Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shelton, Richard

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SHELTON, SHELDON, or SHILTON, Sir RICHARD (d. 1647), solicitor-general, was the elder of the two sons of John Shelton (d. 1601), a mercer, of Birmingham, by his wife Barbara, daughter and heir of Francis Stanley of West Bromwich. He studied law at the Inner Temple, and had the good fortune to be employed by the Duke of Buckingham on his private affairs. Buckingham made him one of his council, and was probably the means of Shelton's appointment as a reader at the Inner Temple in 1624. To the same influence he owed his selection as solicitor-general in October 1625; he was knighted by Charles I 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.]

A. F. P.