Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw of Netherton, near Dudley, a yeoman, died in 1657, leaving a will that helps build a picture of his numerous descendants. His father was probably Richard Shaw, yeoman of St Edmund’s Dudley, who left a will of 1616. A number of further wills and the parish registers of St Edmunds and St Thomas Dudley help us to build up a detailed picture.

Richard’s daughter Ann Shaw, mentioned in the will, was married to Arthur Dixon on 28 Oct 1628 in St Edmunds Dudley. Arthur Dixon would appear to be the son of Oliver Dixon (d 1632, will 1625).  Arthur Dixon’s brother was Captain Oliver Dixon who fought as a Roundhead in the Civil War. His son another Oliver Dixon in common with Richard’s grandson, Oliver Shaw were both to marry daughters of Gilbert Jellians and indeed were to become joint executors of Gilbert Jellians will in 1700. Both were trustees by inheritance of the the enfeoffment of Dudley Grammar School.

Richard’s second oldest son was Richard Shaw, who died childless in 1646. He also mentions his sister Ann Dixon in his will of that year. He also mentions his ‘natural brother’ John Shaw, a sithsmith of Kingswinford. This would indicate that Richard’s children had several mothers, and there were not always marriages. Richard Shaw, the younger also mentions his uncles Oliver Shaw and Thomas Shaw.

This trio of brothers Richard, Thomas and Oliver is significant as they almost certainly appear on sets of documents together – some held in the Dudley archives. Such documents would indicate that between them they appear to hold land in a number of diverse locations, notably Northfield, Wombourne and Netherton. Any analysis is complicated as the three christian names ripple though a number of generations.

The property in Northfield is generally associated with the brother Thomas Shaw. He may be older than Richard and married Mary Turner on 30 Oct 1598 and his son Thomas, in turn, married Isabel Baker in St John’s Halesowen on 20 Oct 1623 . The marriage settlement of 1623 confirms this and the interest in the Northfield leases. One document from way back in 1529 shows a lease of land in Northfield from Baron Dudley to an earlier Thomas Shaw. Richard’s nephew had two sons, Thomas and Oliver (bap 1625), both born in Northfield. This Oliver would appear to live in Northfield and is not to be confused with Richard’s own son Oliver.

The will of Edward Shaw of Northfield of 1606 confirms the primacy of the Shaw properties in Northfield. Edward would appear to be Richard’s uncle. He died childless and left Nortfield property to his nephew Thomas Shaw and his descendants. He also mention ‘his father’s house’ in Northfield. Under this hypothesis his father would be Richard Shaw the son of the Thomas Shaw who had died leaving a will in 1544.

Richard’s  brother Oliver is associated with property in Wombourne. He had married to Joan Woodhouse the daughter of Thomas Woodhouse, yeoman of Wombourne on 25 Jul 1602. The will of Richard Shaw, husbandman of Wombourne in 1654 would appear to be Oliver’s only son and would indicate that he died without further male issue.

These lands are all associated with the Lords of Dudley or possibly former Halesowen priory released at the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s. A document dated 1638 is an agreement between Nicholas Bache and his wife Elinor and seemingly the three Shaw brothers. Nicholas Bache was the occupier of the Wodehouse in Wombourne in the early 1600’s that may indicate an early interest of this Shaw family in the estate that eventually was inherited by Rev Thomas Shaw-Hellier. Two documents dated 1615 and 1616 appear to describe the origin of some Shaw property in Wombourne. Elinor Bache was the granddaughter of Walter Woodhouse (d 1610). We know that Oliver’s wife Joan Woodhouse (bap 27 May 1582, Wombourne) was the granddaughter of Benedict Woodhouse (d 1572), a descendant of a cadet branch of the family. These family roots and and other connections to the Wodehouse, Wombourne could  well have been known to Sir Samuel Hellier when he surprisingly bequeathed the whole estate to Thomas Shaw in 1784. Sir Samuel himself inherited the property because of the marriage of the grandson of Walter Woodhouse to Mary Huntbach.  The Rev Thomas Shaw-Hellier’s wife Mary Shaw was descended from Oliver Shaw, Richard’s son. James Shaw, Rev Thomas Shaw-Hellier’s father-in-law, was attorney to the Hellier family and was fully conversant with many ancient leases on the Dudley estates and the lineage back to the dissolution grants. Both Sarah Bendy, James Shaw’s wife and Samuel Hellier were descended from Henry Gough, draper from Wolverhampton (d 1655), making them fourth cousins.

All this would lead one to believe that the three brothers were born in the decade around 1580 and they were elevated beyond being ‘nailers’ to own a diverse portfolio of land and small holdings. Of Richard’s sons two of them are still designated as ‘nailers’ in their wills. There are two marriages that appear in the Dudley registers that seem likely marriages for Richard. Firstly in 1601 to Margery Hamnett, daughter of Richard Hamnett.  Secondly to Margery Cartwright on 12 Oct 1610 St Thomas Dudley.

We know from Richard Shaw’s will that he had other children. Richard, Ann and Margery as discussed above, would appear to be the oldest and by his first wife. There is John his ‘natural’ son, to whom he leaves twelve pence. But then there is Edward, apparently older than John, who dies leaving a possible will in 1669, and Thomas, with four children by two wives who does not appear to have left a will but died some time after 1657. Richard’s daughter Margery is married to Humphrey Colborne, as mentioned in the will. The two youngest children would appear to be Oliver and Marie, the latter married to William Thompson. Richard singles out his youngest son Oliver as sole executor of his will. His brother Oliver and  his ‘cozen’ Gilbert Jellians (snr) are named as overseers. All Richard’s grandchildren by his son Oliver (bap 17 Mar 1618 St Edmunds)  and their baptisms are recorded in St Thomas Dudley, including that of the eldest son Oliver Shaw baptised in 1647.

Richard Shaw lived in Netherton, Dudley through the turbulent times of the Civil War. The siring of at least one illegitimate child would suggest that he was not likely to be ‘puritanical’ and one can speculate that with his dealings with the Baron Dudley’s lands that he would have been strongly of a Royalist persuasion. Dudley was a Royalist garrison town until the Castle was besieged in 1646. The town suffered considerable damage including the demolition of St Edmund’s church.

Richard Shaw had a contemporary first cousin also called Richard Shaw, who has a lower profile in the records. He was descended from his grandfather’s brother Thomas Shaw, who died young in 1583.


  • Edward Chitham: The Story of Dudley (2014, The History Press)
  • The Heraldic visitation of Staffordshire made by Sir Richard St George Norray in 1614, (Ed) London 1885
  • Genealogical Table of William Bache of Wolverhampton (1670-1712) taken from papers at the Wodehouse, Womborne by J S Allen in 1964
  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 1657, PCC
  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 1616, Worcester Record Office (Father)
  • Will of Edward Shaw, Probate 1669, PCC, (Oldest Son)
  • Will of Richard Shaw, Probate 1646, PCC, (Second Son)
  • Will of Oliver Shaw, Probate 1694, Worcester Record Office (Youngest Son)
  • Will of Edward Shaw of Northfield, Probate 1606, Worcester Record Office (Uncle)
  • Will of John Shaw, Probate 1628, Worcester Record Office (Uncle)

Document abstracts as follows:

  • Dudley Archives: DX-104/1
    • Date: Feb 1638
      Quitclaim of closes, leasows, pastures and grounds by the name of the Brode Britches in Orton, alias Overton and Wombourne. Another close called Wythymore, also in Orton and Wombourne.

      1. Nicholas Bache of Wombourne, yeoman and Elionor his wife
      2. Thomas Shawe of Dudley, Worcestershire, yeoman
      Richard Shaw of Netherton, Dudley, Worcestershire, yeoman
      Thomas Davis of Edgment, Salop, yeoman
      Oliver Shawe of Womborne, yeoman
      Consideration 10
  • Birmingham: Archives, Heritage and Photography Service – Abstract from the National Archives
    • Date 1615; Ref….
      Grant from Thomas Woodhouse of Wombourne, co. Staff., yeoman, John Woodhouse of Coventry, baker, Olyver Shawe of Wombourne, yeoman, and Johanne, his wife, daughter of the said Thomas Woodhouse, to Rychard Shawe and Thomas Shawe both of Dudley, co.Worc., yeoman, of lands and premises in Wombourne and Orton, co. Staff., to hold for trusts recited.
      Collections for a  History of Staffordshire Vol IV. William Salt Archaeological Society, London 1901.
    • Abstract from concord dated 1616.
      On the Octaves of St. Michael. 13 James I. Between Richard Shaw and Thomas Shaw, complainants, and Thomas Woodhouse, Oliver Shawe and Joan, his wife, and John Woodhouse, deforciants of 2 messuages, 2 gardens, an orchard, 100 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow, 30 acres of pasture, and 6 acres of wood in Womborne and Orton otherwise Overton. The deforciants remitted all right to Richard and Thomas Shaw and to the heirs of Richard, for which Richard and Thomas Shaw gave them 140.
  •  Shropshire Archives – Abstract from National Archives
    • Marriage Settlement  – Date 1 Oct 1623
      1 Thomas Shaw sen. Of Dudley, Worcs., yeoman, Mary his wife and Thomas his son and heir.
      2 John Baker of Halesowen, Salop, yeoman and his daughter Isabell.
      3 Oliver Shaw, Wombourne, Staffs., yeoman and William Cartwright of Oldbury, Salop, yeoman.
      In consideration of a jointure to be made for Mary Shaw for her life, and of the marriage between Thomas Shaw jun. and Isabell Baker and of £100 to Thomas Shaw sen. from John Baker, Thomas Shaw sen. and jun. give 2 messuages with a garden and crofts, between High Street and Horsepoole, Dudley, a pasture called Lideate Field with a cottage (in Dudley). a parcel of land in Dudley, and 7 acres in the common fields of Dudley and a messuage, now in occupation of Thomas Shaw sen., and a messuage in Northfield, Worcs. with all leasows, closes etc, also in Northfields, in trust to use and behoof of Thomas Shaw sen. and Mary his wife, for their natural lives, thereafter to Thomas Shaw the younger and his heirs of his body, lacking such beings, to his right heirs forever. The dwelling in Northfields and moiety of gardens, etc. appertaining to Thomas Shaw sen. for life of Thomas Shaw jun., thereafter to the use of Isabell Baker, in the name of a jointure and in recompense for her dower.