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William Sheldon's tomb, Beoley

William's tomb at Beoley Church.

©Hilary L Turner

William Sheldon of Beoley and Weston was probably born about 1500. He attended the Inns of Court in London where he received a legal training. Around 1526 he married the daughter of a Warwickshire wool merchant, which brought him his first contacts in local society.

He made a substantial investment in monastic lands in and around Pershore and Evesham when the dissolution of the monasteries brought their possessions onto the open market. He served four monarchs in a variety of local administrative posts. He was also four times MP and four times sheriff of Worcestershire.



He had influential connections, in particular his uncle, Nicholas Heath, who was successively bishop of Rochester, Worcester and then Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor until 1559.

William's second marriage, around 1554, possibly opened the way for a connection to Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, Queen Elizabeth's favourite. William died in 1570 and was buried at Beoley with some splendour. Much later his son, Ralph, erected the tomb and composed his father's epitaph.

William Sheldon was one of many Elizabethans who thought it was practical to encourage the settlement of 'stranger' - meaning foreign born - craftsmen, skilled in the manufacture of luxury goods such as glass-making, wood carving, engraving, printing, painting, weaving of woollen fabrics in new ways and in tapestry weaving.

As others had already done, Sheldon's solution was to bring skilled men to his property at Barcheston, offering to local men otherwise without work in the neighbourhood, incentives to re-train.

Biography of William Sheldon (pdf) -->

William Sheldon's epitaph, Beoley

Sheldon's epitaph at Beoley Church.

©Hilary L Turner


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