John SHURLEY of The Friars (MP)

Born: ABT 1546

Died: 2 Oct 1616

Buried: 26 Oct 1616, Isfield, Sussex, England

Father: Edward SHURLEY of Isfield

Mother: Joan FENNER

Married 1: Elizabeth KYME (bur. 30 May 1580)



Married 2: Frances CAPELL 14 Sep 1585


2. Catherine SHURLEY

3. John SHURLEY (m. Dau. Honeywood)


The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Second son of Edward Shurley of Isfield (d. 1558), Suss. cofferer to Henry VIII, and Joan, dau. of John Fenner of Crawley. Educ. Queens’, Camb. 1562; Clifford’s Inn; M. Temple 1565, called by 1575. Married first Elizabeth, dau. and coh. of Richard Kyme of Lewes, 1da. d.v.p.; and second, 14 Sep 1585, Frances, dau. of  Henry Capell of Little Hadham and Rayne, and Catherine Manners, 1s. 2da.

Reader, New Inn 1578-9, M. Temple 1588, 1597. bencher 1587-1603, treas. 1601-2 fee’d counsel, Hastings, Suss. 1605, Rye, Suss. by 1607 sjt.-at-law 1603-d.

J.p. Suss. by 1585-d.; commr. sewers, rape of Pevensey, Suss. 1602-at least 1605, Kent 1603, Suss. 1604, 1610, Kent and Suss. 1604, subsidy, Suss. 1608, aid 1609.

This ancient family appears to have taken its name from Shurley, a manor in the parish of Lingen, near Presteign, in the county of Hereford, but was of Isfield in Sussex, early in the reign of Henry VIII. Their first recorded ancestor in that county, John Shurley, esq. cofferer to King Henry VIII, by will, dated 1 Mar 1526, proved 23 Nov 1529, directs "to be buried in the church of Isfelde", appoints to John Shurley, his heir apparent, to be his executor; bequeaths to him "inter alia three great booles, with a cover, all gilt, pounced, which he bought of the executours of my lady the King's graunt dame, and two salts, with a cover, which were given unto my wife by hir brother, John Gorying, at her marriage". Names Parnell Grauntford his wife, deceased; William, his second son; Edward Shurley, his third son, under the age of 24, with this salvo, "if he be a pries:"; Joane and Bridget, his daughters, unmarried; he appoints Roger More, Sergaunt of the King's bakehouse, co-executor with John his son; Sir Richard Broke, Knight, Chief Baron of Exchequer, supervisor; and Thomas Weldon, the third clerk of the King's kitchen, a legatee. He mentions lands at Prestend (Presteign), Co. Hereford, in the marches of Wales. which were William Walker's, his grandfather, and Roger Shurley, "myn own father's"; and directs prayers for the soul of his grandfather and Margery his wife, and for that of his own mother. Ralph Sherley of Wiston, in his will dated 11 Feb 1509, calls this John Shurley, "cousin".

Shurley was the younger son of the gentry family based at Isfield, five miles from Lewes, that was headed in this period by his nephew Sir John Shurley. He followed a legal career in London, but also kept a house in Lewes. Returned three times for the borough under Elizabeth, he was occasionally consulted by the town authorities on legal matters. He was promoted to the rank of serjeant-at-law in 1603 and was re-elected for Lewes the following year.

Shurley was appointed to 56 committees, made five recorded speeches and delivered three reports in the 1604-10 Parliament. On 22 Mar 1604 he moved for privilege to be granted to Sir Thomas Shirley, whose daughter had married Sir John Shurley and who had been returned for Steyning only to be arrested for debt shortly before Parliament met. Five days later Shurley was named to a committee to consider the case. As a serjeant-at-law, Shurley was entitled to attend the committee for the continuance or repeal of expiring statutes that was named on 24 Mar. The committee drafted a bill, which received its second reading on 5 Jun, when it was committed to the members of the drafting committee with additions.

John Shurley of Isfield

(b. 1565 - d. 1632)

During the debate Shurley responded to Nathaniel Bacon’s motion for a proviso concerning the export of corn, arguing that the new committee should also be empowered to draft a separate measure to repeal the existing statute, but his suggestion was not taken up. On 29 Jun the members of the committee were instructed to confer with the Lords about the continuing statutes bill. The conference also considered the bill against Jesuits and seminary priests, and on 3 Jul Shurley reported the amendments to this measure agreed at the meeting, which were debated and confirmed the following day.

On 11 Jun Shurley successfully reported the bill to explain the bankruptcy laws, renamed the bill ‘for the better relief of creditors’, although he had not been named to the committee. He was among those ordered to attend the king (8 Mar) and to confer with the judges (5 Apr) over the Buckinghamshire election dispute.

In the second session Shurley was one of seven Members ordered on 19 Feb 1606 to prepare to confer with the Lords on purveyance, and he ‘set forth the occasion’ at a conference a fortnight later. He received leave of absence on 17 Mar ‘to ride the circuit’, although he may already have left, having not been mentioned in the Journal since 5 Mar, when he was appointed to the committee to draft fresh recusancy legislation. He had returned to the Commons by 1 Apr, when he was appointed to consider the bill to relieve counties of the cost of conveying malefactors to gaol, which he successfully reported eight days later.

Shurley was named to only nine committees in the third session, including the bill for the sale of the Lincolnshire estates of Herbert Pelham, the kinsman of his neighbour, Thomas Pelham of Laughton. On 4 Dec 1606 he spoke in the debate concerning the impact of the Union with Scotland on escuage, the feudal tenure of military service, and a week later he was appointed to prepare for a conference with the Lords about the Union. On the same day a motion by Shurley prompted Richard Digges to report from the sub-committee concerning the potential impact of the Union on the English shipping industry. He does not appear to have been entirely happy with what Digges said, and queried his exposition of the navigation laws. On 5 Jun Shurley spoke against Nicholas Fuller’s proposed clause allowing witnesses to defendants in Border trials, arguing ‘for defence of the law as it stands’. He was appointed to 11 committees in the fourth session, including two which may have been of interest to him for professional reasons, for bills relating to forcible entries (24 Feb 1610) and warrants of attorney (29 Mar), but he made no recorded speeches. He left no trace in the meagre records of the fifth session.

Shurley was probably in his late sixties by 1614 and his age may have deterred him from seeking re-election. He died at Lewes on 2 Oct 1616, leaving property there and at nearby Ringmer as well as the manor of Broadwater in West Sussex. He was buried three days later in All Saints’ church ‘in the alley of the little side chapel’. As his eldest son was still a minor, his widow purchased his wardship for £100. No will or administration has been found. His descendants became extinct in the male line in 1637 without further parliamentary service.


Davidson, Alan:

Shirleys of Isfield:

to Bios Page to Home Page