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The Shirley coat of arms is a quarter badge with five ermines and vertical stripes of gold and blue. The ermines, depicted by a white field and black spots, representing dignity and nobility. This Coat of Arms dates from 1334.

The legend of the Saracen Head: Fulcher and Matilda had a son, Sewallis, named after his grandfather. Sewallis joined the Crusades in the 11th Century to recover the Holy Lands from the Saracens, members of a pre-Islamic nomadic people of the Syrian-Arabian deserts. The Saracen’s head on the crest symbolizes distinctions won in the Crusades.

Our Shirley ancestors have roots deep in England and Scotland and Ireland. Like the Bransfords, though not of royal blood, they were closely associated with and served many of England’s most noble lords and kings.

Unfortunately, we cannot document, conclusively, the line of descent leading to the one Shirley that we are certain is our ancestor - John Shirley of Fauquier County, Virginia (born in Virginia in 1738). Some researchers maintain that our line derives from Daniel Shirley who came to America in 1619. In any case, there is no doubt that the Shirley family in America were illustrious pioneers and dedicated patriots! At least six Shirley men fought in the Revolutionary War!

They (or their brothers, uncles, or nephews) served in the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Spanish American War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II


What is known is that our ancestors were, in the main, tobacco growers - in that day called "planters" and that they were quite affluent with large holdings of land. But, that tragic event - "The War Between the States" - occurred and decimated our family! By that time, our ancestors had moved from Virginia to South Carolina to Alabama and were, of course, dedicated to "The South".

Our ancestor, Joshua, and at least one of his sons (our ancestor, Harrison) were significant property and slave owners in Alabama and Mississippi. The Civil War took all of that away from them: land holdings, slaves, commercial accounts, and all the associated material goods. In addition, Joshua lost both of his sons and two sons-in-law from his second marriage in battle!

To remind all of us just how divisive this war was, the Government listing of Civil War Soldiers list 327 Shirleys as serving in this war. Of these, 183 served the Confederate side and 144 served on the Union Side!

The Shirley family had its origin with the Norman invasion by William, Duke of Normandy. Sir Sewallis, Baron Henry de Ferrer, was a follower of William from Normandy (William the Conqueror) and was the first recorded Shirley ancestor.

According to “Encyclopedia of Heraldry” by John Burke: “Shirleys of Derby, Stanton, Harold, County Leuhester, and Chartley, County Stafford, derives from Sewallis de Ettington who lived in the time Edward the Confessor”. Dugdale says the name was of old English stock as Lord of Ettington under the name ‘Henry de Ferrers’, the first recorded ancestor of the oldest knightly family of Warwick.

The family name of Shirley appears to have been taken up in 1138 at the direction of King Stephen and derived from the “Manor of Shirley” in Derbyshire.

Sir Sewallis (born ca. 1043, died 1085) held lands in Ettington, Warwickshire. He was created a Baron by, then Duke, William, in Normandy and followed William in the conquest of England in 1066. He was succeeded by his only child, Fulcher.

Fulcher was born about 1067 and died 1105, leaving five sons. Of these, Sewallis, became heir. Sewallis was born about 1086 and died in 1129, leaving five sons: Henry, his heir; Fulcher, died without issue; Hugh, a priest; Ralph; and Edward.

Henry was born about 1106 and died about 1155. He married Joanna, daughter and heir of John de Clinton of Essex. They had one son, Sewallis.

Sewallis was born about 1127 and died in 1200. He had a daughter and one son, James.

Sir James de Shirley, born about 1186 and died 1278, was a Knight granted privileges at Shirley Manor in 1247 and at Ettington in 1255. He married Agnes, daughter of Simon de Walton. One son, Ralph, survived.

Sir Ralph was born about 1250 and died 1327. In 1281 he held the Manor at Ettington, trustee for Edmond, Earl of Lancaster, the King’s brother. In 1302 he had custody of the counties of Salop and Stafford with the castle of Shrewsbury in his charge. He was sheriff of Derby and Nottingham and in 1310 was a justice in Warwick. He was elected to Parliament in 1312. His father-in-law was Cup Bearer to Edward II. He was succeeded by one son, Thomas.

Sir Thomas Shirley, born about 1305, died in 1362. He was a Knight and member of Parliament for Warwick County in 1341. This Sir Thomas was said to be “the great founder of the family of Shirley”. He married Isabella, granddaughter of Ralph, Lord Bassett of Drayton, and was eventually heir to her brother, the last Lord Bassett. They had a son, Hugh.

Sir Hugh Shirley of Ettington, Warwick, was born before 1362. He was a Knight and inherited the estates of his uncle, Lord Bassett. He was made Grand Falconer to Henry IV and was slain at Shrewsbury in 1403 where he was engaged in support of the King. It is said that Sir Hugh was clothed similarly to the King and was thus killed by mistake by those who thought they were killing King Henry IV. Sir Hugh had married Beatrix, daughter and heir of Peter de Brones of Weston. When he died, he has a 12 year old son, Ralph.

Sir Ralph Shirley was born in 1391 and died in 1466. He was one of the chief commanders of Henry V in the Battle of Agincourt and took a distinguished part in the subsequent French Wars of that monarch. He married Joan, daughter and heir of Thomas Bassett of Bailsford, County Derby. He was succeeded by his only son, Ralph.

Sir Ralph Shirley was born about 1420 and died about 1470. He was constable of Melbourne Castle and the Castle of Peak in Derbyshire. He married two or three times. The first marriage was to Margret, daughter and sole heir of John de Stauinton of Stauston, Harold, County Leutester. They had one son, John. The second marriage was to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Blout and sister of Lord Mountjoy. By this marriage he had a son, Ralph. The third marriage, if there was one, was childless.

The son of Sir Ralph and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Blout, Sir Ralph Shirley was born about 1450 and died in 1510. He was Esquire to the body of Henry VII. He married Jane, daughter of John Wellshire. They had two sons, Sir Richard Shirley and Thomas Shirley, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Beautrix, and Isabella. This Thomas Shirley is believed to be the origin of the “Younger Line”, an extensive branch of Shirleys but not believed to be in our direct line. The “Younger Line” were not believed to have been active in Virginia, although some of the descendants were in the Bahamas and the Leeward Islands until the line became extinct in 1816.

Sir Richard Shirley was believed born about 1475 and died November 15, 1540. He was Esquire to Weston, Sheriff of Sussex and Surrey. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Guldeford and they had six sons and six daughters: William, Thomas, John, Edward, Ralph, Richard, Elizabeth, Alice, Anne, Jane, Frances, and Cicealy.

William Shirley, Esquire, was born 1500 and died May 29, 1551. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas Isley of Sundridge. He had two sons, Thomas and Anthony, and one daughter Elizabeth.

Sir Thomas Shirley of Weston (sometimes referred to as Sir Thomas, The Elder) was born, according to one source, May 9, 1549, but by another source as 1542. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1573. He died in 1612. His wife was Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Kemp of Kent. They had five sons and seven daughters. Three of these sons, Thomas, Anthony, and Robert were the famous traveling brothers—”The Three Traveling Knights of Sussex”.

Sir Thomas Shirley, the heir, was born in 1564 and was knighted in 1589. He first married Francis, daughter of Sir Thomas Vasasouer of Kent. They had seven children: Henry, Chegney, Thomas, Dorothy, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Francis. His second wife was Judith, daughter of Sir William Bennett of London. Their nine children were John, Hugh, Thomas, Robert, Richard, Judith, Anne, Elizabeth, and Bridget. He was succeeded by Sir Thomas, who was born in 1597 and was beheaded by his political enemies on January 30, 1649 because of his support for Charles I. That Thomas had married Anne, daughter of Sir George Blundell of Cardingaton, and they had a son, Sir Thomas Shirley, baptised October 15, 1638. That Thomas became physician to Charles II. The physician had two children, twins, Mary and Aackville but there is no further record of them.

The second son of Sir Thomas, The Elder, was Sir Anthony Shirley, born about 1585. He was knighted in 1590 and traveled extensively, including a voyage to the West Indies and America in 1596-97. He died in Spain in 1630 with no record of surviving descendants.

The third son and member of this widely known traveling trio was Sir Robert Shirley, born 1570. He married Teresa, daughter of Ismael Kahn who bore him a child for whom the Mohammedan King stood as Godfather. A son was born in England, November 4, 1611, for whom the Prince of Wales and the Queen were sponsors. Sir Robert died in Persia on July 13, 1628.

One of the five sons of Sir Thomas The Elder (and brother to the famous three travelers) is said to have been Daniel Shirley, born in 1594. Daniel emigrated to Virginia in 1619, one year after the death of Governor Thomas West, Lord Delaware, who married Cecilia (or Cecily) Shirley, Daniel’s sister.

The sisters were: Margaret, born and died in 1570; Mary, who married Sir John Croftes of Saxham; Elizabeth, who married Sir Edward Onslow, died in 1630; Isabell, married Sir Prall Boras of Harts; Jane, married Sir John Shirley of Insfield; Anna, baptised January 1, 1573, married John, 1st vice Traceyin, 1590; and Cecily, mentioned above.

Daniel Shirley came to American in the vessel “Bona Nova” in 1619 and was listed in the “Roster of Inhabitants of Virginia” in 1624 as residing at Collegeland, Henrico County. Daniel Shirley is next found in “Order of Court” dated December 5, 1632, granting a patent to Daniel Shurley, a planter, of the “Neck of Land” within the precincts of Charles City County for 50 acres of land adjoining land of William Dawkes.

There are five Shirley Villages in England but the one in Derbyshire is believed to be the home of the Shirleys who came to America!

A lot of research on the Shirley Family was done by Reuben Thompson Shirley who believes he has firm links from the Shirleys of England to the state of Virginia.


1042/1085 Sewallis (of Norman Conquest)
1067/1105 Fulcher
1086/1129 Sewallis of Shirley
1106/1155 Henry (He took the Shirley name in 1138)
1126/1200 Sewallis (took the title of Earl in 1167)
1186/1278 Sir James de Shirley
1250/1327 Sir Ralph Shirley
1305/1362 Sir Thomas Shirley
1361/1403 Sir Hugh Shirley
1391/1466 Sir Ralph Shirley
1420/1470 Sir Ralph Shirley
1450/1510 Sir Ralph Shirley
1475/1540 Sir Richard Shirley
1500/1551 William Shirley, Esq. of Weston (Wiston?)
1542/1612 Sir Thomas Shirley The Elder of Weston
1594/1650 Daniel Shirley*
1636/1696 Thomas Shirley*
1668/1738 John Shirley
1694/1764 John Shirley
1725/1782 John Shirley

The subsequent Shirleys listed by Reuben diverge from our line at the John Shirley born 1725 (the father of Thomas Shirley, born 1761).

Two other researchers say that Thomas Shirley, who died in 1696 was actually born in 1612 - not 1636 as shown above. They go on to say the descendants of that Thomas Shirley were John Shirley (b 1671) who had a son, Daniel (b 1717 - d 1768) and that Daniel’s son, John (b 1738 - d 1808) was our direct ancestor.

Other researchers agree with this lineage based on records of their family (bible records, etc). However, it appears that we have no documented proof of the immediate ancestors of our John Shirley.

Our cousin, Claude Bouchillon, has thoroughly documented our descent from the John Shirley of Fauquier County, Virginia, who was born 1738 (or 1739), and who died in Anderson County, South Carolina in 1808.

John Shirley, Fauquier, Virginia - (B 1738 - D 1808)
Married Elizabeth Barmore
Their children:

John Shirley (B ca 1767) married Elizabeth Fields then Elizabeth Mitchell Grubbs
James Shirley (B ca 1769) married Elizabeth Smith
Rhody (or Rhoda) Shirley (B ca 1771) married William Grubbs (brother of Richard)
Nipper (or Niper) Shirley (B ca 1772) married Jane “Polly” Cheeves
William Shirley (B ca 1774) married Jemima Gant

William and Joshua were named executors of John Shirley’s will 6 Jun 1808

Joshua Shirley (B 1775) married Elizabeth R. Long (See separate history) and, later, Mary Johnson Ramsey
Sarah Shirley (B ca 1779) married John Wakefield, Jr.
Elizabeth (Betsey) Shirley (B 1781) married Hezekiah Wakefield
A daughter (B ca 1783) married Thomas Lollar
Leannah Shirley (B ca 1785) (according to Bouchillon, married Joseph Smith or Thomas Loller?)
Robert Shirley (B 1788) married Leitresta (Robinson ?? or ?? Silvester)
Polly Shirley (B 14 Aug 1789)married William Wakefield

Joshua Shirley/Elizabeth (Betsy) Long’s children
(all born in South Carolina):

Delilah Shirley (b ca 1798) married Washington Wells
Lucy Shirley (b ca 1800) married Richard Wood
Elizabeth Shirley (b ca 1802) married Willam Ward
Sarah Shirley married Robert Campbell
John Read Shirley (b ca 1804) married Harriett Wooldridge
Ailsey (or Alcey or Elcey) Shirley (b ca 1806) married Wade Hampton Funk
Lindsey L. Shirley (b ca 1808 d 1829) apparently did not marry
Amanda Shirley (b ca 1810) married ?? Wiggins or Wigginton and, later, John Milford Barmore
Harrison Shirley (1812/1897) married Cynthia Bennett
Melissa Ann America Shirley (b 1814) married Josiah Prewitt Bennett (brother of Cynthia Bennett Shirley)
Gabriel Long Shirley (b 1817) married Mary Laura Carter
Nimrod Washington Shirley (b ca 1818) did not marry (apparently disabled)

Joshua and his second wife (Mary Johnson Ramsey) had four children but they, of course are not in our direct line of ancestry.

Joshua was reported to have had 126 slaves (prior to the Civil War). The Civil War apparently took a terrible toll on the lives of the children of Joshua’s second marriage. It appears that both sons and both sons-in-law lost their lives during this period.

Joshua died intestate. The estate settlement shows that he owned land in Alabama in several Mississippi counties. He also owned many slaves — Claude has some records of the estate sale that lists 149 Negroes. Everything was sold and the proceeds divided among the heirs. His widow, Mary Johnson Ramsey, received only a child’s share and may have later remarried.

Descendants of Harrison and Cynthia Shirley:

Harrison Shirley (B 1812 in Abbeville County, South Carolina -
D 1 May 1897 in Pontotoc, Mississippi )
married Cynthia (Syntha?) Bennett

The following children of Harrison Shirley/Cynthia Bennett Shirley were all born in Mississippi:

Sarah Elizabeth Shirley (b 1835) married William Ferguson
Delilah America Shirley (1837-1873) - married John Leonard Bouchillon (as his 2d wife)
Newton Lindsey Shirley (b 1839 - buried in Thaxton, MS) married Hassie Langston and, later, Mary Jane Sledge
Mary Frances Shirley (b 1841) married William E. Dougless (or Douglas)
Susan Shirley (b 1843) married Dr. Spruill ?
Catherine (“Cathy”) Shirley (b 1845) - killed by lightning, age 7
Cinthia (Syntha) Shirley (b 1847) also married Dr. Spruill?
Dora Shirley (b 1848) married Alexander (Ell) Hollis
Melissa Ann Shirley married Charles R. Martin
John Shirley (B 6/22/1854 (headstone) - D 2/1/1924) married Georgia Ann McCarter (B 8/16/1862 - D 3/15/1905)
Hattie Adlis Shirley (10/12/1857 - 3/3/1936) married Franklin Pierce Knight

The Family of John Shirley and Georgia McCarter:

My mother’s father, John Shirley of rural address, Hillsboro, Texas was born in Pittsboro, Calhoun County, Mississippi on 22 June 1854 - other records indicate 1850 and even 1854 but headstone says 1854. He was a farmer and was 42 years old at the time of my mother’s birth. He died 1 February 1924. He married my grandmother on 9 May 1883 in Pontotoc County, MS on 9 May 1883.

My Mother’s mother, Georgia Ann McCarter of rural address, Hillsboro, Texas was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on 16 August 1862. She was a housewife and was was 33 years of age at the time of my mother’s birth. She died 15 March 1905 (Mom’s Bible says 1904 but death certificate says 1905) in Holt Community, San Saba County, Texas. She is buried in Holt Cemetery, near Richland Springs, Texas.

Their children:

Norma Grace (Aunt “Norma”) (B 5 Nov 1884 - D 15 Jan 1915) Married Scott Miller (B 27 May 1877 - D 9 Dec 1945) on 14 Jun 1903 at New Braunfels, TX. They had two sons and three daughters.

Carl Lindsey Shirley (Uncle “Bud”) (B 19 Sep 1886 - D 26 Feb 1937) Married Dollie (Aunt “Doll”) Foster (B Apr ?? 1894 or 1 Sep - D 7 Jan 1995) on 14 Apr 1912. They had three sons.

John E. Shirley (Uncle “Ell”) (B 16 February 1888 - D 17 April 1953) Married Artye Mae (Aunt “Artie”) Clark (B Sep 22 1894 - D Aug 3 1984) on Sept 12, 1912. They had one son and one daughter

Iris Lane Shirley (B 3 October 1889 in Texas - D 13 July 1890)

Leather Ann Shirley (Aunt “Lee”) (B 4 July 1891 - D 16 January 1923) married Manley Farrington (B Feb 6, 1883 - D Jul 28, 1966) on 16 Jan 1910. They had one son and three daughters.

William Shirley (Uncle “Will”) (B 21 Feb1893 in TX - D 21 Jan 1971 or -72) married Edna Kinnard (B 31 Oct 1896 - D 19 Nov 1927) on 10 May 1914. They had four sons and one daughter.

Mary Edith Shirley (my mother) (B 21 Mar1895 Hillsboro, TX - D 12 Apr1976) married John Henry Bransford (B Aug 31, 1886 - D Feb 29, 1956). They had two sons.

Nora Shirley (B 24 January 1897 in Texas - D 14 February 1897)

James Harrison Shirley (B 29 Dec 1899 in Texas - 10 Jan 1901)

George Raymond Shirley (Uncle “Ray”) (B 10 Apr 1901 or ‘02 (from gravestone) in Hill County, Texas - D 21 (from gravestone) Jan 1923). He was unmarried.

An early photo of Jerry's Grandfather Shirley and some of his family.

Standing, from left, John E. "Uncle Ell" Shirley, Scott Miller (husband of Norma), grandfather Shirley, Aunt Norma Grace Shirley Miller, C. L. "Uncle Bud" Shirley.
Seated, from left, William "Uncle Will" Shirley, next lady is not known but may be grandmother's sister, then Letha Ann "Aunt Lee" Shirley and grandmother, Georgia Ann McCarter Shirley.
Jerry's mother is the small girl seated next to her mother.


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