Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shepard, Thomas
SHEPARD, THOMAS (1604–1649), puritan divine, son of William Shepard, grocer, was born at Towcester, Northamptonshire, on 5 Nov. 1604, and, after a preliminary education in the free school there, proceeded to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was admitted a pensioner on 10 Feb. 1619–1620. He graduated B.A. in 1623, and commenced M.A. in 1627. During his residence in the university he adopted rigid puritan principles. For a time he resided in the family of Thomas Weld, minister of Tarling, Essex, and after 1627 became minister or lecturer at Earles-Colne, where he stayed three years. On 16 Dec. 1630 Shepard was summoned to London by Laud, then bishop, to answer for his conduct at Earles-Colne, and Laud forbade the further exercise of Shepard's ministry in the diocese of London. Shepard next became minister or lecturer at Towcester. Subsequently he was appointed chaplain to Sir Richard Darley, knight, of Butter Crambe, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He afterwards received a call to the ministry at Heddon, Northumberland; but, as he refused to subscribe to the Thirty-nine articles, he was silenced by Archbishop Neile.
In order to escape further persecution he went to New England, landing at Boston on 3 Oct. 1635. He was ordained pastor of a congregation at Newtown, afterwards called Cambridge, in February 1635–6. He took an active part in founding Harvard College, and its location at Cambridge was due to him. He likewise interested himself in the establishment of the Indian mission. He died at Boston on 25 Aug. 1649. He is described as ‘a poor, weak, pale-complexioned man.’ He was thrice married: first, in 1632, to Margaret Stoutville (d. 1636), a relative of his patron, Sir Richard Darley; secondly, in October 1637, to Joanna (d. 2 April 1646), eldest daughter of his early friend, T. Hooker; and thirdly, on 8 Sept. 1647, to Margaret Boradel.
As a writer Shepard holds high rank among puritan divines. His works are: 1. ‘The Sincere Convert; discovering the paucity of True Believers, and the great difficulty of Saving Conversion,’ London, 1641, 12mo, and 1643, 8vo; 5th edit. London, 1650, 8vo, again, 1659, 1672; Edinburgh, 1714, 12mo; Glasgow, 1734, 12mo; London, 1831, 12mo. This work was translated into the American Indian tongue by John Eliot and Grindal Rawson, Cambridge (New England), 1689, 12mo. 2. ‘The Sound Beleever. Or a Treatise of Evangelicall Conversion,’ London, 1645, 8vo; Edinburgh, 1645, 8vo; London, 1649, 1653, 1671, 8vo; Aberdeen, 1730, 12mo; Boston, 1736, 12mo. John Eliot (1604–1690) [q. v.], in a letter to the Hon. Robert Boyle, recommended that this treatise also should be translated into Indian at the expense of the Society for Propagating the Gospel (Birch, Life of Boyle, p. 449). 3. ‘New Englands Lamentation for Old Englands present Errours and Divisions, and their feared future Desolations, if not timely prevented, occasioned by the increase of Anabaptists, Rigid Separatists, Antinomians, and Familists,’ London, 1645, 4to. 4. ‘The clear Sun-Shine of the Gospel breaking forth upon the Indians in New England; or an historicall narration of Gods wonderful workings upon sundry of the Indians,’ London, 1648, 4to, reprinted in the ‘Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society,’ 3rd ser. iv. 24 (1834), and also in Sabin's reprints, New York, 1865, 4to. 5. ‘Certain Select Cases resolved, specially tending to the right ordering of the Heart,’ London, 1648 12mo, and 1650 8vo; Boston, 1747, 8vo. 6. ‘Theses Sabbaticæ; or the Doctrine of the Sabbath,’ London, 1649 4to, 1650 8vo, 1655 4to.
The following were published posthumously: 7. ‘A Treatise of Liturgies, Power of the Keys, and of matter of the visible Church, in answer to Mr. J. Ball,’ London, 1653, 4to. 8. ‘Subjection to Christ,’ London, 1652, 8vo. 9. ‘The Parable of the Ten Virgins opened and applied,’ edited by Shepard's son Thomas (see below) and J. Mitchell, London, 1660 and 1695, fol., 2 vols.; Glasgow, 1796, 8vo, 2 vols.; Falkirk, 1797, 8vo; Aberdeen, 1853, 8vo. 10. ‘The Indiane Primer’ [by John Eliot, in English and the Massachusetts-Indian language on opposite pages, the English compiled by Shepard], Boston (Mass.), 1720, 12mo. 11. ‘The First Principles of the Oracles of God,’ Boston, 1747, 8vo. 12. ‘Meditations and Spiritual Experiences,’ Boston, 1747, 8vo; Edinburgh, 1749, 8vo; Glasgow, 1847, 12mo. 13. ‘My Birth and Life, from the original Manuscript,’ first published by the Rev. Nehemiah Adams at Boston in 1832, and reprinted by Alexander Young in his ‘Chronicles of the First Planters of Massachusetts Bay,’ Boston, 1846. His collected works, published in 3 vols. Boston, 1853, 8vo, contain also: 14. ‘The Saint's Jewel, showing how to apply the Promise.’ 15. ‘Ineffectual Hearing the Word.’ 16. ‘The Church Membership of Children and their Right to Baptism.’ A manuscript volume of Shepard's works is in the library of the ‘New England Historical and Genealogical Society,’ Boston.
Of his children, Thomas Shepard (1635–1677), born in London on 5 April 1635, graduated at Harvard in 1653, was ordained pastor of the church in Charlestown on 13 April 1659, and died at Cambridge (Mass.) on 22 Dec. 1677. He published ‘Eye-salve; or A Watchword from Christ unto his Churches, esp. those within Mass., to take heed of Apostacy, May 15, 1672,’ Cambridge, 1673, 4to.[A Life of Shepard, by John A. Albro, which appeared originally at Boston in 1847, is prefixed to his collected works, 1853, and is reprinted in the Lives of the Chief Fathers of New England, vol. iv. (Boston, 1870); see also Addit. MSS. 5851 p. 48, 5858 p. 257, 5880 f. 89; Cat. of Boston Athenæum; Baxter's Reform'd Pastor, 1656, p. 157; Kennett's Register, p. 102; Mather's Hist. of New England, iii. 84 (chap. v.); pref. to Shepard's Subjection to Christ, 1652; Proc. Soc. Antiq. 2nd ser. xi. 348; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.]