Dea. Ralph Shepard

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Ralph Shepard

Also Known As: "Rafe; Raph; Shepherd; Shepheard; Sheaphearde", "Ralph Shepard", "of Limehouse", "tailor"
Birthplace: Limehouse, Stepney, London, Middlesex, England
Death: September 11, 1693 (86-87)
Malden, Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Thankslord “Thanks” Shepard
Father of Sarah Shepard; Thomas Shepard; Isaac Shepard, Sr.; Tryall Power; Abraham Shepard, of Malden and 2 others

Occupation: tailor
Immigration: emigrated 1635 to Charlestown, Ma on "Abigail"
Managed by: George Sheppard Root
Last Updated:

About Dea. Ralph Shepard

Ralph Shepard migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1621-1640). (See The Great Migration (Series 2), by R. C. Anderson, vol. 6, p. 262)

Ralph Shepard

  • BIRTH: 1606: deposed age 29 in 1635.
  • ORIGIN: a tailor of Limehouse in Stepney, London, Middlesex, England. (See New England,
    • Short history of Limehouse – Though neither a parish nor an administrative borough until the mid 1700s (See BHO: "Limehouse"), Limehouse was a known-named neighborhood of Stepney before Ralph was born. For example: "GILBERT, SIR HUMPHREY (c. 1539–1583)… from 1573 to 1578 he lived in retirement at Limehouse, devoting himself especially to the advocacy of a North-West Passage (his famous Discourse on this subject was published in 1576)." (Wikisource; 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 12.) The etymology of the name Limehouse in Stepney originates from "local lime kilns or, more precisely, lime oasts, by the river and operated by the large potteries[3] that served shipping in the London Docks. The name is from Old English līm-āst "lime-oast", and appears in a 1335 record." (Wikipedia: Limehouse: Etymoloy.
  • IMMIGRATION: in 1636 he left England for religious freedom and brought his family to America
  • CONTRACTED: 1638 to cut wood for constructing the meeting house
  • RULING ELDER: February 9, 1645/45 of Weymouth Church, elected fence viewer of the lower plantation.
  • OATH: April, 1651 to be a freeman in Middlesex County.
  • DEATH: Aug 20 or 11 Sep 1693 (aged 86–87) Charlestown, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
  • BURIAL: Bell Rock Cemetery, Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • PLOT: Range 2 Row 5 MEMORIAL ID 5121803 Photos by Wendy Roberts & Ralph Hamilton Shepard III, Contributor Stanley Shepard Record

1893 Biography

  • A short biography posted in Sources and cited below is well-sourced and extensive (52 pp.) with sources available to the author before 1893.
    • Shepard, Ralph Hamilton. 1893. Ralph Shepard, Puritan. Dedham, Massachusetts: Author Published. Available at:
  • As for children of Ralph and Thankslorde listed on pp. 48-49, the author indicates mild doubt for Thomas as a son, moderate doubt about John's parentage, and much doubt regarding a Walter Shepard (who is detached from this profle.)

Parents are not identified

  • Seen as son of Isaac Shepard & his wife Mary of London, born in 1603, but that man was a goldsmith.


  • Spouse: Thankslord Perkins. Married 21 May 1632 at St. Bride Fleet Street, London, England. She died after 28 March 1675, when she acknowledged a deed.

Children list updated 20 May 2024

  1. Sarah Shepard, born 6 Aug 1633 in Stepney, Middlesex, , England. Ralph, wife Thankslord, and daughter Sarah departed for New England on the ship Abigail in June of 1635. No further record of Sarah has been found.
  2. Thomas Shepard, born abt. 1635/37 in Dedham, Norfolk, MA; died 17 Sep 1719 in Milton, Norfolk, MA. He married (1) on 19 Nov 1658 in Malden, Middlesex, MA, Hannah Ensign. He married (2) Joanna Shepard (Mrs).
  3. Isaac Shepard, born 20 Jun 1639 in Weymouth, Norfolk, MA; died 12 Feb 1676 in Concord, , MA. He married on 11 Dec 1667 in Concord, , MA, Mary Smedley.
  4. Trial Shepard, born 19 Dec 1641 in Weymouth, Norfolk, MA. She married Walter Powers.
  5. Abraham Shepard, born 7 Mar 1642 of Concord, Middlesex, MA; died 22 Feb 1716 in Concord, Middlesex, MA. He married on 2 Jan 1672 in Concord, Middlesex, MA, Judith Filbrook.
  6. Thanks Shepard, born 10 Feb 1650 in Malden, Middlesex, MA. She married on 13 Dec 1669 in Littletown, Middlesex, MA, Peter Dill (Dell).
  7. Jacob Shepard, born 16 Jun 1653 in Malden, Middlesex, MA; no further record.

A previous version of this profile included children for whom there is no evidence, namely:

  1. John Shepard, born abt. 1637 in Dedham, Norfolk, MA; died 15 Dec 1699. He married abt. 1660 in , Middlesex, MA, Sarah Cable.
  2. Walter Shepard, born abt. 1643 in Sudbury, Middlesex, MA; died abt. 1719 of Sudbury, Middlesex, MA.
  3. Walter Shepard, born abt. 1655 of Sudbury, , MA.
  4. Ralph Shepard, II, born abt. 1656 in Dronfield, Derbys, , England; died 26 Jun 1712. He married Ralph Shepard (Mrs).
  5. Daniel Shepard born abt. 1659 in Malden, Middlesex, MA; died 21 Dec 1686. He married on 21 Dec 1686 in Dartmouth, Bristol, MA, Mary Brice.
  6. Mary Harris, born abt. 1660/61 in Malden, Middlesex, MA. She married on 17 Sep 1688 in Concord, Middlesex, MA, Thomas Harris.

They've been detached unless further evidence is located.


Ralph Shepard was born bet. 1603 - 1606 in Limehouse, Stepney Parish, London, England, perhaps 1606 as he was aged 29 years on 30 June 1635. He died in Charlestown 20 August 1693. He was married at St. Bride Church, Fleet Street, London, 21 May 1632 to Thank-The-Lord "Thankslord" Perkins. She was born 1612 and died after 28 March 1675, the date on which she acknowledged a deed, with some stating 1693 in Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Ralph Shepard attended the first town meeting for Dedham on 18 August 1636 (a meeting which was actually held in Watertown) and was present at several other such meetings in Watertown in late 1636, suggesting that he lived for his first two years in New England in Watertown, even though there is no surviving record for him in that town. (There is no documentary support for the claim by Pope and Chamberlain that he settled first at Charlestown.) He was also an early signer of the town covenant. He was present at the first Dedham town meeting actually held in Dedham and continued to appear regularly at Dedham town meetings until 17 May 1639.

Ralph Shepard moved from Dedham to Weymouth in 1639 (sale of land in Dedham and birth of child in Weymouth in that year) and was still there in early 1646, when he was fence viewer. During this same period there are records for him at Rehoboth, but Ralph Hamilton Shepard concluded that the immigrant never resided at Rehoboth, and we concur with this assessment. On 10 January 1644[/5], the town of Rehoboth agreed "that all of those that are underwritten who have forfeited their lots for not fencing, or not removing their families according to a former order made the 24th of the 8th month [October] 1643, therefore we do enter upon them for and in behalf of the town, to be disposed of as the town shall think meet"; "Ralph Sheppard" was first in a list of eighteen men who forfeited their land.

He was a tailor by profession, he was known as a Puritan or non-conformist, he was brought before the Court of High Commissions as a nonconformist on April 24, 1634. No verdict is recorded.. On June 30, 1635 he along with wife and daughter set sail aboard the Abigail for Massachusetts, possibly as a result of that trial. It is most probably that he left England on account of the sentence of the Court.

On the last day of June 1635 accompanied by wife Thankslorde and daughter Sara he board the ship "Abigall" bound for New England. Once in America he probably settled first at Watertown, MA, then Dedham, MA and Weymouth. The people who started Dedham, of which Ralph Shepard was one, were Puritans. He apparently came to have 9 tracts of land in Dedham.

He first settled in Dedham, Mass., where he signed the Covenant, where he attended town meetings, 18 Aug 1636 and 17 May 1639, and sold land 21 Aug 1639. He lived next to Weymouth, where he had children recorded in 1639 and 1641. Soon after, he lived a short time at Rehoboth, where he was an original purchaser and attended a town meeting 31 Aug 1644, also in 1645. He then moved to Malden, where he had children recorded in 1651 and 1653.

On 19 Mar 1650/1, Richard Palgrave of Charlestown, physician, with consent of his wife Anne, sold to Ralph Shepard of Malden, taylor, five acres "on Mystik syde," and four "cow Lotts". Ralph Shepard of Malden, tailor, sold land there with consent of wife Thankslord, to Abraham Hill, 1 Feb 1663/4, and on 7 July 1666 with wife Thankslord sold to Benjamin Dunbar his dwelling house, barns, and 14 acres, apparently his homestead, together with other pieces of land in Malden and Charlestown. He is reffered to in some records as Deacon.

He seems to have removed to Concord Mass in 1665-66. On 25 Mar 1666 calling himself of Concord, tailor, he conveyed with his wife Thankslord to his son-in-law Walter Power of Concord, planter, 60 acres in Concord which he had purchased of Lt. Joseph Wheeler, and this deed was witnessed by Isaac Shepard and Jacob Shepard. On 29 May 1681, without mention of his wife, and in consideration of a sum paid mostly by Isaac Shepard, deceased, and the rest by Nathaniel Jewell, who married Isaac's widow, he conveyed to the children of Isaac Shepard (Isaac, Mary, and Samuel), part of his farm bought from Lt. Joseph Wheeler, bounded on lands of himself, Abraham Shepard, and Walter Power.

It has often been supposed, and sometimes stated positively in print, that Thomas Shepard of Charlestown and Malden was a son of Ralph Shepard. Circumstantial evidence pointing to this conclusion has long been known. On 3 May 1693 following the death of Peter Dill, his widow Thanks (proved daughter of Ralph Shepard) and eldest son gave bond as administrators and their sureties of were Walter Power and "Thomas Shepard Senr of Charlestown." Power was brother-in-law of Thanks, husband of Trial Shepard; and it would be reasonable to suppose that the other surety, Thomas Shepard was her brother. Thomas Shepard named sons Ralph, Jacob, and Isaac; the first could be for his father Ralph, the other two for brothers, known sons of Ralph. The argument from nomenclature is strong because Ralph was an old English name, not one of the Biblical or moralistic namesthen favored by the New England Puritans, who rarely bestowed old English names on their children except out of piety or to commemorate their parents and close relatives.

Nevertheless, documentary proof was lacking. Such proof was found by Mr. Thomas A. Burke of Cambridge, MA, in the Middlesex County Mass. land records, book 14, pp 562-64, at Cambridge, and published by Mr. Charles Shepard of Rochester, N.Y. A partition deed made 30 Mar 1808 between William Power and Walter Power, who were proved sons of Trial (Shepard) Power and grandsons of Ralph Shepard, in which they state they "have purchased a Certain Tract of Land of theire Two Cousin vizt. Ralph Shepard and Jacob Shepard" by a deed dated the previous 23 January 1707/8. Since these proved grandsons of Ralph Shepard called Ralph and Jacob Shepard their cousins, and since the only Shepard men of those names known to have been living at that time where Thomas's sons Ralph and Jacob, it follows that Thomas was a son of Ralph Shepard. The record of Ralph's daughter Sara, points out that Ralph of Malden was not the London draper of that name, with whom he has been erroneously identified in some printed works, as the draper died in London leaving a will dated 17 July 1652, proved 2 May 1653.

Savage says: Ralph Shepard, tailor, of Stepney, England, with his wife Thankslord (_____ ) or Thanks (Lord) Shepard and his two-year-old daughter Sarah, landed on the shores of New England in 1635 on the ship Abigall. Aboard the Abigail, Robert Hackwell, Captain and Master, producing the proper certificates from the minister and justices according to law stating, "Ralph Sheppard age 29, Thankes Sheppard age 23 (wife), Sara Sheppard age 2 (daughter), dated 29 Jun 1635" [8]

They settled first in Dedham, Massachusetts. In the course of the next fifteen years they moved four times, having bought and sold land in at least three of the locations, and settled finally in Malden, Massachusetts. During that time they had six more children, of whom five lived to maturity and had children [Shepard and Jacobus, The Shepard Families of New England, 5, 6, 14]. Both Ralph Shepard and his wife were able to sign their own signatures, a rare skill at the time, especially in the case of a woman [Shepard and Jacobus, 1, 3].

Shattuck makes him live some time at Concord; but earlier he was of Rehoboth, perhaps in 1644; and yet more prob. to me appears his resid. at Malden, where one of the not freq. name was bur. 11 Sept. 1693, aged 90, with moderate allow. for usual exaggera. See Geneal. Reg. IV. 66. Trial m. 11 Mar. 1661, Walter Power. RALPH, Milton, s. of Thomas of Malden, liv. at Brookline 1671--1712, had w. Mary, but no ch. is kn. Prob. his f. d. under his roof, and he d. 26 Jan. 1722.

Deacon Ralph Shepard was the son of [Isaac Shepard (born 1571 in London, England) and his wife, Mary, born about 1603] [NO - that Isaac was a goldsmith] in Limehouse, Stepney Parish, Middlesex, England. In 1630 Limehouse became the separate parish of St. Anne-Limehouse. It is now a part of London and adjoins the East End.

He was a tailor and draper. He married Thanklord about 1633. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Ralph and Thanklord Shepard. Children of Deacon Ralph Shepard and Thanklord Shepard:Sarah Shepard Thomas Shepard John Shepard Isaac Shepard Trial Shepard Powers Abraham Shepard Thankful Shepard Dill Jacob Shepard

On April 24, 1634, Ralph was summoned before the Court of High Commissions which was an ecclesiastical court instituted by the crown in the 16th century to enforce the laws of the Reformation. At this time William Laud (1573-1645) was Archbishop of Canterbury. He opposed the Puritan reforms. Ralph left England for religious freedom and brought his family to America before 1636.

He was present at the first town meeting and signed the Town Covenant of Dedham, Massachusetts in 1636 and was granted twelve acres of land. He was a member of the first Town Assembly of Dedham and received many other grants of land. (Kin of Mellcene Thurman Smith, p. 85) Of the 26 town meetings held in Dedham, Ralph attended 21 of them.

In 1638 he was paid to cut wood for constructing the meeting house. On February 9, 1645/45 he was made a fence viewer for the lower plantation. He was a Ruling Elder the in Weymouth Church. In April, 1651 he took the oath of a freeman in Middlesex County. He died on September 11, 1693 or August 20, 1693 in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He was probably visiting his son Thomas when he died.


“ The original tombstone was slate and is weather beaten and deteriorated from age, but it is now encased in a marble monument. . .The hourglass and crossbones tell us that time does not tarry and that death soon comes to all: while the wings on either side of the skull suggest the hope of a blessed immortality."



  • Although the surname is spelled Shephard on the gravestone, it was spelled in a variety of ways during Ralph Shepard's lifetime, including Shepard, the spelling retained by his male line descendants.
  • From FindaGrave, there are errors:
    • Birth: Jun. 3, 1606 - Dronfield, Derbyshire, England [SIC: birth date & place are not certain]
    • Death: Aug. 20, 1693 - Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
  • This individual has the following other parents in the Ancestral File:
    • Isaac SHEPARD (AFN:8VN7-79) and Unknown. Ralph Shepard was a London Goldsmith.
    • Birth ABT 1603 Stepney, St. Dunstan, Middlesex
    • Death EITHER 20 AUG 1693 OR 11 SEP 1693 Charlestown (Boston in 1873), Middlesex (Suffolk in 1873) County, Massachusetts
  • He lived at various times in Dedham, Rehoboth, Weymouth, Concord, andMalden[3]
  • Immigration 1635 Charlestown (Boston after 1874), Middlesex (Suffolk after 1874) County, Massachusetts


  3. Ancestry Genealogy - [4] SmartCopy: Aug 23 2021, 21:20:02 UTC
  7. Tom Bredehoft, Pettibone Registry, page 16, see K. Pontius. Ancestors and Descendants of Albro Dexter, p, 29
  8. R.C. Anderson's Great Migration Study Project (document attached)
  9. The Early records of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1636-1659 edited by the town clerk, Don Gleason Hill Published 1892 by Printed at office of the Dedham Transcript in Dedham, Mass . Signed the 1636 Dedham Contentment. Immigrant 1635
  10. WikiTree contributors, "Ralph Shepard (abt.1606-1693)," WikiTree: The Free Family Tree, ( : accessed 21 May 2024). cites
    1. Gerald Faulkner Shepard, compiler, and Donald Lines Jacobus, editor, The Shepard Families of New England: Volume 1, Ralph Shepard of Dedham (The New Haven Colony Society, New Haven, Conn, 1971), page 1
    2. Hotten, John Camden (editor). The Original Lists of Persons of Quality: Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others, who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. London: John Camden Hotten, 1874
    3. Photo of tombstone at Find a Grave #5121803
    4. Douglass, Penny G. , "Thankslord Perkins, wife of Ralph Shepard of Dedham, Massachusetts," The American Genealogist: Volume: 67 (1992), Page 29
    5. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634–1635, 7 vols., (Boston, Mass.:New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999–2011), 6 (2009): 262–269 ( subscription web site, subscription web site)
    6. Powers, Franklin E., A Genealogical Record of the Power(s) Families, unpaginated manuscript, Aurora, Colo., 1974 LDS Call Number: 929.273 P872pf Family History Library Salt Lake City State: Utah Page: #1
    7. Hill, D. G. "The Early Records of the Town of Dedham, Massachusetts. 1636-1659.", Vol. 3. Printed Records of the Town : Dedham, Mass., 1892. : 2024.
    8. Shepard and Jacobus, The Shepard Families of New England, pp 5, 6, 14]
    9. Shepard and Jacobus, pp 1, 3
    10. Anderson,, See also:
    11. Stearns, Ezra S. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire (Lewis Publishing Company, 1908) Page 792.
    12. Waterman, Thomas. Malden Burying-Ground, The New England Historical & Genealogical Register (NEHGS, Boston, Mass., 1850) Vol. 4, Page 66.
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Dea. Ralph Shepard's Timeline

Limehouse, Stepney, London, Middlesex, England
August 6, 1633
Stepney Parish, Middlesex, English
April 5, 1635
Probably on board the ship Abigail
July 12, 1635
Age 29
Limehouse, Stepney Parish, Middlesex, England; Emigration: to America
June 20, 1639
Weymouth, Norfolk County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America
December 19, 1641
Weymouth, (Present Norfolk County), Massachusetts Bay Colony
March 7, 1642
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
February 10, 1651
Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony