Sir Thomas Shirley (1564 - c. 1620), elder brother of Sir Anthony Shirley was knighted while serving in Ireland under Sir William Fitz-William in 1589.

In 1601 he was chosen a member of parliament, but his time was mainly passed in seeking to restore the shattered fortunes of his family by piratical expeditions. In January 1603 he was captured by the Turks and he was only released from his captivity at Constantinople in December 1605.

His younger brother Sir Robert was also a noted adventurer. One of his sons was Henry Shirley the dramatist, who was murdered in London on October 31, 1627, and one of his grandsons was Thomas Shirley (1638-1678), the physician and writer.