Sir Ralph SHELTON, Knight

Born: 1430

Died: 16 Jul 1497, Shelton, Norfolk, England

Father: John SHELTON

Mother: Margaret BREWES

Married 1: Joan ? (d. 1471)


1. Margaret SHELTON

2. Elizabeth SHELTON

Married 2: Margaret CLERE (dau. of Robert Clere and Elizabeth Uvedale)


3. Alice SHELTON

4. John SHELTON (Sir Knight)

5. Ralph SHELTON (Esq.)

6. Elizabeth SHELTON

7. Richard SHELTON

Probably the only child and heir of John Shelton, born in 1430 and only months old at his father’s death. 17 Aug 1431, Sir William Phelip was given custody of the lands and marriage of Ralph, son and heir of John Shelton, until he came of age and later writs ordered Sir William to pay charges for maintaining the house, enclosure and buildings of the Shelton lands. In 1432, the King presented to the church at Snoring Magna in Ralph’s name since he was a minor and Ralph himself presented in 1459. 19 Nov 1453, Ralph Shelton Esq, Sir Miles Stapleton and William Calthorpe received a commission to arrest and detain Nicholas Goldsmyth late of Norwich, yeoman and William Shelton, late of Norwich, gentleman.  26 Jun 1459, Ralph, Sir Thomas Descales, Thomas Brewse and the Shelton of Norfolk were ordered by the King to arrest a number of local persons who “daily commit riots and congregations in Norfolk”. 14 May 1462, Ralph along with Sir William Yelverton, Sir Robert Conyers, William Calthorpe, John Paston, John Knyvett, John Barney, William Bokewode and other were ordered to place watchmen and signals “called Bekeyn’s” within Norfolk according to the old custom for defence”. In 1460, he presented Master Thomas Marke as rector of Hardwick and the NRS says he was a kinsman to the Sheltons while Blomefield noted the arms of Marke in stain glass windows at Shelton Hall, though the exact nature of the relationship is not stated. In 1469, Ralph and Sir Thomas Brewse together presented to the church at Gunton and in 1470 he was again patron to the church in Shelton. 20 Jun 1470 Ralph and Richard Southwell among others were directed by the King to assay the lands of Sir George Neville of Latimer and to determine who Neville’s next heir might be.

By this time, he was married to Margaret, daughter of Robert Clere of Ormesby co Norfolk by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas de Uvedale. Margaret was his second wife, his first wife Joan having died by 1471. 1 May 1484 and 8 Dec 1484 Richard III directed Ralph Shelton; John, Duke of Suffolk; Thomas, Earl of Surrey; John, Lord Fitzwalter; Sir Henry Grey; Sir Edmund Bedingfield; Sir William Boleyn; William Paston; Richard Southwell; John Paston; Robert Clere and others to array men at arms in Norfolk, no doubt readying for an assault by the Lancastrians. 4 May 1484, the King pardoned William Warner of Hardwick for not appearing before justices to answer Ralph Shelton concerning a debt of 40 shillings. 10 May 1485, Ralph and others were directed by the King to arrest Thomas Hansard and bring him before the King. 5 Feb 1485, King Richard III made Ralph a commissioner of the peace in Norfolk along with John, Earl of Lincoln; William Calthorpe; William Boleyn and Robert Clere.

Ralph faired well under Yorkist rule, but after Richard’s fall at Bosworth, he also prospered under the new Tudor king. 7 Apr 1487, King Henry VII fearing an attack by Yorkists to regain the throne, commissioned John, Duke of Suffolk; John, Earl of Oxford; John, Lord Fitzwalter; Sir William Knyvett; Sir Henry Heydon; Sir Phillip Calthorpe; William Boleyn and Ralph Shelton to array and guard the seacoast and warn people in that county of the coming of the King’s enemies. 18 Sep 1487, Sir John Paston; Phillip FitzLewes and Ralph Shelton along with the masters of 3 ships were appointed to protect the coasts of Norfolk.  He was knighted as a Knight Bachelor before the coronation of Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII, which he attended and was High Sheriff of Norfolk in that same year. Kathryn M Brown, p 23, says he was knighted in 1485 and named Knight of the Bath in 1488. In 1487 he was also granted the custody of the marriage, body and lands of Ralph, brother and heir of Robert Berney, Esq of Gunton. 28 Aug 1490 John, Duke of Suffolk; John, Earl of Oxford; Sir Thomas Lovell; Sir William Boleyn; Sir Ralph Shelton; Richard Southwell and others were commissioned to raise men at arms and place beacons “in the usual places” to warn the people of the coming of the King’s enemies. 5 Feb 1491, Ralph; Richard Southwell and others were ordered to hold the land and custody of Arthur, son of Sir George Hopton. 12 May 1491 he and others were commissioned to muster men and if necessary to lead them against invaders led under “Charles called himself King of France”. In 1492 Sir Ralph was executor of the will of his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Clere and with his children was left a legacy by her. He and others were directed to be commissioners of the peace and oyer and terminer Feb 1495. In this same time frame, he and others were directed to assay the lordships, lands and manors of Sir Robert Chamberlain, rebel and traitor. 14 May 1496, 12 Nov 1496, 12 Feb 1497 and 8 May 1497, he was directed to be a commissioner of the peace in Norfolk.

Sir Ralph Shelton died 16 Jul 1497. His will was dated 21 Mar 1497 and proved 13 May 1498, with his IPM held 27 Oct 1498. In his will, Sir Raufe Shelton, knight requested to be buried in the chancel of the church of Shelton by the principal image of Our Lady in a tomb that he had already prepared. He asked his executors to complete the work on the church of St Mary in Shelton that he had begun and he left a number of other monetary legacies to that church and to the churches in Hardwick, Freton, Morningthorpe, Bedingham, Osmundeston, Snoring Magna, and Wangford. He asked for masses to be said for his soul and left legacies to the four orders of Friars in Norwich. He left the residue to his wife, Lady Margaret, to his son John. Sir Robert Clere (his wife’s brother) and Master Symon Dryver were named executors. Ralph also made specific partitions and assignments of his estate to John his son and heir, his wife Margaret, sons Ralph and Richard.

Margaret’s will was dated 23 Dec 1499 and proved 3 Dec 1500. She 'wills to be buried in the chancel of Shelton Church by her husband in a tomb which is ordained to that intent', and she left a number of bequests to the church in Shelton and other churches in Norfolk, and the remainder to John Shelton her son and to her other children.

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