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Arthur William Shelby Sr. was the father of the Shelby siblings. He abandoned the children when they were young, leaving them in the care of their aunt, Polly Shelby. He shortly returned during 1919, promising his son, Arthur that they were to build a casino empire, however this is revealed to be a ploy to get money from the Peaky Blinders.

He is shot sometime during 1924 in Boston after leaving a bar. The children, having not known their father or had a negative relationship with him, are not saddened about his death.

Character History

Background

Arthur Shelby Sr. was born in Ireland to a group of Irish Travellers and a Romani Gypsy Princess named Birdie Boswell. He eventually married a Romani woman in England. He made money by telling fortunes and stealing horses, he was a formidable boxer. When his wife died, Arthur Sr. walked out on his five children, Thomas, John, Finn, Ada and Arthur Shelby, some ten years before the start of the series. The family has rarely seen him since. He is remembered by most of the family as a hustler, a thief, and a whore-monger. However, his eldest son Arthur Jr. still has feelings for him.

Series 1 · 1919

When Arthur Shelby Jr. runs into his father Arthur Shelby Sr. in a bare-knuckle boxing club, he invites him for lunch at the Shelby home. When Thomas walks in, his reaction is like his Aunt Polly's; he's exasperated to see the father that abandoned his family. While his father proclaims that he's a changed man, Thomas won't have any of it. Arthur Sr. leaves and the conversation flips onto Thomas. Arthur Jr. points out the similarities between Thomas and their father.

Arthur Shelby Sr. and Arthur Shelby Jr.

Later, Arthur Sr. talks to his son Arthur Jr. about his idea to open a casino like the ones he's seen in America. Arthur Jr. having lost the leadership of the Blinders to Thomas, sees an opportunity to make something of his own with his father: Shelby Casino. He gives his father the money to start the venture, who tells his son to meet him at the boxing club on Friday.

When Arthur Sr. doesn't come to the meeting in the boxing club, Arthur Jr. tracks his father to the train station, where he is departing with the money he gave him. Realizing that he had been tricked, Arthur Jr. tries to attack his father, but Arthur Sr. overpowers him, pinning him against the wall and threatening to cut his throat. Arthur Sr. then leaves the city, feeling neither remorse nor regret about stealing money from his son.

Arthur Jr. is left shattered by his father's betrayal, to the point that he later tries to take his own life by hanging himself.

Series 3 · 1924

Episode 3 4 a.jpg

Thomas, Arthur, and John learn via a letter that their father was killed in Boston. He was leaving a bar and two men were waiting for him in an alley where they shot him twice. The writer of the letter, a woman named Rosie Rice (who presumably had the closest relationship to Arthur Sr. at the time) told the Blinders that he begged for their forgiveness whilst dying. However, they are not saddened about his death, and the closest remembrance they have of him being fond is when he taught them how to kill and gut a stag, that having been the only time that he was ever close to being a father.

They honor his death by hunting and eating a stag but decide that, afterwards, they will forget about him without forgiving him. They even decide that his first name should die, as neither John nor Arthur Jr. want to name their child after him, despite it being passed down through many generations.

However, after Thomas collapses and temporarily loses his sight due to a fractured skull, he murmurs as if to his deceased father, telling him that he could see him.

Personality

Arthur Shelby Sr. was a ruthless and cold-hearted man, when his wife was depressed and suicidal, it is implied by Charlie Strong that he didn't care and didn't help in any significant way. When his wife eventually died, he abandoned his children to his aunt, showing he was a very bad father.

He even lied and deceived his son to fund his immigration to America, when his son attacked him due to his treachery, he overpowered him and forced him against a wall, threathening to cut his throat and spill his blood on the floor.

It was implied though that there was one time where he bonded with his children by teaching them how to hunt and skin a deer, though Arthur explained he was only like this for a weekend. On his deathbed he begged his sons for forgiveness in a letter but, due to his many evil acts and treachery, he didn't get any and died a lonely death.

Trivia

  • Sometime in 1926, Tommy tells May Carleton that the gin he is producing uses his father's recipe.
  • Arthur Jr gave his father £500 from the Peaky Blinders to start a "casino", however his father ran off with the money.
  • He was a member of a boxing ring for some time.
  • Arthur Shelby Sr.'s face features a glasgow scar on his face. The reason for this has never been stated, but the actor, Tommy Flanagan, got the scars as a result of a knife attack outside a nightclub where he had been working as a DJ.

Relationships

Arthur Shelby Jr.

The relationship between Arthur and his son, Arthur Shelby Jr. is perhaps one of the closest of the Shelby siblings. Arthur returns to Birmingham, England on premise of opening a casino empire; much like those Arthur had heard about in America. The two become relatively close, with Arthur Jr believing in opening and building an empire with his father. The relationship between the two crashes, however when Arthur convinces his son to take £500 from the Peaky Blinders to start their empire — something he later realizes to be lies. Arthur is confronted by his son, but brushes him off and departs on a train for America, leaving his son heartbroken. When Arthur died, his son showed no signs of sadness for his loss.

Appearances

Series 1 Appearances
Episode 1.1 Episode 1.2 Episode 1.3 Episode 1.4 Episode 1.5 Episode 1.6

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