Edward VI the family was raised to the peerage.8 Sheffield’s parents were married by a seminary priest, and were for a time thought to be ‘slack and negligent’ in the practice of the Protestant religion. Nevertheless, his father went on to become an Armada veteran, was granted a castle and estates in Yorkshire, and reformed sufficiently to be appointed lord president of the Council in the North in 1603.9

At the election to James I’s first Parliament, Sheffield was returned for Lincolnshire, which he had previously represented in 1601. His only mention in the records of the first session was as part of the delegation sent by the Commons to thank the king following the resolution of the Buckinghamshire election dispute (12 Apr. 1604).10 He was knighted in March 1605, shortly before accompanying lord admiral Nottingham (Charles Howard†) on an embassy to Spain. On arrival, their disembarkation at The Groyne (Corunna) was delayed until a dispute with Sir Charles Cornwallis* over precedence had been settled.11 Sheffield returned to England in time for the second session of Parliament, in which he was named to three committees, on bills to enable the future Sir John Hotham* to make a jointure for his wife (25 Jan. 1606), prevent the increase of pasture in Herefordshire (20 Mar.), and avoid double payment of debts upon shop books (18 April).12 In the third session Sheffield was nominated to two committees, on a bill to facilitate the collection of debts (26 Feb. 1607) and on another introduced by Sir Herbert Croft for the better maintenance of husbandry in certain Herefordshire parishes (4 March).13

Towards the end of 1607 Sheffield seems to have gone abroad with his brothers, their father having first consulted the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) about the safety of their prospective journey.14 He was in France at the end of 1609, and did not return until April 1610, by which time the fourth session had been in progress for two months.15 His only appointments were to two conferences with the Lords, one on the judicial functions of the Council in the North (4 July 1610), and another on the enforcement of Canon Law not confirmed by Parliament (5 July).16 He played no known part in the brief fifth session.

Sheffield did not stand at the general election in 1614, but perhaps supported his wife’s brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Monson*, in an unsuccessful bid to represent the county. On 3 Dec. Sheffield drowned with two of his brothers while crossing the flooded Ouse at Whitgift Ferry. It was reported that ‘the ferrymen were drunk, and fell so ill-favourably to their labour that the boat was overwhelmed’.17 His body was never found. His father advanced to the earldom of Mulgrave in 1626, and his half-brother James sat for a Cornish borough in the Short Parliament. Administration of Sheffield’s estate was not granted until his son, Edmund, came of age in 1630; the latter, a parliamentarian in the Civil War, succeeded to the peerage in 1646.18 None of his descendants sat in the Commons.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Paula Watson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. CP, ix. 390-1.
  • 2. Lincs. AO, Sheff/CR/9.
  • 3. PROB 11/129, f. 32.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 137.
  • 5. F. Drake, Eboracum, 131.
  • 6. R. Treswell, A relation of ... the journey of Charles, earl of Nottingham ... ambassador to the king of Spain (1605), STC 24268, sig. B2.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 119.
  • 8. CP, ix. 388.
  • 9. VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), ii. 395; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 24; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 396-8.
  • 10. CJ, i. 169b.
  • 11. Lansd. 255, f. 497v.
  • 12. CJ, i. 260a, 287b, 300a.
  • 13. Ibid. 343a, 347b.
  • 14. HMC Hatfield, xix. 266.
  • 15. HMC Rutland, i. 421; J.W. Stoye, Eng. Travellers Abroad, 51, 61.
  • 16. CJ, i. 445b, 446b.
  • 17. HMC Franciscan, 71; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 263; Yorks. Wills (Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. xxviii), 205.
  • 18. Cal. of Admons. at Lincoln ed. C.W. Foster (Lincoln Rec. Soc. xvi), 330.