17. John Sheldon

Buried at The Birmingham General Cemetery (Key Hill)

Section K : 329


The memorial inscription reads:-


Sacred to the memory of JOHN SHELDON of Handsworth who departed this life November 15th 1863 in the 59th year of his age. Also of Clara Jane daughter of the above who died October the 25th 1863 aged 21 years, and in loving memory of Elizabeth Amelia wife of the above who fell asleep on Sunday November 3rd 1907 in the 83 year of her age.



John Sheldon stands supreme amongst early nineteenth century manufacturers of writing equipment. His ingenuity, inventiveness and skill were outstanding particularly in items for the traveller. This is epitomised in his Unique Pocket Companion and Escritoir which provided the traveller with pen, pencil, postal balance, toothpick, coin gauge, stamps and seals. Also the Telescopic Pocket Balance graduated for worldwide postal rates. Ten Designs for writing equipment were Registered between 1842 and 1853. During 1841 and 1856 he also registered four hallmarks of his initials in different scripts.


Research suggests a birth date of 1808 ( but could have been 1802 ). In the early 1820’s he worked in partnership with Smith at 57 Lichfield Street, Birmingham making spectacle cases, tobacco boxes and gunshot charges. In 1832 the partnership was dissolved and his manufactory moved to 38/39 Lancaster Street, Birmingham where additional manufacture of pencils, pen cases and the Escritoir were commenced. A further move to 55 Great Hampton Street, Birmingham ( still standing today ) allowed for greater manufacturing capacity for his range of goods which by now included gold and silver ever pointed pencils, pen cases, guard and Albert chains, thimbles, spoons, forks, butter and fish knives, snuff boxes, card and cigar cases. 45 people were employed at this address.


John Sheldon continued manufacturing till 1860 when the manufactory was taken over by Derry & Jones continuing to make the same range of goods. John Sheldon retired to Watt Place on Soho Hill where he died of apoplexy on 15th November 1863 and was buried in Key Hill Cemetery.


John Sheldon married Rebecca Aldridge in 1827 at St Bartholomew’s, Birmingham and they had eight children. Rebecca died in 1846 and is buried in St Philips Cathedral, Birmingham. On 17th June 1852 he married again by licence at St Peter and St Paul in Aston. His bride Elizabeth Amelia Yates who bore him three more children. His daughter Clara aged 21 was buried in the family grave in Key Hill on 25th October 1863. His wife Elizabeth Amelia was also buried in the family grave on 3rd November 1907. She belonged to the Yates family of Birmingham, her brother Edwin Yates also buried in Key Hill was Mayor of Birmingham in 1865.


Brian George