John Shaw of Kingswinford, 1606-1674

This article is designed to disambiguate some of the ‘John Shaws’ alive in Dudley and the surrounding areas in the early Seventeenth Century. It focuses on the John Shaw, who Richard Shaw describes as his ‘natural son’ in his 1657 will and is also described as his ‘natural brother’ in the 1646 will of Richard Shaw, the younger. His position amongst Richard Shaw’s children is a little enigmatic.

It is presumed that he was baptised on 8 Mar 1606/07 in St Thomas Dudley. His older brothers were Edward (bap Dec 1602) and Richard (bap 5 Oct 1604). His father had married Margery Hamnett on 16 Oct 1601, but this first wife died and was buried on 22 Oct 1609. Richard Shaw, the father, then married his second wife Margery Cartwright on 17 May 1610 in St Edmund’s Dudley and had a further four children, including Oliver Shaw.

The fact that John is singled out as a’natural’ son, would suggest that Margery Hamnett was not his mother. It is possible that Margery Cartwright could have been the mother, three years before her eventual marriage to Richard Shaw. A daughter Ann Shaw, later the wife of Arthur Dixon (marr 26 Oct 1628, St Edmunds Dudley) was baptized on 4 Jun 1609 and it is presumed she is the daughter by Margery Hamnett, who died a few months later.

The contention on John’s parentage rests largely on the evidence of the will of another John Shaw, Richard Shaw’s uncle, who died in 1628. This John Shaw died childless and singles out his great nephew John Shaw with property that he had previously bought from a John Cartwright. It could be that this bequest was reuniting John Cartwright’s land with his grandson John Shaw. The dates do not really work for this to be John Cartwright of Rowley Regis who died in 1587, who has a named daughter Margery, although this has to remain a remote possibility for the lineage of Richard Shaw’s second wife.

John Shaw is described as ‘Sithsmith’ of Kingswinford in the will of his brother in 1646. The Shaw family had held land in Kingswinford in the 16th century – see will of Thomas Shaw 1544 –  and John clearly spent most his life there and away from Dudley. Whilst the metal trades in Dudley labelled many as ‘nailer’ in Kingswinford the Parish Registers indicate a preponderance of Scythe makers. The labels clearly hide a wide range of status from one-man smithies to fairly large industrial scale workshops and trading outfits. (eg see the family of Henry Finch or that of Richard Foley, both of Dudley)

Knowing he lived in Kingswinford, leads us to a further piece of evidence in the form of the admon papers of a Margaret Shaw of 1674. Although she is described as of ‘Dudley Foreign’, Diocese of Worcester, these are held at Lichfield. Margery is described as the wife of John Shaw Sythesmith of  Dudley Foreign and it is clear her husband is alive. Her son-in-law would appear to be Richard Pargiter, nailer of West Bromwich. We can postulate therefore that John Shaw marries Margaret Baker in St Mary’s Kingswinford on 16 Oct 1634. He is described as John Shaw the older in the admon papers. This allow us to identify his children as John (bap 1636, St Mary’s) and Ann (bap 1639, St Mary’s) and the marriage of his daughter Ann Shaw to Richard Pargiter takes place on 24 Sep 1667 in All Saints, West Bromwich.

John Shaw is named as an Overseer of his brother Edward’s will in 1669 and must therefore have died some time after 1674.

A further disambiguation is needed of one other John Shaw in this family.  This revolves around a  John Shaw the brother of Richard Shaw of Pinfolds, the younger son of Thomas Shaw (d 1583). This John Shaw is the one mentioned in the will of Robert Smyth of Wombourne in 1592. It is believed this John Shaw dies and is buried in St Thomas, Dudley on 13 Jun 1644. He is the father of four more Shaw sons including another John (bap 25 Jun 1609). It is presumed that the marriage on 29 Aug 1631 in St Thomas’s between John Shaw and Elizabeth Finch is this John Shaw. This is supported by the wills of this John’s brothers Thomas Shaw (PCC 27 Sep 1653) and Humphrey Shaw (PCC 24 Apr 1652)


  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 17 Nov 1657, PCC (Father)
  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 16 Feb 1646, PCC (Brother)
  • Will of Edward Shaw, Probate 31 May 1669, PCC (Brother)
  • Will of John Shaw, Probate 16 Aug 1628, Worcester Record Office (Great Uncle)
  • Admon of Margery Shaw, 30 oct 1674, Lichfield Record Office (Wife)


Last updated on 10 May 2019 by JJ Morgan