Sheldon Surname Genealogy

The Sheldon surname derived
from place-names found in Derbyshire and Warwickshire in the English
Midlands. Sheldon here had its root in the Old
words scylf meaning “shelf” or
“ledge” and dun meaning “hill” – i.e.
a hill with a flat top.
The early
spellings were Scelhadun in Derbyshire (in the 1086 Domesday Book) and
in Warwickshire (in the 1190 pipe rolls).

Sheldon Resources on

Sheldon Ancestry

EnglandThe English families named Sheldon initially
divided into Warwickshire and Derbyshire Sheldons.
Among the Warwickshire Sheldons were several
lines of knightly, landed gentry.  The
Derbyshire Sheldons on the other hand were mainly yeomen farmers,
although one
of them – Gilbert Sheldon – did rise to become Archbishop of Canterbury
in 1663.

Warwickshire.  These Sheldons first
appeared in the parish
of Sheldon, now a suburb of Birmingham.
Around the time of the Black Death in the 14th century, Ralph
moved his family to Rowley Regis in Staffordshire.

Subsequently Sheldons migrated
to Worcestershire, first leasing Abberton manor and then purchasing
manor.  Ralph Sheldon acquired land at
Broadway in 1539 at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries and
built a
manor there.

Ralph also acquired land around this time
at Cole Orton in
Leicestershire.  Cole Orton was so named
because it had coal
seams.  Ralph’s son William and his
descendants would grow rich from this coal.
William also
started weaving
tapestries in workshops he had set up.  These
tapestries are on display today at a number of museums and stately
homes around
the country.

Later Sheldons were
supporters of the Stuart cause.  Ralph
Sheldon was a Royalist at the time of the Civil War.
Domenic Sheldon served in James II’s Irish
army at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and afterwards, in exile,
joined the
French army.

These Sheldons were
covered in E.A.B. Barnard’s 1935 book The
Sheldon Family of Worcestershire and Warwickshire

There were Sheldons in Birmingham and its environs from the 1500’s.  Benjamin Sheldon, a file maker and gunsmith, was working there in the early 1800’s.

Derbyshire.  The Sheldon place and name
here originated in
the Peak District near the town of Bakewell.  The earliest
recorded, from the
1623 Visitation of Derbyshire, was
Richard Sheldon of the village of Monyash, born around 1385.  Richard Sheldon in the 1662 Visitation
showed a Sheldon pedigree of
ten generations from this Richard.  Isaac
Sheldon who emigrated to America was also of this tenth generation.

Just across
the county boundary in Staffordshire, several Sheldons were recorded in
villages of Ellastone and Alstonefield from the 1550’s onwards.  Ellastone was the birthplace in 1598 of
Godfrey Sheldon who was to become the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Burselm in Staffordshire date from about 1650.

The Sheldons were local gentry at

in Derbyshire during the 17th century.
Philip Sheldon survived the great plague of 1665, but Agnes and
Sheldon did not.

The 1881 census
showed that the main bulk of Sheldons remained in the West Midlands.  But they had shifted northwards with the main
numbers being in Staffordshire and additional numbers in Cheshire and
Lancashire. Sheldons were noticeable in
Staffordshire at Tipton, Leek and West Bromwich.  

America.  Early Sheldons came to New

Godfrey Sheldon from
Derbyshire was in Saco, Maine around 1660.
His son William, fleeing there because of Indian raids, moved to
Massachusetts where he died in 1691.
William’s son Godfrey had been killed by Indians in Maine; while
daughter Susannah became one of the main accusers during the Salem
witch trials
in 1692.

One descendant through a son
Skelton was Asa Sheldon, born in 1788.
He was a farmer in Wilmington, Massachusetts and wrote his Life of Asa G. Sheldon: Wilmington Farmer
in 1862.

Isaac Sheldon had arrived in Windsor, Connecticut also
from Derbyshire
sometime in the 1650’s.  His descendants
were numerous.  When he died in 1708 he
was reported to have had fourteen children and 114 grandchildren. Descendants are said to have included Harriet
Beecher Stowe, Humphrey Bogart and Franklin Roosevelt.

Sheldon descendants here have included:

  • Ensign John Sheldon who survived the Deerfield
    by Indians in Massachusetts in 1704.
    Sheldons did remain in Deerfield
    afterwards.  George Sheldon, born in
    1818, lived to be ninety-eight.  He
    founded in Deerfield one of the first historic preservation societies
  • Seth Sheldon from Hartford,
    Connecticut who headed north to Vermont in the 1790’s.
    His son Seth settled in western New York in
    1826 and his grandson Herbert

    moved to Kansas in 1857. 
  • and Alexander Sheldon
    from Hartford, Connecticut who moved to Montgomery county, New York
    around the
    year 1800.  He was the Speaker of the New
    York State Assembly from 1804 to 1812, the last Speaker to wear the
    Cocked Hat
    as a badge of office.  His
    son Smith Sheldon was a successful Albany
    merchant who established the publishing house of Sheldon and Co in New
    City; his daughter Delia Sheldon the mother of the
    Presbyterian missionary
    Sheldon Jackson who established more than a hundred new churches in the

John Sheldon also arrived in New England sometime in the
1650’s.  He made his home in Rhode Island.  The main line of descent was through his son
John and grandson Isaac:

  • one Quaker line here moved from Rhode Island to upstate
    New York in the late 1700’s.  Wallace
    Sheldon left there in 1875 for San Francisco and made his name as an
    engineer and builder along the California coast.   
  • while another line of Baptist ministers was
    in Ohio by the early 1800’s.  The Rev. Henry O. Sheldon was
    well-known itinerant preacher and educational promoter there.

South Africa.  Charles
Sheldon from Providence, Rhode Island
was the captain of the American ship Abby
and Sally
that was wrecked off Table Bay in Cape Colony in 1808.

Sheldon was a trader from Somerset who came to the Cape Colony as a
young man
sometime in the 1870’s.  His mother and
two sisters joined him and they settled in the Paarl district.  He was captain of the Paarl District Mounted
Troops at the time of the Boer War.  His
son Thomas distinguished himself in the campaigns in German South West
during World War One and lived onto 1960.

Sheldon Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Sheldon Names

Gilbert Sheldon was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1663
until his death in 1677.

Wallace Sheldon
was a notable
architectural engineer and builder along the California coast in the
Sidney Sheldon
, born Sidney
Schechtel, was a prominent TV producer and writer of romantic novels in
during the 1970’s

Select Sheldons Today

  • 11,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Staffordshire)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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