blazoned; a folio manuscript sold at the dispersion of Sir Thomas Phillipps's collection in June 1893, lot 281. Many of Sheldon's manuscripts are preserved in the College of Arms.
[Catholic Miscellany, 1826, vi. 73; Foley's Records, v. 46, 849, 850; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714, iv. 1342; Nash's Worcestershire, i. 66; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 205, and Life, p. lxx; for the nephew, see Britton's Memoir of Aubrey, p. 57; Chambers's Worcestershire Biography, p. 208; Foley's Records, v. 850 (pedigree); Hamper's Dugdale, pp. 434, 455; Nicolas's Memoir of A. Vincent, pp. 92–9; Bibl. Phillippica, 1893, p. 57; Wood's Life, 1848, p. 260.]
SHELDON, GILBERT (1598–1677), archbishop of Canterbury, born at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, on 19 July 1598, was youngest son of Roger Sheldon of Stanton, Staffordshire. The father, although of ancient family, was a 'menial servant' (Wood, Athenae Oxon. iv. 854) of Gilbert Talbot, seventh earl of Shrewsbury. He matriculated at Oxford on 1 July 1614, graduated B.A. from Trinity College on 27 Nov. 1617, and M.A. on 28 June, 1620. In 1619 he was incorporated at Cambridge. In 1622 he was elected fellow of All Souls', from which college he took the degree of B.D. on 11 Nov. 1628. and D.D. on 25 June 1634 (Reg. Univ. Oxford, Oxford Hist. Soc, ii, 334, iii. 368). In 1622 he was ordained, and shortly afterwards he became domestic chaplain to Thomas, lord Coventry, the lord keeper [q. v.] On 26 Feb. 1632 he was installed prebendary of Gloucester, in 1633 he became vicar of Hackney, in 1636 rector both of Oddington, Oxford, and Ickford, Buckinghamshire (of the latter the crown was patron), and in 1639 rector of Newington, Oxford. He had early been introduced by the lord keeper to the king, who appointed him his chaplain and 'designed' him to be master of the Savoy and dean of Westminster, 'but the change of the times and rebellion that followed hindered his settlement in them'(Wood).
In his earlier years he appears to have been opposed to the 'Arminian' party (Wood, Annals, 1623), and in 1635 he was prominent in resisting, though unsuccessfully, Laud's appointment of Jeremy Taylor to a fellowship at All Souls' (see Burrows, Worthies of All Souls’, pp. 142 sqq.) But he was at least as early as 1635 a strong anti-puritan (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 16-26 April 1635). He was soon well known to the leaders of church and state, and was the friend of both Falkland and Hyde. The latter (Clarendon, Life, p. 25) says of him at this time that his 'learning, gravity, and prudence had in that time . . . raised him to such a station that he then was looked upon & equal to any preferment the church could yield ... and Sir Francis Wenman would often say when the Doctor resorted to the conversation at Great Tew, as he frequently did, that Sheldon was born and bred to be archbishop of Canterbury.' In March 1626 he was elected warden of All Souls' on the death Dr. Astley. He had already made the acquaintance of Laud, and he occasionally corresponded with him (Laud, Works, vi. 444, 520) on college business, on matters concerning the university (ib. vol. v. passim), and on the conversion of Chillingworth from Roman Catholicism. In 1634 and 1640 he was pro-vice-chancellor. In 1638 he was appointed on the commission of visitation of Merton College, on the report of which several drastic reforms were inaugurated (Brodrick, Memorials of Merton College, pp. 78 sqq.; Laud, Works, v. 546 sqq.) He heartily approved Hyde's conduct in parliament. On 6 Nov. 1640 he wrote to him, 'If any good success happen in parliament, they must thank men of your temper and prudence for it' (Cal. of Clarendon State Papers, i. 209). After the war began he was from time to time in attendance on the king. He was summoned to take part in the negotiations for the treaty of Uxbridge in February 1644, and Clarendon states that he there argued so earnestly in favour of the church as to draw on him the envy and resentment of the parliamentarians, which they made him afterwards sufficiently feel. It was on 13 April 1646, when he was in attendance on Charles in Oxford, that the king wrote the vow to restore all church lands and lay impropriations held by the crown if be should be restored to his 'just kingly rights.' This was entrusted to Sheldon's keeping and preserved by him 'thirteen years underground' (Le Neve, Lives of Bishops since the Reformation, pp. 178-9). Sheldon was with the king again in 1647 at Newmarket, and later in the Isle of Wight.
Many letters during the years before the king's death show him in constant communication with the leaders of the royalist party, especially with Hyde (ib.), who made him one of the trustees of his papers. On 30 March 1648 he was ejected from the wardenship of All Souls' by the parliamentary visitors, after a stout fight against their pretensions. He had been member of a delegacy which had resisted them at their first coming in 1647. On 12 April 1648 the visitors signed an order for his commitment to custody for refusal to surrender his lodgings, and he was removed by force. In prison at Oxford there