Open main menu

English confessor; d. in Marshalsea prison, London, probably in February or March, 1585-6. Third son of John Shelley of Michelgrove, Clapham, Sussex, he was for some time abroad in attendance on his uncle Sir Richard Shelley, Knight of St. John, the last Grand Prior of England. He was given permission to return to England in May, 1583, which he did shortly afterwards. Two accounts are extant of the petition he presented on behalf of his persecuted fellow-Catholics. One is by Peter Penkevel, who was his servant in the Marshalsea at the time of his death. This is printed by Father Pollen. Peter Penkevel says he came to London about 1584, when Mr. Robert Bellamy and others were prisoners in the Marshalsea: but Robert Bellamy was not committed there till 30 January, 1585-6. So Penkevel must be wrong in his dates, and all that he knows about the petition, which was presented (as he says, to the queen) nearly a year previously, is mere hearsay. Strype on the other hand seems to have seen the petition, and according to him it was presented to Parliament. The only result was that Richard Shelley was sent to the Marshalsea, 15 March, 1584-5. There he remained till his death, which probably took place in February or March, 1585-6. He was certainly alive and in the Marshalsea in October, 1585. He was sick when Peter Penkevel came to him, and "shortly after died, a constant confessor in the said prison".

This Richard Shelley must be distinguished from the Richard Shelley of Findon, Sussex, and All Cannings, Wilts (second son of Edward Shelley of Warminghurst, Sussex, and brother of Ven. Edward Shelley the martyr), who was committed to the Marshalsea for his religion, 13 August, 1580. Mass was said in his chamber there by the priest William Hartley, 24 August, 1582. He was still there 8 April, 1584, but was liberated soon after. He was again in prison in 1592.

STRYPE, Annals, III (Oxford, 1824), ii, 432-4; BERRY, Sussex Genealogies (London, 1830), 62; POLLEN, Acts of the English Martyrs (London, 1891), 283; Calen= dar State Papers Domestic (1581-90), 231, 276.

John B. Wainewright.