Much of my Shepard family research in recent years has focused on the descendants of James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (1784-1839) from Kirkwood, Ohio. I wrote in a blog post a few years ago that James and Hannah Sheppard had over 100 grandchildren. As a result, they likely have several thousand descendants in the US today, over two centuries later.
|Massachusetts Bay Colony|
Two of the earliest Shepard immigrants from England to Massachusetts were Deacon Ralph Shepard (1603-1693) and his wife Thankslord Perkins (1609-1693). Other given names among these early immigrants were:
- Thankful Shepard (1651-1692), Ralph and Thankslord's daughter
- Mary Thankful Dill (1676-1723), a granddaughter of theirs
- Thankful Knowles Shepard (1745-1764), daughter of a well-known Massachusetts Ship Master
- Samuel Lord Shepard (b.1885)
Clearly the New England Shepards were partial to Biblical names. They gave their kids names such as Charity, Joshua, Aaron, Moses, Solomon, and Hannah, as well as lesser-known Bible names like Hepzibah, Mehitable, Theophilus, Angelica and John Baptist.
But my favorite among all these pious monikers is this particular name: "O Lord Another William Shepherd" (1744-1801). Yes, there was an actual person with that name. Imagine going through life with a name like that. I am beginning to wonder if his parents Tom and Betsy Shepherd had a sense of humor and gave their son this name as a humorous gesture. "O Lord Another" was born in Grange, a small town in rural eastern Scotland in 1744 to Thomas Edward Shepherd and Betsy Sellars. He immigrated to Anson County, North Carolina and served in the American Revolution. One record shows that he applied for a pension for serving in the War. He died in Anson County in 1801.
O Lord Another's name suggests that William Shepard was a very common name for folks among our ancestors. Here's an interesting fact: in my family tree today there are 24 different men with the first name William and the last name Shepard, Shepherd, Shephard or Sheppard. All four last name spellings were common among our ancestors.
|Old family photo of William |
Henry Harrison Sheppard
Among the other William Shepards in our family tree is William Henry Harrison Sheppard (1840-1862) (pictured at left) named after the 9th President of the U.S.
In the mid 18th century when "O Lord Another William Shepherd" was born in Scotland, William Shepard was already in common use among our ancestors. That affection for the name William Shepard continues to modern times. In 1977 we gave our son the name Nathan William Shepard. My father was Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003). His father was simply William Shepard (1888-1976). His father was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), and his father was William Shepard (1835-1862). And so it goes.
The history of the name William Shepard in our family is varied. One would be hard pressed, however, to find a Shepard ancestor with a more colorful name than "O Lord Another William Shepherd."
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Steve Shepard (he/him/his)