Gilbert Sheldon

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Gilbert Sheldon (1598–1677) was an English Archbishop of Canterbury.


Early life

He was born in Stanton, Staffordshire in the parish of Ellastone, on 19 July 1598, the youngest son of Roger Sheldon; his father worked for Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford; he matriculated at Oxford on 1 July 1614, graduated B.A. from Trinity College on 27 November 1617, and M.A. on 28 June 1620. In 1619 he was incorporated at Cambridge.[1] In 1622 he was elected fellow of All Souls' College, where he took the degrees of B.D. on 11 November 1628 and D.D. on 25 June 1634. In 1622 he was ordained, and shortly afterwards he became domestic chaplain to Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry.[2]

In March 1626 be was elected warden of All Souls' on the death of Richard Astley. He had already made the acquaintance of William Laud, and corresponded with him on college business, university politics, and on the conversion of William Chillingworth from Roman Catholicism. Sheldon was not initially a Laudian, and he resisted (unsuccessfully) Laud's appointment of Jeremy Taylor to a fellowship at All Souls'. In 1634 and 1640 he was pro-vice-chancellor. In 1638 he was on the commission of visitation for Merton College; the visit produced a report requiring reforms.[2]

During the years 1632-1639 he received the livings of Hackney (1633); Oddington, Oxfordshire; Ickford, Buckinghamshire (1636); and Newington, Oxfordshire; besides being a prebendary of Gloucester from 1632. Sheldon gravitated towards the Great Tew circle of Lucius Cary (Falkland), and was on friendly terms with Edward Hyde; he had no Puritan sympathies. He became a royal chaplain through Coventry, and the king intended preferment for him, plans interrupted by the political crises.[2]

Civil War period

He was intimate with the Royalist leaders, and participated in the negotiations for the Uxbridge treaty of 1645. During this period he became with Henry Hammond one of the churchmen closest to the king, and attended him in Oxford, later in Newmarket, Suffolk and finally in the Isle of Wight. When the parliamentarians occupied Oxford in 1646 he resisted the visitation, but was finally and physically ejected from All Souls in early 1648. Taken into custody, he was to have been imprisoned in Wallingford Castle with Hammond but the commander was unwilling to have them. He was freed, with restrictions on his movements, later that year.[2]

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