Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Shepherd, Luke

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SHEPHERD, LUKE (fl. 1548–1554), poet, born at Colchester in Essex, is called by Bale and others ‘Opilio,’ a latinised form of his surname. Bale considered his poetry, which was chiefly of a satirical character, not inferior to Skelton's (Scriptorum Illustrium Majoris Britanniæ Catalogus, ed. 1557–1559, p. 109). He may with great probability be identified with a certain ‘Doctor Luke,’ a physician of Colman Street, and a friend of Edward Underhill [q. v.] and other early reformers. According to Strype, Luke was imprisoned in the Fleet in Henry VIII's reign for some of his pamphlets (Ecclesiastical Memorials, 1822, II. i. 181–3). In 1548 he published a poem entitled ‘John Bon and the Mast Person,’ printed by John Day, an extremely powerful satire directed against the real presence. It was reprinted in facsimile, by J. Smeeton, in 1807 from the only copy extant, formerly in the possession of Richard Forster, and in 1852 it was edited for the Percy Society by William Henry Black (Early English Poetry, vol. xxx.). It is in the form of a conversation (in 164 rhyming lines) ‘more resembling the religious plays of John Bale than the poetry of Skelton.’ Sir John Gresham, lord mayor of London in 1547–8, was much incensed by the accounts given him of the book, and determined to imprison John Day the printer, but after perusing a copy, which Underhill showed him, he came to the conclusion that it was ‘bothe pythie and mery,’ and suffered Day to depart unpunished. Luke, however, appears to have been incarcerated in the Fleet for a second time, in the reign of Mary, on account of this book. He was the author of several other anonymous controversial pamphlets, and, according to Warton, of a translation of some psalms, published about 1554 (Hist. English Poetry, iii. 261).

[Black's Introduction; Nichols's Narratives of the Reformation (Camd. Soc. Publ. 1859), pp. 171–2, 325–6; Holinshed's Chronicle, 1587, iii. 1168; Brydges's Censura Literaria, v. 277–80; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, 1785, i. 619–20; Ritson's Bibliographia Poetica, 1802, p. 330.]

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