Look well on this, my son, for one day I shall rule a clockwork kingdom of such beings, and you shall be its prince.

–John Shade talking about his automatons, Clockwork Prince

John Thadeus Shade was a warlock who lived in York, England. He was the adoptive father of Axel Mortmain.



At one point during the Crusades, John managed to trap a bit of the angel Ithuriel's spirit inside a clockwork pendant for his wife, Anne.

At one point after 1752, he also got ahold of the Book of the White, which he intended to use to create an army of automatons in order to protect Downworlders from Shadowhunters. Having perfected a binding spell, Shade managed to create a few premature models of the clockwork creatures, which he dressed in coveralls and functioned to dance around to please his son. While he claimed that he will one day rule a clockwork kingdom, whether he intended to use it in offense against the Nephilim is unknown.

Some time after 1815, he and his wife were killed by Aloysius Starkweather and other Shadowhunters on the grounds that the couple had unnatural and illegal dealings with demons. They were accused of creating a weapon that could destroy Shadowhunters, and the sentence was death. Since this was before the Accords, they were found guilty and killed without much thought; even their files in the Reparations archives were insubstantial.


Their adoptive son, Mortmain, filed for recompense through the York Institute, under the aegis of Starkweather, wanting the Shadowhunters responsible for his parents' deaths to be tried and punished. Starkweather refused him the trial.[1]

From then on, Mortmain had been plotting his revenge against the Shadowhunters, seeing their whole race responsible for the death of John and Anne.

Years later, Mortmain forced Tessa Gray to Change into John so he can get the binding spell he needed to complete his clockwork army.[2]

Physical description

John's demon mark was green lizard-like skin.