Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sheffield, Robert

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Contains subarticle Edmund Sheffield, first Baron Sheffield (1521–1549).

SHEFFIELD, Sir ROBERT (d. 1518), speaker of the House of Commons, was son of Sir Robert Sheffield, by Genette, daughter and coheiress of Alexander Lownde of Butterwick, Lincolnshire. His father seems to have been living on 20 Nov. 1486, as he is on that date described as Robert Sheffield, junior (but cf. Cal. of Inquis. post mortem, iii. 422, where Robert Sheffield is entered as dying in 2 Ric. III). He was a commander at the battle of Stoke, and was knighted after the fight. He also held the office of recorder of London, from which we know that he was a barrister. Bernard Andreas mentions that he resigned the recordership in April 1508. He was speaker of the House of Commons in 1510 and 1512. In the second volume of the ‘Letters and Papers of Henry VIII’ there is a curious account of his examination on 13 Feb. 1518 on a charge of harbouring murderers. He died between 8 Aug. and 9 Dec. 1518, and was buried in the Augustinian church, London. His will is in ‘Testamenta Vetusta’ (p. 555). He married, first, Helen, daughter and heiress of Sir John Delves of Doddington, Cheshire; and, secondly, a wife whose christian name was Anne. Leland says of Sir Robert: ‘He set up highly the name of the Sheffeldes by marriage of the daughter and sole Heyre of one Delves, to whom was beside descendid the Landes of Gibthorp and Babington. This Sheffeld recorder began to build stately at Butterwik, as it apperith by a great Towr of Brike.’ His son by his first wife, also Sir Robert Sheffield (d. 1531), was father, by a first wife, Jane, daughter of Sir George Stanley (d. 1497), lord Strange of Knockyn, of

Edmund Sheffield, first Baron Sheffield (1521–1549). The latter was at first in wardship to Lord Rochford, but on 2 Jan. 1538 he passed under the control of the Earl of Oxford. He was sent up to Cromwell, and became one of his gentlemen; but he seems to have been an unruly youth, and in July 1538 was in prison, whence he wrote an undutiful letter, apparently to the Earl of Oxford, his father-in-law, and a curious ‘scholastical letter’ to Cromwell (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, xiii. i. 1409, 1410). He was soon released, and was of sufficient importance to be designed for a barony by Henry VIII's will (Acts of the Privy Council, 1547–50, pp. 16, 18, 35). He was accordingly created Baron Sheffield of Butterwick on 18 Feb. 1547. Going, however, with Northampton to quell Ket's rebellion, he was slain at Norwich in August 1549. A curious and realistic ‘Epytaphe of the Lorde Sheffelde's Death’ is contained in the rare ‘Eglogs, Epytaphes, and Sonnetes’ by Barnabe Googe [q. v.] ‘Great his skill in music,’ wrote Fuller, ‘who wrote a book of sonnetts according to the Italian fashion.’ Bale and others mention the sonnets, but they do not seem to have been preserved (cf. Warton, English Poetry, iii. 342; Walpole, Royal and Noble Authors, i. 277). He left by his wife Anne, daughter of John de Vere, fifteenth earl of Oxford, a son John Sheffield, second baron (d. 1568), to whom the king by patent granted his own marriage, and who was by Douglas, daughter of William, first baron Howard of Effingham [q. v.], father of Edmund Sheffield, third baron Sheffield and first earl of Mulgrave [q. v.] Portraits of the two Sir Roberts and of Edmund Sheffield are reproduced in Grace's ‘History of the Family of Grace.’

[Stonehouse's Hist. of the Isle of Axholme, p. 268; Metcalfe's Visitation of Lincoln, 1592, p. 64; Manning's Speakers of the House of Commons, p. 156; Leland's Itin. iv. 18; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII; Grace's Hist. of the Family of Grace; Testamenta Vetusta; Metcalfe's Knights, p. 30; Dep.-Keeper of Publ. Records, 9th Rep. App. ii.; Wriothesley's Chron. i. 187, ii. 19; Machyn's Diary, p. 370; Acts of Privy Council, 1547–50, p. 298; Baines's Lancashire, v. 88.]

W. A. J. A.