Shelley Successions at Sudbury

Shelley Successions at Sudbury

For centuries the Shelley’s were ‘freemen’ trading in Sudbury, clearly succeeding directly from Richard Shelley who is recorded in 1632. The family operated in the woollen weaving business employing apprentices and yeomen weavers. Eventually they moved into blacksmithing and established a flourishing operation at the east of the town in the area known as Wigan End.

In the 1860s Charles Thomas Shelley was head of the family, with premises at nos 9, 10 and Il East Street (Wigan End) with a yard at the rear containing two cottages and workshops. Across the street opposite were further premises nos 88 and 89 with another ‘forge’ workshop attached. Various trade directories for Suffolk refer to the businesses of Blacksmithing, Shoeing, Gig making and as wheelwrights. Directories also refer to the additional trade of beer retailing.

Charles’s uncle Robert Shelley had been the landlord of the ‘George’ Public House and Charles’s son William later became the proprietor of the ‘Prince of Wales’ Hotel [clearly with a knowledge of brewing which he capably did on his own premises]. In 1898, William opposed an application by Mr Mauldon to build a licenced PH at the ‘Wents estate’ abutting Clarence Road and Stanley Road in the parish of St. Gregory. A memorial was read at the hearing, stating the inhabitants of the parish oppose the application.

There were ten children of Charles and his wife Mary Ann of which seven sons survived to adulthood. It would seem that Charles may have been a little too enthusiastic to build up the beer retailing by erecting a Public House in 1863 called ‘The Red White and Blue’ [subsequently renamed the Hare and Hounds] and he put it up for auction. This may be significant because he was declared bankrupt in 1869 at the age of 43. By the time of his death in 1884 he must have managed to pay off any debts and to pass the properties and blacksmithing business on to his eldest son Charles George.

It would appear that following the bankruptcy, with the exception of son James who went to Ipswich as a blacksmith, William who went into the hotel trade and Aylmer who was a successful blacksmith independently employing two men, the younger brothers would need to seek their fortunes away from home. Henry Shelley, my great grandfather, went off to London as did all but one of the others eventually to follow in the same direction later on. Henry married his Assington fiancé in London in 1876 and they had three children, all boys, namely Walter James, my grandfather, Leonard and Bertie.

Around 1890 Henry returned to Sudbury with Mary Ann to live at I Girton Terrace in Princes Street. Their sons subsequently were comfortably employed in London and Leonard became a draper representing Sudbury silks, travelling far and wide installing draperies in many leading hotels and large houses.

On Henry’s return to Sudbury he appears to have immediately become employed by the Adams family at the wine merchant’s shop in the ‘Old Market Place’. Henry Sparrow Pratt and later his son Henry Cronin Pratt, (the ‘sensation of Sudbury who absconded with large sums of money in 1893) had an interest in the business. Henry Shelley was called upon to keep shop, look after the wine cellar and to porter the wines to customers with a pony and trap.

I believe that without any exceptions all of Henry Shelley’s brothers [having been born in the town] came back to Sudbury to give the oath and to take up their freedom. The problem existed for their sons who, by virtue of not having been born in Sudbury, were unable [through custom] to take up their freedom. A restoration of these lost lines has subsequently been made, both by the male and latterly by the female descendants of Charles Thomas Shelley.

Wigan End (East Street)

Wiggen, Wiggins or Wigan End from which the various versions are derived was a location at Sudbury, directly east of St Peter’s church. It was associated and peripheral to the ‘Old Market Place’. This opened out as a short street onto a highway to Great Waldingfield and to Acton. At the entrance of which, in mediaeval times there would have been an ‘East Gate’ to the Town.

Where did the name Wigan End originate? The most probable, as with many places in early times, it described the property ownership. Both the William Downes Map of 1811 and the Tithe Map of 1840 indicate “Wiggins End” and associated agricultural land named “Wiggins Piece. In the same way closely adjacent is agricultural land named “Newman’s Piece” (now the location of Newman’s Street along with a large area of houses.

Wiggins End is almost certainly derived from Wigayn’s End and Piece. In 1353 the Town Chamberlain recorded that property holder Simon Wigayn was in arrears with his rent tax — “In defectu redditus pasture quondam que in dominio domine ad festum Navitatis Sancti Johannis Baptiste”. These account details are to be found on page 22 of Hodson’s History of the Borough of Sudbury. Copies of early maps of Sudbury and Wigan End are in the possession of Alan Shelley.

The 19th century heralded several modernising changes to the Borough both in its town plan and in its corporate culture. Old buildings were cleared from around St Peter’s and a new ‘Town Hall’ was erected in 1828. This caused the old ‘Moot Hall’ to become defunct and to fall into disrepair. The removal of the old hall in 1844 cleared the way to create an enlarged market area outside the newly constructed

(1841) ‘Corn Exchange’. These changes closed an era of corrupt practices that were now reformed under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 making way for the new freely elected Council operating at the Town Hall on the ‘Old Market Place

Sometime between 1871 and 1881 Wigan End was revised, extended and renamed entirely as East Street. House numbers and names were changed accordingly.

NB. Rents were collected at St John the Baptist festival day (Nativity of St John The Baptist a Christian feast day 24 June ‘quarter day or annual payment day’

Shelley Ancestry at Sudbury

Year Name Place Source
1524 William Shelle Stoke by Nayland Subsidy List
1564 John Shelley marriage to Agn Grub at Clare BT Boyd’s List
1569 John Shelley marriage to Agn Gruce ? at Clare (a delayed marriage?) Boyd’s List
  John Shelye Yeoman at Pentlow Pentlow Parish Records
1573 William Shelye (siblings Thomas, Clement, Sarah & Susan) Pentlow Parish Records
1596 William Shelley married Ann Bartlet at Bulmer in July Bulmer Parish Records
    buried 21-8-1619 at Bulmer Bulmer Parish Records
1606 Richard Shelley married Margaret Linet at Bulmer 26 April 1631 Bulmer Parish Records
  (Able-man All Saints 1638 Reg) buried 5-01 1642 All Saints Sudbury
1640 Thomas Shelley 24-01 (4th sibling Philip, John, Mary, Richard) buried 1684 All Saints Sudbury
1663 married Elizabeth (buried 1684 All Saints) Freeman Sudbury Records
1668 Philip Shelley Weaver recorded on 1703 son of Thomas son of Richard Freemen’s List
1689 married Mary Willismore (Belchamp Walter 18-06) Parish Records
1704 Philip Shelley bapt 16-11buried1740 Parish Records
1727 married Elizabeth Fuller 5-03 St Gregory’s Copies of Deeds
1729 Philip Shelley bapt 1-01 St Peter bur 10-01-1800 Blacksmith Ship money 1782
c1750 | married Sarah – – (bur 1788 St Peter) Poll Book 1790
1757 Samuel Shelley (twin James bt 25-11) Blacksmith (wheelwright & gig maker) Pigots 1823
1784 married Sarah Parsonson 14-07 bur 20-08-1831 St Peter Copy of Will 1832
1795 James Shelley Born 23-10 died 13-05-1855 Blacksmith Copy of Will 1855
1816 married Susan Bantic 2-09 St Peter bur 13-05-1855 St Peter
1824 Charles Thomas born 11-04 died 4-07-1884 bur at Sudbury cemetery G.76 Folio 194 (3657)
1848 married Mary Ann Strutt 29-02-1848 dau of George Strutt, Baker St Peter
1850 Henry Shelley born 7-11 died 13 08 1921 bur at Sudbury cemetery grave DD 127C (8260)
1876 married Mary Ann Jacobs 26-11-1876 dau of James Jacobs of Assington  
Henry Shelley
Mary Ann Shelley

Shelley’s of Harrow

George Henry Shelley


Marine Insurance Broker Underwriter with Alfred Blackmore & Co. At Lloyds of London

Dorothy Alice ‘Ing’ Shelley


Leading Technician and Draughtsman. With British Thompson-Houston BTH At Willesden Works, North West London

Shelley family at ‘Marstrand’ Kenmore Avenue, Kenton Harrow. David, Hazel, George, Dorothy and Alan (1965)
Mother (President of Harrow Townswomen’s Guild)
Mum and Dad

Shelley Family Tree

Collecting Sudbury Common Money from Peter Smith


Collecting Common Money from Barry Hibble

See also Shelley Family Origins

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