at Hampton Court on the 31st. He was elected to parliament for Bridgnorth on 17 Jan. 1625–6, and for Guildford on 3 Feb. sitting for the former constituency; but in the commons his lack of debating power and general incompetence rendered him no match for Coke and the opposition lawyers (cf. Gardiner, vi. 240, 243, 268, vii. 44, 366). In November 1625 he was placed on a commission to compound with recusants. On 6 March 1627–8 he was re-elected for Bridgnorth, and in 1628 was appointed treasurer of the Inner Temple. In February 1628–9 he defended Montagu's appointment as bishop of Chichester, and in December 1633 was placed on a commission to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction in England and Wales. In October 1634, being, according to Clarendon, ‘an old, illiterate, useless person,’ Shelton was forced to resign, and was succeeded by Sir Edward (afterwards Lord) Littleton [q. v.] He retired to his manor of West Bromwich, which he acquired from his cousin William Stanley in 1626, and lived there unmolested during the civil war. He died in December 1647, and was buried at West Bromwich on the 7th. By his wife Lettice (d. 1642), daughter of Sir Robert Fisher of Packington, Warwickshire, he had no issue, and West Bromwich passed to John, son of Shelton's brother Robert.
[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1625–34 passim; Gardiner's Hist. of England, vols. vi. vii.; Clarendon's Rebellion, v. 204; Dugdale's Origin. Juridiciales, pp. 168, 171, and Chronica Series, p. 107; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Off. Ret. Members of Parliament; Shaw's Staffordshire, ii. 127; Willett's West Bromwich, pp. 13, 14, and pedigree ad fin.; Simms's Bibliotheca Staffordiensis.]
SHELTON, THOMAS (fl. 1612), first translator of ‘Don Quixote’ into English, may possibly be identical with the Thomas Sheldon who was fourth son of William Sheldon of Broadway, Worcestershire (a kinsman of Edward Sheldon [q. v.] of Beoley (cf. Nash, Worcestershire, i. 145). One Thomas Sheldon, described as a gentleman of Worcestershire, matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, at the age of fifteen, on 23 Nov. 1581, and was refused the degree of B.A. when he supplicated for it on 10 Feb. 1584–5 (Oxf. Univ. Reg. Oxf. Hist. Soc. ii. i. 227, ii. 105). Shelton seems to have entered the service of Theophilus Howard, lord Howard of Walden, afterwards second earl of Suffolk [q. v.] Acquiring a knowledge of Spanish, he during 1607, at the request ‘of a very deere friend that was desirous to understand the subject,’ translated ‘[the first part of] the Historie of Don-Quixote, out of the Spanish tongue, into the English.’ The task only occupied him forty days. The first part of Cervantes's novel originally appeared at Madrid early in 1605. Shelton used a reprint of the original Spanish, which was issued at Brussels by Roger Velpius in 1607. But after his friend had glanced at his rendering Sheldon cast it aside, where it lay ‘long time neglected in a corner.’ At the end of four or five years, ‘at the entreaty of friends, he was content to let it come to light,’ on condition that ‘some one or other would peruse and amend the errors escaped, his many affairs hindering him from undergoing that labour.’ On 19 Jan. 1611–12 the work, whether with or without another's revision, was licensed for publication to Edward Blount and William Barret, under the title of ‘The delightfull history of the wittie knight, Don Quishote.’ Shelton signed the dedication to Lord Howard of Walden, describing himself as ‘his honour's most affectionate servitor.’
The book at once achieved the popularity that Cervantes's work has always retained in this country. References to episodes in Don Quixote's story were soon frequent in English literature. As early as 1613 Robert Anton concluded his ‘Moriomachia’ with an allusion to the ‘little dangerous Combate’ between ‘Don Quishotte and the Barber, about Mambrinoes inchaunted Helmet.’ Beaumont and Fletcher's ‘Knight of the Burning Pestle,’ which burlesqued in Cervantes's spirit the extravagances of heroic romance, was also published in 1613, but the publisher asserted that it was written a year before Shelton's translation appeared. That Dulcinea appealed to public taste is proved by the publication of a ballad on her history in 1615. A lost play, entitled ‘Cardenio,’ which was acted at court on 8 June 1613, was, as its title proves, a dramatised version of an episode in Cervantes's novel. Humphrey Moseley entered the piece on the ‘Stationers' Register’ in 1653 as the work of Fletcher and Shakespeare, but no copy is extant to prove or disprove the allegation. There is no other evidence that Shakespeare was acquainted with Shelton's achievement.
Very few copies of the original edition of Shelton's translation of the first part survive. A perfect copy, constructed from two less perfect copies, belongs to Mr. Henry Yates Thompson; other good copies are at the British Museum, in the libraries of Clare College, Cambridge, of Wadham College, Oxford, and of Mr. Leonard Courtney (cf. Times, November 1896), and one was formerly in Lord Ashburnham's collection.
In the summer of 1614 Felipe Roberto of