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Sir John Shaa or Shaw (died c.1503) was a London goldsmith. He served as engraver and later joint Master of the Mint, and as Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London. While Lord Mayor he entertained ambassadors from Scotland, and was among those who welcomed Catherine of Aragon to England. He is mentioned in a poem by William Dunbar.


John Shaa was the son of John Shaa of Rochford, Essex, and the nephew and eventual heir of Sir Edmund Shaa, Lord Mayor of London in 1482, whose son, Hugh Shaa, had died without male issue.[1][2] Shaa was also the nephew of Ralph Shaa (d.1484), noted for having preached a sermon at Paul's Cross impugning the legitimacy of Edward IV's children, including his heir, Edward V.[1]

Shaa had a sister, Elizabeth (d. 21 August 1503), who married William Poyntz (d.1504), esquire, of North Ockendon, Essex, by whom she had four sons and two daughters.[3][4][5][6]


Shaa was a London goldsmith. From 1462 until 1483 his uncle, Edmund, also a goldsmith, had been engraver to the Royal Mint. Sir John Shaa succeeded him in the post, and served for several years as engraver until on 20 November 1492 he and his fellow goldsmith, Sir Bartholomew Rede, were appointed joint Masters of the Mint.[7]

Shaa's sales of silver and gold plate to Henry VII are recorded in the privy purse expenses, and on two occasions he was also paid for furnishing Georges for the Order of the Garter. His financial dealings with Henry VII were on a considerable scale. On 13 January 1499 he was reimbursed £667 2s 11d for supplying New Year's gifts and for the 'making of divers jewels and setting and polishing of stones', as well as for funds supplied to 'Master Seymour' for the 'works at Windsor'.[8]

Shaa was elected Member of Parliament for City of London in 1495 and Sheriff of London in 1496-7,[9][10] and with his fellow Sheriff, Richard Haddon, was among those dubbed knight in June 1497 by Henry VII at the foot of London Bridge after the Battle of Blackheath.[11]

In 1501 Shaa was elected Lord Mayor. During his term of office, ambassadors were sent from Scotland to arrange the marriage of Henry VII's elder daughter, Margaret Tudor, with James IV, King of Scotland. At a banquet hosted by Shaa for the ambassadors in Christmas week in December 1501, the poet William Dunbar declaimed verses in honour of the City of London which included these lines in praise of Shaa:[12]

During Shaa's term as Lord Mayor, Catherine of Aragon arrived in London as the bride of Henry VII's eldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Shaa was part of the deputation of London civic authorities and members of the livery companies who were instructed to meet her ship 'in their several barges, after their manner accustomed, at Deptford', and to 'hail and salute her in the best manner they can'.[13]

While he was Lord Mayor, Shaa instituted a 'court of requests' in the City of London to administer justice more equitably. It proved unpopular, as it was said to have favoured the poor more than 'justice and good law required'.[14][15]

During his term as Lord Mayor, Shaa caused a kitchen to be added to the London Guildhall. He was said to have been 'the first that kept his feast there'.[16][10] He also instituted another tradition, the procession from the Guildhall to the state barge on which the Lord Mayor travelled to Westminster to be sworn.[10]

Shaa served a second term as MP in 1503.[9] He made his will on 26 December 1503, which was proved 14 May 1504, and was buried in the Mercers' chapel in the church of St Thomas of Acres.

Sir John Shaa's arms were Argent, a chevron between three lozenges ermine.[17]

Marriage and issue

In 1479 Shaa married Margaret Ilam, the daughter of a London mercer, Thomas Ilam (d.1482), and Jane Verdon,[18] by whom he had three sons and several daughters, including:[19]

After the death of Sir John Shaa, his widow, Margaret (née Ilam), married, as his second wife, Sir John Raynsford of Colchester and Bradfield Hall, Essex, by whom she had a daughter, Julian Raynsford, who married Sir William Waldegrave of Smallbridge, Suffolk.[28]

See also

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