One of the most interesting individuals in the annals of the Newbon family is John Shelton, husband of Walter and Ann Newbon’s daughter Susannah. Little would be known of John were it not for a fascinating set of documents kept at The National Archives which relate to an unfortunate incident that took place in 1809/10. These documents have led to the discovery of a large number of related documents in other repositories that help to give a vivid picture of John’s life, and Susannah’s, at particular times.
It seems that John and Susannah Shelton had no children of their own. They married in 1800, a month before the marriage of Susannah’s elder sister Ann Newbon, also at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. Susannah was clearly close to a number of members of the Newbon family: for example, her younger brother Charles was to have been one of the executors of her will (although his own death in 1859 prevented him from discharging this particular duty), and she left a number of bequests to her nieces and nephews. During the difficulties of 1810 Susannah’s brother James gave invaluable support to his brother-in-law John Shelton, who had given his name to James’s son James Shelton Newbon (1806-63) as a middle name just a few years before.
John and Susannah Shelton lived at 73 Great Suffolk Street, Southwark for the majority (and possibly the entirety) of their married lives. John’s death has proved very difficult to trace. He disappears from the records of Southwark during 1838, although no death, burial or will have been found. Although it might be inferred that John died around this time - not least because his wife Susannah can be found on the 1841 census living with her widowed elder sister Ann Edge in Lewisham - John Shelton does appear in several later documents. He stood as one of the three executors of Joseph Cooper of Charlton, Kent in 1839, and the ledgers of the Bank of England (see below for details) suggest that John was still alive in 1846 but state that he had died by 1855. Most interesting is a Bank of England entry from 1846 that lists John as ‘of Bath, esquire’. Unfortunately, no further evidence has so far been found to expand on this. It may have been that John was not well towards the end of his life - an understandable result of having lived for so many years in a dust yard - and thus moved to the celebrated spa resort for his health, possibly leaving his wife behind in London. It seems that the couple did not separate, however, since Susannah was listed as ‘widow of John Shelton, dust contractor’ on her death certificate in 1861.
The censuses of both 1851 and 1861 list Susannah Shelton as a widow, suggesting that John most likely died between 1846 and 1851. In both 1851 and 1861 Susannah was living with her sister Ann’s daughter and son-in-law Mary Ann and Charles Meredith at Selhurst Road, Croydon. It was at that address that Susannah died on New Year’s Day 1864 at the age of 86, interestingly the same age at which her mother had died in 1829. She was buried in the same grave as her sister Ann in Nunhead Cemetery.
John Shelton’s early life
Several City of London freedom records exist for individuals with the name John Shelton. On the reverse of one from the Company of Tylers & Bricklayers dating from 1804 is written ‘John Shelton son of Samuel Shelton of the parish of Charlton in the county of Kent farmer deceased [????] thirty day of July 1804 admitted to the freedom of the company by redemption’. Because of John Shelton’s links to Charlton through the family of Joseph Cooper this John Shelton is almost certainly the husband of Susannah Newbon.
An Internet search reveals a memorial inscription from the graveyard of the parish church at Charlton which runs as follows:
In memory of Samuel Shelton, who died the 12 Dec, 1803, aged 75 years. Also Mary Shelton, who died 21 August, 1806, aged 73 years.
This would seem to be John’s father and most likely his mother also. Samuel would have been born around 1733 and would probably have been in his late 30s when his son John was born. Mrs Ann Cooper, wife of Joseph, was most likely John’s sister, born around 1757 and over 10 years his senior.
John Shelton’s professional life
A search of marriage allegations via www.ancestry.co.uk revealed a bond from February 18th 1800 prior to the marriage of John Shelton and Susannah Newbon in which John is listed as a coal merchant. By 1809 he was a ‘dust contractor’, but it would probably have been a smooth transition from one profession to the other, both involving work the streets with horses and carts. From 1809 John held a large number of contracts (hence the references to him as a ‘contractor’) in his role as a ‘scavenger’ (in other words someone who ‘cleansed’ the streets). The most comprehensive list of his professional duties comes from one of the 1810 documents at TNA and runs as follows:
John Shelton for himself further saith that he is the contractor for cleansing of the streets and that he holds under the Commissioners of Sewers of the City of London, Langbourne, Lime Street and Leadenhall wards Leadenhall Market and Bishopshgate Within, Coleman Street, Honey Lane Market and Cheap ward, Bridewell Precinct, Bridge, Candlewick and Dowgate wards and London Bridge - the he holds the following other contracts viz.t the west and east division of the Borough of Southwark and east half hundred of Brixton, the whole of the Clink Liberty, the Surrey Bye Roads together with the cartage of the soil from the sewers from Lambeth to Rotherhithe in the County of Surrey and that he in consequence thereof is necessarily obliged to keep in his employ upwards of fifty horses and nearly one hundred men in the carrying on and compleating [sic.] his aforesaid several contracts and which men so employed are of a very low and bad description and who therefore want personally to be looked after in doing their daily labour.
By the late-1830s John Shelton had gone into partnership with James Bowes Kitchner, who can be found at 73 Great Suffolk Street in 1841, by which time John Shelton may well have died.
In 1810 John Shelton spent some months in the Horsemonger Lane Gaol as a result of an alleged assault. It seems that several prominent citizens were set up by a notable local rogue. The TNA documents relating to this incident can be read here.
John Shelton at the Bank of England
A search of the records of the Bank of England revealed that, as suspected, John Shelton did indeed hold Bank of England stock (3% consolidated annuities). This stock (to the value of £1055 12s 7d) was purchased with 2 other men (Richard Hindson of Kennington Common and John Freeman of Millbank Street, Westminster) on 1st April 1846. The following Bank of England ledger (for 1855) states that both John Shelton and Richard Hindson were dead by that date).
Most interesting is that John Shelton is listed as ‘of Bath, esquire’ in 1846.
It is certain that this John Shelton is indeed the husband of Susannah Newbon since in 1839 all three men were the executors of Joseph Cooper’s will, on which document he is listed as ‘of Great Suffolk Street, Southwark, contractor’.
It is likely that John Freeman was the husband of Mary Ann Cooper, Joseph’s daughter, who had died in 1821.