Sheldon, Richard (DNB00)

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SHELDON, RICHARD (d. 1642?), divine, was probably descended from a branch of the catholic family of Sheldon of Beoley in Worcestershire. Destined for the priesthood, he was sent during the pontificate of Clement VIII to the English Jesuit College at Rome. Having attained great proficiency there, he returned to England, visiting Spain on his way. About 1610 he was imprisoned as a Jesuit. Always holding moderate views, he published in 1611 a treatise entitled 'The Lawfulness of the Oath of Allegiance.' Soon afterwards, on his professing himself a protestant, he was released. He was immediately employed by King James, together with William Warmington, another convert, to write a book against Vorstius (Cal. State Papers, 1611-18, p. 119). Subsequently he published several works against Catholicism on his own account.

For a time Sheldon enjoyed the kind's favour. He was appointed a royal chaplain, and received the honorary degree of D.D. from Cambridge University. The negotiations for the Spanish match, however, inclined James to tolerance, and Sheldon's zeal against his old faith became distasteful. In 1622 he preached a sermon against those bearing the mark of the beast, for which he received a severe reprimand (Harl. MS. 389, f. 228). He never regained the royal favour, though he endeavoured to propitiate Charles by writing in defence of the royal prerogative (Cal. State Papers, 1640-1, p. 374). He died in obscurity soon after 1641.

Besides several sermons, he published:

  1. 'Motives of R. S. for his Renunciation of Communion with the Bishop of Rome,' London, 1612, 4to.
  2. 'A Survey of the Miracles of the Church of Rome,' London, 1616, 4to.
  3. 'Man's Last End, or the Glorious Vision and Fruition of God,' London, 1634, 4to.

[Foley's Records of the English Province, vii. 1016; Gardiner's Hist. of England, iv. 346.]

E. I. C.