SHIRLEY, Hon. Sewallis (1709-65).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



22 Mar. 1742 - 1754
1754 - 1761

Family and Education

b. 19 Oct. 1709, 14th s. of Robert, 1st Earl Ferrers, by his 2nd w. Selina, da. of George Finch of London.  m. 25 May 1751, Margaret, da. of Samuel Rolle of Heanton, Devon, wid. of Robert Walpole, 2nd Earl of Orford, s.p.

Offices Held

Comptroller of the household to Queen Charlotte 1762- d.


Shirley was returned for Callington on the interest of his wife, Lady Orford, and was classed in Dupplin’s list as a Tory. Two months after the election Shirley and his wife separated. Lady Orford told Dodington on 19 June that Shirley had ‘insisted upon something independent, and that she would part with nothing out of her own power’.1 And Horace Walpole, brother of her first husband, wrote to Mann, 5 July 1754:

My sister-in-law has just notified to the town her intention of parting from her second husband—a step which, being in general not likely to occasion much surprise, she had however taken care to render extraordinary, by a course of inseparable fondness and wonderful jealousy for the three years since these her second nuptials ... [She] by a most unsentimental precaution, had so secured to her own disposal her whole estates and jointure, that he cannot command so much as a distaff.

And Lady Orford told Mann on her return to Florence that ‘she did not allow [Shirley] a farthing, nor has even answered many of his dunning letters which, however, are not in the threatening style which he made use of in England’. In June 1756 she signed a deed for Shirley’s ‘separate maintenance, £750 a year upon his renouncing all right and title to her effects and authority over her person’.2 But that deed, she wrote to her agent, John Sharpe, Shirley’s fellow Member,3 she so dated

that the first payment might not become due till Lady Day next, it being the 22nd of June 1756. Mr. Shirley’s behaviour to me certainly has not been such to deserve I should have the kindness for him I long continued to feel, but his continuing his usual extraordinary style even in a letter I received some months since did appear too much ... He has had the unmeant goodness to perfectly cure me of all remaining tenderness for him.

Dodington approached Mann in 1758 to use his influence with Lady Orford to bring about a reconciliation, but Mann’s attempt proved unsuccessful.4 Nor was Shirley returned again for Callington in 1761.

He died 31 Oct. 1765.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: A. N. Newman


  • 1. Dodington’s Diary, 307.
  • 2. Mann to Walpole, 30 May 1755, 3 July 1756.
  • 3. Add. 34728, ff. 44-46.
  • 4. HMC Var. vi. 43.