George has found two fun Sheldon tree maps with the Allen County Public Library and we would like to share them here for spotlight and commentary. Each tree map references a separate large Sheldon family in England, these two families appear to be the two primary branches of Sheldon’s. The two families, although originating in Derbyshire and Birmingham, also had some geographic overlap in Staffordshire which, historically, has led many to assume that they were the same family. While further in depth research, coupled in part with our DNA study, has shown that they have completely separate origins.
The first can be found (here)
This is the Birmingham/Warwickshire Sheldon’s which take their name from the place called Sheldon which has since been engulfed by the City of Birmingham, England. This family includes the Sheldon’s of Beoley that created the famous Sheldon tapestries and the “Sheldon Folio”, one of the first folios of the complete works of William Shakespeare. It is also this family that had the well recognized coat of arms with three ducks (sheldrakes). A branch of this family eventually made their way into the French aristocracy and eventually died out. It is also believed (we are still working to prove this) that Isaac Sheldon of Windsor, Connecticut was from this family, the progenitor of the Isaac Sheldon of Northampton, Massachusetts and John Sheldon of Kingston, Rhode Island families in America. Several previous blogs have been written discussing the likelihood of this possibility.
The second is a bit problematic and can be found (here)
This map is noted at ACPL as being from c1915, however this is certainly an error and must date to after 1926 when J. Gardner Bartlett wrote his book in which he believed (but did not emphatically confirm), that Isaac Sheldon of Northampton was the son of a Ralph Sheldon of Derby, England. He made this conclusion after finding a baptismal record for an Isaac Sheldon, son of Ralph, in Derby that matched the approximate year of birth of Isaac Sheldon of Northampton – and his inability to find any other record of birth of another Isaac anywhere in England. However, most records of birth for this era are missing in England, so the lack of alternatives is not a great reason to make this assumption. Also, this requires the researcher to ignore the earlier Isaac Sheldon of Windsor, CT (father of Isaac of Northampton), and to attempt justifications to erroneously conclude that Isaac of Windsor and Isaac of Northampton were the same person. This was debated for many decades until recent years when our DNA study concluded that the descendants of Isaac Sheldon was not a match to the descendants of the Derby Sheldon’s.
Which is why we believe that the bottom half of this tree map from Isaac Sheldon of Northampton down, is actually a branch of the Warwickshire Sheldon’s (mentioned above in the first map). What is sadly missing here are the lines for Godfrey Sheldon of Maine, Richard Sheldon of New Jersey (who may not have existed, he may have in fact been a grandson of Godfrey), and John Sheldon of Providence (a separate progenitor line), Rhode Island who ARE branches of this Derby family as confirmed by DNA. Several Will’s, and the baptismal records of Godfrey’s children, confirm that they are from the town of Bakewell, Derby, and Godfrey’s wife’s family, the Frosts, were from the village of Sheldon near Bakewell where this branch gets its name. This Derby family also produced the famous Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury and the builder of the Sheldonia Theater at Oxford University. It was also this family that participated in the famous Sheldon witch trials where both Susannah Sheldon and Ephraim Sheldon testified against multiple accused witches, included Rebecca Nurse who was later executed.