John Sheldon (c1808-aft 1855)
Father unknown
Mother unknown
Vital Information
Born 1801-1808 in Worcestershire, England
Spouse Rebecca Aldridge (1811-1846)
Married Jul 5, 1827 at St. Bartholomew, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Died after 1855, likely in Birmingham, England
1 Elizabeth Sheldon (1828-1851), never married
2 Emma Rebecca Sheldon (1830-1832)
3 Frederick John Sheldon (1832-1836)
4 Edward Sheldon (1834-1836)
5 Louisa Sheldon (1836-?)
6 Emily Rebecca Sheldon (1837-?)
7 Georgiana Sheldon (1838-?)
8 Alfred Sheldon (1840-1843)
9 Clara Jane Sheldon (1842-?)

John Sheldon was born sometime between 1801-1808 in Worcestershire, his two census records were inconsistent with the dates. He may have been the John Sheldon born at Old Swinford to John and Sarah Sheldon on Feb 7, 1808. The earliest confirmed record of him (so far) is his marriage to Rebecca Aldridge at St. Bartholomew in Edgbaston in 1827. Their first child of seven, Elizabeth, was born the following year. In 1833 he is listed for the first time in the city directories of Birmingham. At 31 Lancaster street he had a "manufactory" of steel toys, gun powder flasks and shot charges. Over the years he increased, expanded and raised the quality of his products. in 1839 he advertised spectacle cases and tobacco boxes among his other items. Two years later he had added moved to pencil cases and steel pens and in 1846 he published a large advertising announcement in the Birmingham Journal that he was moving his business from Lancaster street to a much larger location at 55 Great Hampton Street. His new stock included a "stock consisting of 3,000 to 5,000 dozens of the most improved patterns".

By 1847 his pencil cases were being produced in silver and gold and news of his stock was becoming well known. At the end of December that year his premises were hit by robbers who absconded with property valued at about 40 pounds according to the Birmingham Journal, and 50 pounds according to the Birmingham Gazette. The theft included 36 ounces of silver tubes and scraps, 38 dozen German silver pencil cases, 7 dozen German silver snuff boxes and a "great quantity" of other finished and unfinished goods.

More bad news came to John's business in April of 1849 when an 18 year old employee named John Peters suddenly fell ill and died while cleaning some shelves. The verdict of his death was "by the visitation of God". These unfortunate events did not seem to hinder the growth of the company. In the 1851 census his occupation was noted as a silversmith with 45 people in his employ. The last record of him is the 1855 city directory, still as a gold and silver pencil case maker.

NOTE: In the 1851 census a Mary Mapp is listed in his household as a cousin born in Hereforshire. At the age of 59 she would have been born in about 1792. She may be the key to learn John's parentage.


Census Records

  1. 1841 Census: St Mary, Birmingham - Lancaster St
  2. 1851 Census: St George, Birmingham - 55 Great Hampton St

City Directories

  1. Birmingham, 1833: Sheldon, John, manufr. of steel toys and gun powder flasks and shot charges, 31, Lancaster-street.
  2. Birmingham, 1839: Sheldon, John, spectacle case, tobacco box, gun shot charger, &c., manufacturer, Lancaster streeet
  3. Birmingham, 1841: Sheldon, John, general pencil case and steel pen manufacturer, Lancaster street
  4. Birmingham, 1849: Sheldon, John, gold & silver pencil case maker, 55 Great Hampton street
  5. Birmingham, 1855: Sheldon, John, gold and silver pencil case maker, 55, Gt Hampton st

Newspaper Articles

  1. Birmingham Gazette: Feb 22, 1836, deaths of two sons
  2. Birmingham Gazette: Nov 12, 1838, lost pocket book
  3. Birmingham Journal: Jun 6, 1846, moved manufactory
  4. Birmingham Journal: Aug 22, 1846, death of wife Rebecca
  5. Birmingham Journal: Jan 1, 1848, store robbed
  6. Birmingham Gazette: Jan 3, 1848, store robbed
  7. Birmingham Gazette: Apr 9, 1849, apprentice fell dead
  8. Birmingham Gazette: Mar 24, 1851, death of daughter Elizabeth

Vital Records

  1. Birmingham Church of England Marriages: 1827 - marriage to Rebecca Aldridge
  2. England Select Births and Christenings: 1828 - daughter Elizabeth
  3. England Select Births and Christenings: 1830 - daughter Emma Rebecca (died 1832)
  4. England Select Births and Christenings: 1832 - son Frederick John
  5. England Select Births and Christenings: 1837 - daughter Emily Rebecca
  6. England Select Births and Christenings: 1838 - daughter Georgiana
  7. England Select Births and Christenings: 1840 - son Alfred (died 1843)
  8. England Select Births and Christenings: 1842 - daughter Clara Jane
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