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18th August 2021
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The “Shaw” name has always been synonymous with power. Unfortunately for the Shaws, power corrupts. This article will show how generations of the Shaw’s have “tainted” themselves with their thirst for power from as far back as the Salem witch trials, all the way on through to the far future. Since this article deals with many members of the Shaws over such vast time periods, it is impossible to guess at how distantly related some generations are from the last. As a result, in this article we will deal with the Shaws by time period.

The Salem Witch Trials

In 1692, English born Reverend Hiram Shaw was appointed minister of the town of Salem. At this time, the town was in the height of the witch trials. Hiram was hunting down witches with furor, which was rather ironic given that Hiram was secretly his time period’s sorcerer supreme. Hiram became very perturbed when his son, Obadiah, became involved with Abigail Harkness, a girl Hiram believed was a witch. He forbade Obadiah from seeing Abigail and was shocked when Obadiah refused to do so. That night, while he slept, Hiram was taken to Dormammu’s Dark Dimension. Dormammu warned Hiram that his thirst for power would condemn his bloodline and showed him dark visions of his family’s future. He then asked Hiram to submit to him and promised to “lighten his load.” Hiram, however, refused and was returned to Earth, where he found his wife, Sarah, dead. Hiram decided to turn Sarah’s death into an opportunity and blamed Abigail for the murder. Before her execution, Obadiah freed Abigail and the two fled to the harbor. Hiram pursued the escaping Obadiah and Abigail along with the townspeople. During the escape, Abigail shocked Obadiah by revealing her mystical powers and killing the pursuing townspeople, leaving only Hiram alive. Hiram was horrified, as he knew he could have prevented the deaths if he revealed his true nature. After this incident, Hiram disappeared. It’s unknown if Obadiah and Abigail remained together after he found out she was a witch. [X-Men: Hellfire Club #1]

[Note: Abigail Harkness is almost certainly connected to Agatha Harkness, long-time friend of the Fantastic Four and the Scarlet Witch, in some unrevealed way. It is simply too much of a coincidence. Agatha was active in Salem and was stoking the fires of the Witch trials in an effort to weed out weaker practitioners of the craft. She may have been a rival of Hiram and/or Abigail was acting on her behalf.]

Reverend Hiram Shaw (Sorcerer Supreme)

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1 (presumably deceased)

Powers: mystic of impressive talent, commanding a cloak of levitation and possibly one of the Eyes of Agamotto

Sarah Shaw

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1 (killed by Dormammu)

Powers: baseline human

Obadiah Shaw

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #1 (presumably deceased)

Powers: baseline human

The American Revolution

Obadiah recounted the events of his escape from Salem in a book titled The Truthful Account of the Salem Witch Trials. In his own words, “I give this accounting of those terrible days to cleanse my soul of their ungodly taint, and to protect future generations from the pestilence that is my namesake. Unfortunately for Obadiah, writing about his experience wasn’t enough to exorcise his family line.

One of Obadiah’s descendants was a poverty-stricken English runaway named Elizabeth, who arrived in Philadelphia aged thirteen. For Elizabeth, the move just meant she went from one gutter to another. In 1780, when Elizabeth was fifteen, a member of the Hellfire Club named Lady Grey noticed her and saw in Elizabeth something she could manipulate: ambition. Lady Grey subsequently made Elizabeth her protégé. Later, Lady Grey introduced Elizabeth to Major-General Wallace Worthington. Lady Grey had planned to use Elizabeth to get military information from Wallace. Everything seemed to be going to plan and, by 1781, Elizabeth and Wallace were married. Soon thereafter, however, Elizabeth told Lady Grey she felt she could no longer betray the man she loved. Lady Grey didn’t take this betrayal well and she had Wallace beaten to death in an attempt to gain the information Elizabeth failed to get her. [X-Men: Hellfire Club #2]

[Note: Elizabeth and Wallace had no children on panel. There is a possibility that Elizabeth was pregnant at the time of Wallace’s death, and that this child is the ancestor of the X-Men’s Angel, Warren Worthington III. This would be consistent with reporter Irene Merriweather's comment that Angel and Sebastian were related, which they would be (albeit distantly through the matrilineal line) if Elizabeth was Angel's ancestor and a sister of one of Sebastian's ancestors. See Worthington Family tree.

Elizabeth Shaw-Worthington

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #2
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #2 (presumably deceased)

Powers: baseline human

Victorian London

Across the pond, Elizabeth’s relatives managed to fight their way out of poverty and joined the English branch of the Hellfire Club. An unnamed Shaw was present in 1859 when En Sabah Nur and scientist, Nathaniel Essex attempted to ally with the Hellfire Club. During the meeting, one member of the club unwisely called En Sabah Nur a buffoon and was viciously killed. The unnamed Shaw, however, survived the incident and went on to father Cornelius Shaw in 1861. He was also the great-grandfather of Sebastian Shaw. [Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #2, Cable (1st series) #50]

San Francisco

Cornelius joined the British Army and rose to the ranks of Brigadier General. Little is known about Cornelius’ early life save that, like so many Shaws before and after him, he had a contentious relationship with his father, who he considered a “rotten wastrel.” Also like so many Shaws, he was a member of his eras Hellfire Club. In 1906, Cornelius was one of a number of Hellfire Club members who were posing as philanthropists in San Francisco. The group was funding the research of Dr. Nicolas Bradleys (father of Dr. Nemesis), who was hoping to create a renewable energy source. He was in the company of a woman named Salome, who it was implied knew his father, so she may have been his sister or wife. In reality, the Hellfire Club had constructed an early prototype of a Sentinel and wanted the Bradley’s energy source to power it. Their efforts were opposed by a group of time travelling X-Men, who managed to destroy the Sentinel and stop the Hellfire Club from retaining the power source. Unfortunately, in destroying the Sentinel, they also caused the “Great Earthquake of 1906” in San Francisco. Miraculously, Cornelius somehow survived, not only that day but he lived to middle age, dying on the 6th December 1915, 48 years young. Cornelius was survived by his two sons, Jacob and Elias, though one of the brothers would quickly follow him to the grave. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #512]

Cornelius Shaw

First appearance: none
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #3 (mentioned post mortem)

Powers: baseline human

During World War I

Cornelius had also been a member of the English Hellfire Club (possibly he left the States after the events of 1906) and upon his death there was now an opening. A high-ranking member of the club, Waltham Pierce, had selected Esau Shaw (one of Cornelius’s sons) to take his place. However, Cornelius’s other son, Jacob, had inherited the Shaw’s unquenchable thirst for power and wanted Cornelius’ position for himself. One night, Jacob was approached by Nathaniel Essex. Operating under the moniker of Mr. Sinister after having been genetically altered by En Sabah Nur, Essex was no longer a mere scientist. He experimented on Jacob, leaving him with the ability to shapeshift. In the guise of Waltham Pierce, Jacob killed his brother Esau. Next, Jacob posed as a woman and seduced Waltham to lure him to his own bedroom, intending to kill him. However, before Jacob got his chance, the original Union Jack, a friend of his brother Esau, intervened. Union Jack wanted to arrest Waltham, as he believed Waltham had killed Esau. During the ensuing melee, Jacob shot at Union Jack and managed to escape. [X-Men: Hellfire Club #3]

Esau Shaw

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #3
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #3 (killed by Jacob Shaw)

Powers: baseline human

Jacob Shaw

First appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #3
Last appearance: X-Men: Hellfire Club #4 (deceased)

Powers: artificially-engineered shape-changing power, enabling him to change his physical appearance and mimic the features of others

A Boy from Pennsylvania

After the incident in England, Jacob relocated to Pennsylvania, but he would remain in Mr. Sinister’s service for the next forty years. During that time, Jacob married and had a son he named Sebastian Hiram. In the meantime, Mr. Sinister had constructed a machine called the Cronus device. If Mr. Sinister died, the device would act as a failsafe, as it enabled his consciousness to survive in someone else’s body. Sinister’s mind would be able to possess the body of one of four mutant children into whose DNA he had encrypted certain genetic markers. One of these children was Sebastian. Jacob, however, wouldn’t allow this to happen to his son and managed to build another machine to prevent Sinister from transferring his mind into Sebastian. Just before Sebastian started his freshman year, Jacob suddenly took ill. The genetic alterations induced by Mr. Sinister had started to break apart his DNA. There was nothing the doctors could do and Jacob died. [X-Men: Hellfire Club # 4, X-Men: Legacy (1st series) #213]

[Note: Given that Jacob had betrayed Sinister by protecting Sebastian from the Cronus machine, it’s likely that Mr. Sinister found out and was responsible for Jacob’s death.]

Like Father, Like Son

Sebastian had inherited his father’s ambition. By the time he was thirty, he had made his first million, by forty his first billion, and he eventually joined the Hellfire Club I to gain even more power and influence. Just like the previous generations of the Shaws, Sebastian greatest threat would come from within his own family. At some stage, Sebastian had allegedly fathered a son named Shinobi with an unnamed Japanese woman. Considering his son a weakling, Sebastian had little love for him, causing the boy to grow to despise his father just the same. When he grew up and manifested his own mutant abilities, Shinobi attempted to take his father’s place. For a long time, it was erroneously thought that Shinobi had succeeded in killing Sebastian, and he went on to operate his own incarnation of the Hellfire Club II until his father resurfaced. [X-Factor (1st series) #67, X-Force (1st series) #48, 62] Going into hiding, he was eventually found by Sebastian and killed.

Later, he was one of several mutants who were magically resurrected by Selene during the Necrosha event to act as foot soldiers. The “zombies” all appeared to perish again at the end of the event. Years later, Shinobi would mysteriously resurface, along with other believed dead members of the Upstarts including Trevor Fitzroy (more on him later). When Selene’s spell was later reversed, ending her bid for apotheosis, Shinobi somehow remained among the living. [Necrosha Event] Regardless as to how he returned, it was short-lived, as during a particularly bleak period in mutantkind history he opted to commit suicide by solidifying his hand in his skull in Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #20 rather than risk capture by anti-mutant forces or bend the knee to Emma Frost, who was running the Hellfire Club at that time. In the Krakoan age, Sebastian was inducted into the mutants’ new government as a member of the Quiet Council. Using his new position, Sebastian petitioned the council for the revival of Shinobi under their resurrection protocols but with the removal of the memory of his suicide. Sebastian's request was granted and Shinobi was revived with no knowledge that he had died by his own hand. [Marauders (1st series) #3] When Sebastian's friend Harry Leland was also resurrected it was revealed that he had been Shinobi's real father all along. Shinobi's mother had been intimate with Sebastian and Harry but was unsure as to which one was her son's biological father. Sebastian said that he thought taking responsibility for Shinobi was the right thing but he now acknowledged that this endeavor had been truly disastrous for both of them especially for Shinobi. In stark contrast to the cold Sebastian upon hearing the news that Shinobi was his, Harry was overjoyed and instantly bear-hugged Shinobi wanting to know everything about him. Shinobi still a “Shaw” if only in name was very uncomfortable with Harry's affectionate display. If the two men can establish a father-son bond is unclear. [Marauders (1st series) #26] In remains to be seen if Sebastian either has already or will in the future father any biological children of his own.

Sebastian Hiram Shaw (Black King I)

First appearance: X-Men (1st series) #129

Powers: absorb kinetic energy or electricity into his body, immunizing him to most forms of physical injury while converting the energy into raw power that increases his strength and resilience

Shinobi Shaw (Black King II)

First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #67

Powers: manipulate the density of his molecular structure to increase his strength and durability, shift into an intangible state to pass through solid objects, or create an inter-phasing effect to remove parts of an object from the whole

The Far Future

In the so-called X.S.E. future, the Shaws managed to prosper, despite the horrific conditions towards mutants. Anthony Shaw was leading that time’s Hellfire Club. He had had a hand in the Summers Rebellion and, in the absence of the Sentinels, he’d managed to create an empire. Anthony favored his son William and was grooming him to eventually take his place. In similar fashion to the story of Esau and Jacob Shaw, William’s illegitimate brother, Trevor Fitzroy, wasn’t happy at Anthony getting what he believed he deserved. One night, Trevor arranged his stepbrother’s death, so that their father would be forced to accept him as his only son and heir. However, Trevor soon abused his new status and wealth and began to sadistically torture humans. His crimes became so severe that he was incarcerated. [X.S.E. #3] However, with the aid of another inmate, Bantam, he managed to escape into the timestream.

Anthony Shaw

First appearance: X.S.E. #3

Powers: unrevealed

William Shaw

First appearance: none
Last appearance: X.S.E. #3 (mentioned killed by Trevor Fitzroy)

Powers: unrevealed

Trevor Fitzroy

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #281
Last appearance: Bishop: The Last X-Man #14 (dissipated into time stream)

Powers: drain the life energy from other people upon contact, metabolizing it into different forms of chronal energy, allowing him to freeze people in a moment of time, reverse or accelerate their personal timeframe, and materialize portals that allow travel through time and space

Back to a Future

Upon arriving in the present day of Earth-616, the main reality, Fitzroy continued to commit atrocities. It wasn’t long before he became involved with aforementioned Upstarts, which included his ancestor, Shinobi. Later on, he also joined an incarnation of the Hellfire Club III, run by another of his ancestors, Sebastian. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #281, X-Man #21-22]

When Fitzroy’s archenemy, Bishop, decided to hunt him down, Fitzroy escaped to another alternate future. There he used his advanced technology to conquer the primitive Earth under the guise of the Chronomancer. He initially faced very little opposition, save from another Shaw, Sammara, of Clan Hellfire. Accidentally being transported to this timeline as well, Bishop started to craft a rebellion against Fitzroy. While Bishop was doing this, Fitzroy managed to convince Sammara to ally with him. This alliance with Sammara would prove to be in vain, as Fitzroy was soon defeated. During a fight with Bishop, Fitzroy opened one of his chronal portals and attempted to merge the Timestream in the hopes of becoming a god. For a moment, it seemed as if Fitzroy would succeed but Bishop grabbed his leg just as he was stepping into the portal and Fitzroy was ripped apart by the vast energies present. [Bishop: The Last X-Man #1-14] Fitzroy inexplicably appeared alongside Shinobi and other members of the Upstarts in Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #20 but in the following issue it was mentioned he was killed off-panel by anti-mutant forces. Whether or not he has or will be resurrected by the Five during the Krakoan age remains to be seen.

Sammara Shaw

First appearance: Bishop: The Last X-Man #6

Powers: unspecified mutant abilities that appear to be telepathic and telekinetic in nature, enabling her to fly, mentally shield herself from harm, and exert influence over the thoughts and actions of other people