Thomas Shepard (minister)

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Thomas Shepard (5 November 1605 – 25 August 1649) was an English, afterwards American Puritan minister and a significant figure in early colonial New England.

English people Nation and ethnic group native to 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 former British territories in North America

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.

Contents

Life

Shepard was born in Towcester, Northamptonshire. [1] 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. [2] 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 town in Northamptonshire, England

Towcester is a market town in Northamptonshire, England. It is the administrative headquarters of the South Northamptonshire district council.

Northamptonshire County of England

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, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

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. [3] 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 County of England

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.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

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 pus due to an infection behind the tonsil

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 Inflammation of the tonsils

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.

Legacy

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.

Richard Mather English colonial Congregationalist clergyman

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 in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

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 church building in Massachusetts, United States of America

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 ]

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References

  1. N. Adams (ed.), The Autobiography of Thomas Shepard, the celebrated minister of Cambridge, N.E., with additional notes of his life and character (Pierce and Parker, Boston 1832).
  2. "Sheppard, Thomas (SHPT619T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. Battis, Emery (1962). Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp.  189–248.
  4. In answer to the reverend servant of Christ, Mr. John Ball. By Thomas Shephard, sometimes fellow of Emanuel-Colledge in Cambridge, and late pastour of Cambridge in New-England (Printed by E. Cotes for Andrew Crooke, and are to be sold at the Green Dragon in Pauls Church-yard, London 1653).