Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Working on Wednesday: Ralph Shepard, Tailor

One of my paternal 8th great grandfathers, Ralph Shepard (or Sheaphearde, Shepheard, Sheppard, etc.) was born about 1606 in Stepney, Middlesex, east of the City of London. Tradition says he was baptized at St Dunstan's which was severely damaged in the Great Fire of 1666, rebuilt by Wren, and bombed by the Germans during World War II.

St Dunstan's on a map from 1615 

On May 21, 1632, he married Thankslord Perkins at St. Bride's, Fleet Street. Their daughter Sara was baptized in St. Dunstan's on August 9, 1633 and her father's occupation is given as tailor. (In the church record below, Sarah's entry is the third from the bottom of the left hand page.)

Source Information: Ancestry.com. London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives. Images produced by permission of the City of London Corporation Libraries, Archives

However, in the spring of 1634 "Ralph Shepard, of Limehouse, tailor" came to the attention of the Court of High Commission, an ecclesiastical body prosecuting non-conformists, and he was called before them several times to answer questions about his religious beliefs.

What the final decision of the Court of High Commissionwas isn't known but in June/July of the next year Ralph Sheppard, age 29, his wife Thankes Sheppard, age 23, and their daughter Sara, age 2, embarked on the ship Abigail in London, bound for New England and a completely different life.

In Massachusetts, Ralph became a land owner, buying and selling property as he moved a number of times before settling in Concord sometime before 1666. He continued to be described as a tailor in deeds and he and his wife were able to sign their names to those documents.

He died in Charlestown (now part of Boston) on August 20, 1693, Thankslord having predeceased him. There is a gravestone for him in Bell Rock Cemetery in Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Source: findagrave.com; photo posted by Wendy Roberts (#46939433)

I'm related to him and Thankslord through two of their seven children, their oldest son Thomas and their daughter Trial.

For more information about Ralph Shepard see: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VI, R-S, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009, pages 262-269. It's available online to members of New England Historic Genealogical Society.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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