Thomas Shepard (5 November 1605 – 25 August 1649) was an English, afterwards American Puritan minister and a significant figure in early colonial New England.
The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is the largest and most populous country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.
British America included the British Empire's colonial territories in America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America described the remainder of Great Britain's continental American possessions. That term was used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.
Shepard was born in Towcester, Northamptonshire.His devout mother died when he was four and he lived a difficult life under his stepmother. His father died when he reached ten, at which point he lived with his grandparents and later an older brother, whom he held in high and grateful regard. A schoolmaster ignited in him a scholarly interest, which ultimately led to entry into Emmanuel College in Cambridge University at the age of fifteen. He accounts in his autobiography that he lived a dissatisfied and dissolute life, which led him to pray out in a nearby field, at which point he underwent the beginnings of a conversion experience.
Towcester is a market town in Northamptonshire, England. It is the administrative headquarters of the South Northamptonshire district council.
Northamptonshire, archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015 it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by Northamptonshire County Council and by seven non-metropolitan district councils. It is known as "The Rose of the Shires".
Emmanuel College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer to Elizabeth I.
In 1627 he became assistant schoolmaster at Earls Colne Grammar School in Earls Colne, Essex. He became a minister whose sermons and Puritan ways drew the ire of Church of England Archbishop William Laud, and he was forbidden to preach. Following the death of his eldest son, he left England in 1635 with wife and younger son on a difficult voyage for Massachusetts in colonial America where he became minister of one of the leading churches in the colonies, the First Church in Cambridge (Congregational, currently UCC), Massachusetts and also of Harvard University, then a very new school charged with training men for the Christian ministry in the Puritan colonies of New England. From 1637 to 1638, during the Antinomian Controversy, he sat with the other colonial ministers during both the civil and church trials of Anne Hutchinson, and was a very vocal critic of hers during the latter.His wife died shortly after his arrival in New England, as did his second wife and other children, though he framed these experiences, if not without difficulty, into the perspective of his theology.
Earls Colne Grammar School was a grammar school in Earls Colne, Essex, England that was founded in 1520 and closed in 1975.
Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.
The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.
Shepard died of quinsy, a Peritonsillar abscess, which is a complication of tonsillitis at the age of 44.
Peritonsillar abscess (PTA), also known as a quinsy, is pus due to an infection behind the tonsil. Symptoms include fever, throat pain, trouble opening the mouth, and a change to the voice. Pain is usually worse on one side. Complications may include blockage of the airway or aspiration pneumonitis.
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, typically of rapid onset. It is a type of pharyngitis. Symptoms may include sore throat, fever, enlargement of the tonsils, trouble swallowing, and large lymph nodes around the neck. Complications include peritonsillar abscess.
Shepard was regarded as one of the foremost Puritan ministers of his day, esteemed in the company of individuals like Richard Mather and John Cotton. He took special interest in Puritan ministry to the Massachusetts Native Americans. His written legacy includes an autobiography and numerous sermons, which in some measure of contrast with others of his day, tended to accent God as an accessible and welcoming figure in the individual life. Today a plaque at Harvard University, in the words of Cotton Mather, records that it was in consideration of the salutary effect of Shepard's ministry that the college ultimately came to be placed in "Newtowne", known today as Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Reverend Richard Mather was a Puritan minister in colonial Boston, Massachusetts. He was father to Increase Mather and grandfather to Cotton Mather, both celebrated Boston divines.
Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".
In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".
While Thomas Shepard ministered nearly a century and a half before the Congregational/Unitarian split, both First Parish in Cambridge and First Church in Cambridge Congregational consider him to be their founding minister. While it is difficult to judge in a modern context with which church Shepard would have maintained an affiliation, it is safe to say that his trinitarian beliefs would have aligned him with the Congregationalists not the Unitarians. Thus any portrayal of Shepard must take into account his theological convictions when placing him in a congregation's lineage that was merely a permutation of dissatisfied Unitarian Congregationalists.
First Parish in Cambridge is a Unitarian Universalist church, located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a Welcoming Congregation and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The church is notable for its almost 400-year history, which includes pivotal roles in the development of the early Massachusetts government, the creation of Harvard College, and the refinement of current liberal religious thought.
Three of Shepard's sons followed him into the ministry; Thomas Shepard II, Samuel Shepard, and Jeremiah Shepard. Thomas Shepard II was an ancestor of U.S. Presidents John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt.[ citation needed ]
Solomon Stoddard was the pastor of the Congregationalist Church in Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He succeeded Rev. Eleazer Mather, and later married his widow around 1670. Stoddard significantly liberalized church policy while promoting more power for the clergy, decrying drinking and extravagance, and urging the preaching of hellfire and the Judgment. The major religious leader of what was then the frontier, he was known as the "Puritan Pope of the Connecticut River valley" and was concerned with the lives of second-generation Puritans. The well-known theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was his grandson, the son of Solomon's daughter, Esther Stoddard Edwards. Stoddard was the first librarian at Harvard University and the first person in American history known by that title.
Increase Mather (1639–1723) was a powerful Puritan clergyman in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was president of Harvard College for twenty years (1681–1701). He was influential in the administration of the colony during a time that coincided with the notorious Salem witch trials.
John Eliot was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians who some called "the apostle to the Indians" and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645.
John Cotton was a clergyman in England and the American colonies and considered the preeminent minister and theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He studied for five years at Trinity College, Cambridge and another nine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He had already built a reputation as a scholar and outstanding preacher when he accepted the position of minister at St. Botolph's Church, Boston in Lincolnshire in 1612. As a Puritan, he wanted to do away with the ceremony and vestments associated with the established Church of England and preach in a simpler manner. He felt that the English church needed significant reforms, but he was adamant about not separating from it; his preference was to change it from within.
King's Chapel is an independent Christian unitarian congregation affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association that is "unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship, and congregational in governance." It is housed in what was for a time after the Revolution called the "Stone Chapel", an 18th-century structure at the corner of Tremont Street and School Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The chapel building, completed in 1754, is one of the finest designs of the noted colonial architect Peter Harrison, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 for its architectural significance.
The Half-Way Covenant was a form of partial-church membership adopted by the Congregational churches of colonial New England in the 1660s. The Puritan-controlled Congregational churches required evidence of a personal conversion experience before granting church membership and the right to have one's children baptized. Conversion experiences were less common among second generation colonists, and this became an issue when these unconverted adults had children of their own who were ineligible for baptism.
The Cambridge Platform is a statement describing the system of church government in the Congregational churches of colonial New England. It was written in 1648 in response to Presbyterian criticism and in time became regarded as the religious constitution of Massachusetts. The platform explained and defended congregational polity as practiced in New England and also endorsed most of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The document was shaped most directly by the thinking of Puritan ministers Richard Mather and John Cotton.
Thomas Welde came to Boston on 5 June 1632 on the "William and Francis," a Puritan emigrant from England and the first minister of The First Church in Roxbury in Roxbury, Massachusetts from 1632 to 1641.
John Wheelwright (c.1592–1679), was a Puritan clergyman in England and America, noted for being banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Antinomian Controversy, and for subsequently establishing the town of Exeter, New Hampshire. Born in Lincolnshire, England, he graduated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1619, he became the vicar of Bilsby, Lincolnshire, until removed for simony.
James Freeman was the minister of King's Chapel in Boston for 43 years and the first clergyman in America to call himself a Unitarian. Unlike New England liberal Congregationalist ministers, who approached Unitarianism through Arianism, he was Socinian in theology and developed links with Unitarians in England.
James Janeway (1636–1674) was a Puritan minister and author who, after John Bunyan, had the widest and longest popularity as the author of works read by English-speaking children.
Increase Nowell, (1590–1655), was a colonial administrator, original patentee of the Massachusetts Bay Company, founder of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and first ruling elder of the First Church in Charlestown.
Thomas Brattle was an American merchant who served as treasurer of Harvard College and member of the Royal Society. He is known for his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials and the formation of the Brattle Street Church.
In the early 17th century, thousands of English Puritans colonized North America, mainly in New England. Puritans were generally members of the Church of England who believed that the Church of England was insufficiently reformed, retaining too much of its Roman Catholic doctrinal roots, and who therefore opposed royal ecclesiastical policy under Elizabeth I of England, James I of England, and Charles I of England. Most Puritans were "non-separating Puritans", meaning that they did not advocate setting up separate congregations distinct from the Church of England; a small minority of Puritans were "separating Puritans" who advocated setting up congregations outside the Church. The Pilgrims were a Separatist group, and they established the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Non-separating Puritans played leading roles in establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, the Saybrook Colony in 1635, the Connecticut Colony in 1636, and the New Haven Colony in 1638. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was established by settlers expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of their unorthodox religious opinions. Puritans were also active in New Hampshire before it became a crown colony in 1691.
The Antinomian Controversy, also known as the Free Grace Controversy, was a religious and political conflict in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. It pitted most of the colony's ministers and magistrates against some adherents of the Free Grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. The most notable Free Grace advocates, often called "Antinomians", were charismatic Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law Reverend John Wheelwright, and Massachusetts Bay Governor Henry Vane. The controversy was a theological debate concerning the "covenant of grace" and "covenant of works".
John Wilson (c.1588–1667), was a Puritan clergyman in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the minister of the First Church of Boston from its beginnings in Charlestown in 1630 until his death in 1667. He is most noted for being a minister at odds with Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy from 1636 to 1638, and for being an attending minister during the execution of Mary Dyer in 1660.
Congregationalism in the United States consists of Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition that have a congregational form of church government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England. Congregational churches in other parts of the world are often related to these in the United States due to American missionary activities.
George Phillips led, along with Richard Saltonstall, a group of English settlers up the Charles River to settle in what is now Watertown, Massachusetts in 1630. A Puritan who was part of the Great Migration from England to New England, Phillips was a contemporary of, and often shared differing views with, John Winthrop. He established the first Congregational Church in Watertown and was one of the early influencers of the Congregational Church in North America. His descendants number in the thousands and are well represented in American history in the clergy, local and national politics, business, and social justice arenas.