SHELLEY, Thomas (c.1578-aft. 1637), of Warminghurst, Suss.; later of Findon, Suss.

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

b. c.1578, 1st s. of Henry Shelley I* of Warminghurst, and Barbara, da. of William Cromer† of Tunstall, Kent; bro. of Henry II*. educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1595, aged 17; G. Inn 1597. m. 26 June 1600, Mary, da. of Edward Goring of Oakhurst, Suss., 6s. 5da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1623.1 d. aft. 1637.2

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft. Suss. by 1603-at least 1606;3 commr. sewers, Suss. 1610;4 feoffee, Steyning g.s. Suss. 1614.5


Shelley was the son of an important member of the West Sussex gentry, with considerable estates in Bramber rape. However, early in the reign of James I his father, Henry, was obliged to pay £900 towards the settlement of his debts, and between 1609 and 1613 Henry paid out at least another £1,500 on his behalf.6 As an officer in the Sussex militia, Shelley presumably came into contact with the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†), one of the county’s joint lord lieutenants and the dominant electoral patron at New Shoreham, for which borough Shelley was returned in 1614.7 Like his younger brother Henry, who was elected for Bramber, he left no trace on the surviving records of the Addled Parliament.

Shelley was outlawed for debt in 1617,8 but his liabilities continued to mount, and three years later his father claimed to have provided him with, or accepted responsibility for, a further £9,000, as well as sacrificing the manor of Findon, said to be worth £7,000.9 Findon passed to the Middletons of Horsham, whose heir had married one of Shelley’s sisters.10 In addition, other property was sold or mortgaged.11 Shelley inherited the manor of Muntham in the parish of Findon on his father’s death in 1623, but was obliged to sell it to John Middleton* in 1625. In 1637 he consented to the sale of the manor of Warminghurst, which had been settled on his brother Henry, but no further trace of him has been found.12 None of his descendants are known to have sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


W.P. Breach, ‘Wm. Holland, Alderman of Chichester, and the Steyning g.s.’ Suss. Arch. Colls. xliii. 67.

  • 1. W. Berry, County Gens.: Peds. of the Fams. in County of Suss. 66-7; Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 2. Suss. Manors and Advowsons ed. H.W. Dunkin (Suss. Rec. Soc. xx), 503.
  • 3. Harl. 703, f. 136;
  • 4. C181/2, f. 135.
  • 5. Breach, 67.
  • 6. Soc. Gen., Shelley mss 24-8.
  • 7. Sainty, Lords Lieutenants, 34.
  • 8. C2/Jas.I/G17/20.
  • 9. Soc. Gen., Shelley mss 24-28.
  • 10. C2/Jas.I/M13/45; VCH Suss. vi. pt. 1, p. 24.
  • 11. ‘Cal. of the Deeds and other Docs. in the Possession of the Suss. Arch. Soc.’ comp. E.H.W. Dunkin, Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxvii. 47; VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, p. 21; Soc. Gen., Shelley mss 18-19.
  • 12. Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions taken in Suss. ed. E.W.T. Attree (Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv), 203; VCH Suss. vi. pt. 1, p. 26; vi. pt. 2, p. 52.