SHEFFIELD, Sir Robert (by 1462-1518), of the Inner Temple, London, West Butterwick, Lincs. and Chilwell, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1462, 1st s. of Robert Sheffield of South Cave, Yorks. and West Butterwick by Jane, da. of Alexander Lounde of West Butterwick. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) by 1485, Ellen (d.1509 or later), da. of Sir John Delves of Dodddington, Cheshire, 1s. 4da.; (2) by 1518, Anne. Kntd. 17 June 1497; suc. fa. 18 Aug. 1502.1

Offices Held

Gov. I. Temple 1511-?d.

Commr. sewers Lincs. 1485-d., oyer and terminer, London 1495, 1503, benevolence 1500, subsidy Lincs. 1504, 1512, 1514, 1515, London 1504; other commissions Lincs., Yorks. and London 1495-d.; steward, bp. of Durham’s liberty of Howden, Yorks. Mar. 1493, manor of Stoke Bardolph and others in Notts. Feb. 1508-d., manor of Kirton, Lincs. and crown lands in Kingston-upon-Hull and elsewhere in Yorks. 20 July 1509-d.; recorder, London by 21 Sept. 1495-Apr. 1508; j.p. Lincs. 1495-7, 1510-16 or later, Notts. 1511-16 or later; jt. keeper, Lincoln castle 10 Feb. 1501-d.; ‘councillor’ in 1508; custos rot. Lincs. (Lindsey) by 1516.2

Speaker of House of Commons 1512.


Robert Sheffield followed, with added success, the path trodden by his father and grandfather, as lawyer, local administrator, landed proprietor and Member of Parliament. It was as recorder of London that he sat in Henry VII’s last three Parliaments. Even after he ceased to be recorder, and thus one of the London Members, the City continued to look to Sheffield to promote its interests: when in the Parliament of 1510 the City opposed the grant of tonnage and poundage to the new King, Sheffield was one of those asked by the Merchant Adventurers to support their request for the maintenance of the old book of rates—this approach suggests that he was a Member of that Parliament, although he did not sit in it for London—and after he had been made Speaker in 1512 the City raised from 40s. to five marks the annuity it had paid him since he gave up the recordership.3

As Speaker-designate of this Parliament Sheffield was doubtless returned for a shire to accord with that distinction: that he sat for Lincolnshire, rather than one of the other counties, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, with which he was connected is suggested by his appointment as a subsidy commissioner there, and if so he was presumably re-elected for the shire in 1515 when the King asked for the return of the previous Members. He had been presented as Speaker within two days of the opening of the Parliament of 1512, but of his role in that Parliament all that is known is that on 9 Feb. 1514 London decided to give him £5 ‘for the expedition of certain causes of the City in Parliament’, one of which may have issued in the Act (5 Hen. VIII, c.5) for juries in London. In January 1513 the treasurer of the Chamber paid him £200 for the first two sessions but it was not until April 1515 that he received his fee for the third and final session. This delay has given rise to the belief that he was chosen Speaker again in 1515, but it was Sir Thomas Neville whom in February 1515 he presented to the King as his successor.4

In 1515 Sheffield helped Wolsey to redraft the measure which became the Resumption Act (6 Hen. VIII, c.25), but such co-operation soon gave place to hostility. When the bill renewing the Act denying benefit of clergy to men not in holy orders (4 Hen. VIII, c.2) was defeated in the Lords Sheffield led a delegation from the Commons urging the King’s spiritual advisers to discuss the subject with Church representatives. His comments to the King two years later suggest that he supported a further bill to the same effect passed by the Commons but rejected by the Lords after a single reading. In giving a lead to the anti-clerical forces in the House he incurred the cardinal’s displeasure and he soon paid the price. Within a year or so of the dissolution he was charged before the Star Chamber with negligence as a justice of the peace for Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire; bound over in 29 recognizances, in November 1516 he sued out a pardon. Eight months later he was committed to the Tower for complaining to the King about Wolsey. Brought before Star Chamber again, he confessed to having obtained the pardon without permission and given asylum to criminals, and asserted that if the temporal lords had been of one mind in the last Parliament ‘my lord cardinal’s head should have been as red as his coat’. On 13 Feb. 1518 he cut up the pardon while kneeling before Wolsey and besought the King’s mercy, but he seems to have been kept in the Tower until his death six months later on 10 Aug.5

By a will made two days before he died, and proved on the following 28 Feb., Sheffield asked to be buried beside his first wife in the church of the Austin Friars in London and provided for his wife Anne and his unmarried daughters. He left Wolsey a silver gilt statue in the hope that the cardinal would be gracious to his widow and children, and named his son Robert and brother Sir Thomas Sheffield (a knight of the order of St. John at Rhodes) executors and Sir Thomas Lovell I supervisor: among the witnesses was Henry Barley. On 1 Sept. 1518 Sir Thomas Burgh replaced Sheffield as steward of the manor of Kirton and two months later the Council ordered the cancellation of his bonds for good behaviour. His son Robert married the King’s second cousin Jane Stanley and their son Edmund was created Baron Sheffield at the accession of Edward VI.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 566. DNB; LP Hen. VIII, i; Gt. Chron. of London, ed. Thomas and Thornley, 277; Stow’s Survey of London, ed. Kingsford, 179; PCC 15 Ayloffe; C142/54/85.
  • 2. CPR, 1485-94 and 1494-1509 passim; LP Hen. VIII, i-iii; Statutes, iii. 89, 119, 172; Rot. Parl. vi. 534, 542; Somerville, Duchy, i. 583; B. Andrew, Historia Regis Henrici Septimi (1858 ed.), 115.
  • 3. Bull IHR, xxxv. 128-49; J. S. Roskell, The Commons and their Speakers in Eng. Parlts. 1376-1523, p. 96; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 2, f. 130.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i; LJ, i. 10-11, 20; Bull IHR, xxxv. 136-7; Gt. Chron. of London, 379; Cit6 of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 2. f. 171v; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 2;y Roskell, 316.
  • 5. Roskell, 320; A. F. Pollard, Wolsey, 45, 52n; LP Hen. VIII, ii; E. Lodge, Illus. i. 32; Elton, Reform and Reformation, 64; C142/33/57; J. A. Guy, The Cardinal’s Ct. 76-78.
  • 6. PCC 15 Ayloffe summarised in Test Vet. ed. Nicolas, ii. 556-7; Roskell, 321; LP Hen. VIII, ii.