SHELDON, Ralph (1741-1822), of Donnington, nr. Newbury, Berks. and King Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



24 May 1804 - 22 Nov. 1822

Family and Education

b. 14 Sept. 1741,1 1st s. of William Sheldon of Weston, Warws. and Margaret Frances Disney, da. of James Rooke of Bigsweir House, Mon. educ. St. Gregory’s, Douai 1755. m. (1) 1780, Jane (d. 21 Mar. 1812),2 da. of Adm. Francis Holburne† of Menstrie, Clackmannan and Lymington, Hants, 1s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 17 June 1818, ?Sarah Broom of Great Titchfield Street, Mdx.,3 s.p. suc. fa. 1780. d. 22 Nov. 1822.

Offices Held

Col. Oxford loyal vols. 1803; lt.-col. 3 Warws. militia 1808.

Mayor, Wilton 1808-9.


Ralph Sheldon, who was descended from the seventeenth-century antiquary of the same name, abandoned his family’s traditional Catholic allegiance and was returned for Wilton, on the interest of the 11th earl of Pembroke, from 24 May 1804. That day he was also sworn in as a member of the corporation of Wilton, to which he had been elected in 1789, and in 1816 he signed the entry in the minute book for the return of Lord FitzHarris* at a by-election.4 Following the death of his first wife, whose brother James Rooke was Member for Monmouthshire, 1785-1805, he remarried in 1818, aged 76. At the Wilton election that year his ‘urbanity of manner and long acquaintance with the inhabitants’ were commented on.5 In 1819 he sold his ancestral home, Weston, Warwickshire, to the Manchester cotton manufacturer George Philips*, then Member for Steyning, though the property was rented for some years by Lord Clonmell, former Member for New Romney, before being rebuilt and occupied by its new owner.6 In the Commons, Sheldon, who was again returned unopposed for Wilton at the general election of 1820, continued to be an inactive supporter of the Liverpool ministry. He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and against Maberly’s resolution on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., and repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821. He paired against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. He voted against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822, his last known vote. He had previously voted for Catholic relief, but was not listed in the majority in favour of this, 28 Feb. 1821. He made no reported speeches in this period.

Pembroke commented to Lord Normanton, 19 Nov. 1822, that ‘from what I have heard I am led to fear that Sheldon is in such an alarming state of illness as to preclude much hopes of his recovery’.7 He died, ‘universally esteemed and respected’, on the 22nd.8 By his will, dated 6 Nov. 1822, he, ‘mindful of my mortality’, left his entire estate, which included personal wealth sworn under £1,000, to his wife, whom he named as ‘Rebecca’.9 A Rebecca Sheldon, supposedly his widow, died at her London home in Fludyer Street, 23 Feb. 1823.10 As stipulated, Sheldon was buried in the family vault at St. Leonard’s Church, Beoley, Worcestershire.11 He was succeeded by his only son, Edward Ralph Charles (1782-1836), of Brailes, Warwickshire, Liberal Member for Warwickshire South, 1835-6, and his son, Henry James (1823-1901), the last of the line.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. E.A.B. Barnard, The Sheldons, 74.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1812), i. 395.
  • 3. Ibid. (1818), ii. 81.
  • 4. Wilts. RO, Wilton borough recs. G25/1/22, ff. 216, 252, 289.
  • 5. Salisbury Jnl. 22 June 1818.
  • 6. Barnard, 74; VCH Warws. v. 55.
  • 7. Wilton House mss.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. (1822), ii. 645.
  • 9. PROB 11/1671/320; IR26/976/440.
  • 10. Gent. Mag. (1823), i. 284; PROB 6/199.
  • 11. Barnard, 88.
  • 12. Gent. Mag. (1836), ii. 431; Barnard, 77-78.