Percy Florence Shelley

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Sir Percy Florence Shelley
Percy Florence Shelley, Vanity Fair, 1879-12-13.jpg
"The Poet's Son", a caricature by Ape published in Vanity Fair in 1879
Born 12 November 1819
Florence, Italy
Died 5 December 1889(1889-12-05) (aged 70)
Education Harrow School
Trinity College, Cambridge
Title 3rd Baronet of Castle Goring
Spouse(s) Jane Gibson (m.1848–89; his death)
Parent(s) Percy Bysshe Shelley
Mary Shelley

Sir Percy Florence Shelley, 3rd Baronet of Castle Goring (12 November 1819 – 5 December 1889) was the son and only surviving child of English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. He was thus the only grandchild of Mary Wollstonecraft or William Godwin to live beyond infancy. His middle name, possibly suggested by his father's friend Sophia Stacey, came because he was born in Florence. He had two elder half-siblings, by his father's first marriage, to Harriet Westbrook.

Early life and education[edit]

His parents lived in Italy for several years, until his father drowned off Livorno, whereupon his mother moved back to England with him, her only surviving child, in 1822. Mary Shelley never remarried; Percy Florence had no further siblings. He joined Harrow School in 1832, and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1837.[1]

Adult life[edit]

Shelley inherited the baronetcy upon the death of his grandfather in 1844, becoming the 3rd Baronet of Castle Goring, Sussex. In 1845, giving his address as Putney (then a riverside village just upstream of London), he was elected to the Royal Thames Yacht Club.[2]

He married Jane Gibson on 22 June 1848, who had previously been married to the Hon. Charles Robert St. John, son of the 3rd Viscount Bolingbroke and the Viscountess Bolingbroke, Baroness Hompesch. The couple had no children, although they adopted Bessie Florence Gibson, the daughter of Edward Gibson who was possibly Jane Gibson's brother.[3] Bessie Gibson married Lieutenant-Colonel Leopold James Yorke Campbell Scarlett, and was the mother of Shelley, Robert and Hugh Scarlett, the 5th, 6th and 7th Barons Abinger respectively.[4]

He was appointed High Sheriff of Sussex in 1865. He appeared in the 'Men of the Day' series in Vanity Fair in 1879 as "The Poet's Son", a caricature by Ape. The caption reads: "But he delights above all in yachting and in private theatricals, and is even now engaged in building a theatre for amateur performers. He is a gentleman."[5] According to Yachting World, Shelley was a member of the prestigious and exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.[6]


Shelley died in 1889 and was buried in the family vault in the churchyard of St Peter's Church, Bournemouth, reputedly with the heart of his father alongside him. In that vault, in addition to the patrilineal family, lie the remains of his maternal grandparents, namely Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin; Shelley and his wife were instrumental in moving their bones from St Pancras Old Church in London.


A blue plaque was installed, by Bournemouth Borough Council, on 30 June 1985, in honour of Shelley, at the entrance to his former home "Boscombe Manor", now the "Shelley Manor Medical Centre".[7]


  1. ^ "Shelley, Percy Florence (SHLY837PF)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ "The Sporting Magazine; or Monthly calendar of the transactions of the turf, the chace, and every other diversion interesting to the man of pleasure and enterprize". 1845. 
  3. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "p. 134 § 1334 - Person Page 134". The Peerage. [unreliable source]
  4. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "p. 129 § 1287 - Person Page 129". The Peerage. [unreliable source]
  5. ^ "To The Manor Re-born". Dorset Life. Retrieved 29 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Bird, Belinda (18 May 2015). "Inside the Royal Yacht Squadron – we get a rare view of this most exclusive club". Yachting World. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  7. ^ "Percy Florence Shelley blue plaque". Retrieved 29 February 2016.