TWENTY-SIX GREAT MIGRATION COLONISTS TO NEW ENGLAND & THEIR ORIGINS
By JOHN BROOKS THRELFALL
Madison, Wisconsin 1993
FHL US/CAN BOOK AREA 974 D2thj
RALPH SHEPARD was born in England about 1606. On 21 May 1633 at Saint Brides church, London, he and Thankslord Perkins were married. She was born about 1612 and apparently died between 1675 and 1681.
Ralph Shepard apparently was one of those who at this time were struggling for religious liberty. On 24 April 1634, when Archbishop Laud was persecuting the non-conformists, Ralph Shepard of Limehouse, Middlesex, was summoned before the court of High Commissions. This was an ecclesiastical court for the vindication of the peace and dignity of the church, by reforming, ordering and correcting the ecclesiastical state and persons and all manner of errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, offenses, contempt's and enormities. The sentence pronounced against Ralph Shepard is not given, but he probably left England on account of it. (Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Charles I).
He came from Stepney, near London. Limehouse was then a hamlet in Stepney parish Saint Dunstan's-in-the-East. In 1730 Limehouse became the separate parish of Saint Anne-Limehouse, It was from the minister in Stepney parish that he obtained his certificate when he left for New England, and here his first child was baptized.
On the last of June, 1635, Ralph Shepard, tailor, his wife Thanklord, and daughter Sarah sailed from London on the ship Abigail bound for New England. According to the ship's entry, he was then 29 years old, his wife 23, and his daughter two. The first mention we find of him in America is in the records of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts. He perhaps first settled at Watertown, but soon left with a company of people from there to settle Dedham, a plantation up the Charles river. The first town meeting, held 18 August 1636, was attended by Rafe Shepheard. At the meeting it was ordered that there be set out and measured to him twelve acres of land. The first nineteen settlers, including Ralph Shepard, signed the Covenant on or prior to 5 September 1636. In its first paragraph they state:
"We whose names are here unto subscribed doe in the feare and Reverance, of our Allmightie God, mutually and severally p'mise amongst ourselves and each to other to p'ffesse and practice one trueth according to that most p'fect rule, the foundation whereof is Everlasting Love.
At a town meeting held 23 March 1636/7 Ralph Shepard and three others were granted a parcel of meadow as it lyeth upon ye River, between ye barren hills & ye sayd River: in consideration of their paynes taken in first discovery of the North side of our Towne. At the meeting held 11 May 1637, Ra: Shepherd and fifteen others agreed to take four acres of swamp land, apiece, and to clear a fourth of it each year. At the 28 July 1638, meeting Ralph Shepard and four others were granted 16 acres 3 rods and 12 poles lying downe stream next above ye pond, to divide between them to make up for their half lots. Shepard got the over plus towards satisfaction of yt he parted with at home.
From the time of the settlement of the town of Dedham until 17 May 1639, there were twenty six town meetings and Ralph Shepard attended twenty one of them. Soon after this he moved to Weymouth as his son Isaac was recorded there as born 20 June 1639. The sale of his Dedham land was confirmed by the town 21 August 1639.
It is probable that he and his family lived at Weymouth until about 1650. During that time he was active in the acquisition and sale of land not only at Weymouth but also at Dedham and Rehoboth. On 31 June 1644, he receive at Weymouth a share of woodland and on 9 June 1645, he was granted a lot on the great plain. He seems to have had there a home lot of eight acres, a lot No. 54 containing nearly thirteen acres in the Woodland plaine, one acre and 2 rods of fresh meadow, and three and 3/4 acres of salt marsh.
On 3 July 1644, Ralph Shepard and twenty-nine others signed a compact instituting a government of nine men for the town of Seaconk, afterwards named Rehoboth. The first division of land was granted by the Court of Plymouth to the inhabitants of Seaconk about 1643. The division was according to "person and estate" and that of Ralph Shepard was £121.l0s. Apparently he did not settle in the town for its records show that he was among those who "forfeited their lots for not fencing or not removing their families to Reboboth according to an order made 24 October 1643". On 9 February 1654, he and Nicholas Byram were appointed Viewer of Fences at Weymouth for the lower Plantation.
It is likely that he had removed to Malden by 1650. He was not one of its incorporators in 1649, but he took a part in the ordination of Mr. Matthews in 1650. At a county court held at Cambridge 1 April 1651, Ralph Shepard took the freeman's oath. On 19 April 1651 he, being described as a tailor of Maiden, bought of Richard Palgrave, a physician, a lot of upland lying by the North Springe on Mistik Syde containing five acres and four "cow lots". The colonial church authorities did not approve the town's choice of Mr. Matthews and steps were taken to remove him. On 28 October 1651 Mrs. Thanklord Shepard and 35 other women of Maiden and Mystic Side signed a petition on behalf of their pastor asking that he be permitted to remain with them. At the county court held at Cambridge 2 April 1661, Ralph Shepard was appointed administrator of the estate of Jane Learned, made a verified inventory thereof, and acknowledged himself indebted to the treasurer for 50 shillings on behalf of his son-in-law Walter Power.
On 5 March 1663/4, Ralph Shepard, tailor, and his wife Thanklord, sold to Abraham Hill for £3.l0s. an acre ‘All that my land both pasture and . . . broken upland' at Maiden; and on 7 July 1666, Ralph and his wife sold to Benjamin Bunker for £10 paid and £150 secured to be paid, his dwelling house in Maiden with all the outhouses, barnes, stables, orchards, yards, gardens and land thereto adjoyning containing by estimation 14 acres; also 15 acres of swamp land lying in the great swamp, 3 acres lying within the bounds of Charlestown by the north spring, and six hay lots within the bounds of Charlestown. The land within the bounds of Charlestown was, no doubt, at Mystic Side. Prior to the sale of his lands at Malden, Ralph Shepard had moved to Concord, Mass,and was there at the time of the sale of the last tract. Apparently John Shepard, son of Ralph, had gone to Concord by 1661 and was granted land by the town that year. Others from Charlestown and Mystic Side went to Concord about that time. In 1666 Ralph Shepard bought a farm at Concord from Lieut. Joseph Wheeler for £140. It contained 610 acres of upland, swamp and meadow, ‘butted on the northeast by Chelmsford line, on the southwest by Nashobah Plantation and southeast upon a great pond called Nagog, a triangle with the point to the northwest. This triangular tract was situated between the Indian Plantation of Nashoba, and that part of Chelmsford now Westford with Nagog pond as a base. The apex was 2 miles and 140 rods north of the southwest end of the pond. This territory was then called Concord village. He did not get the deed to this land until 4 April 1679.
Apparently all of Ralph Shepard's family were with him at Concord with the exception of his daughter Sarah and his son Thomas; and all of them appear to have lived on contiguous farms. His son Isaac, prior to his death by the Indians, had bought of his father a part of the Wheeler farm and was in possession of it, as shown by a deed executed by the father 4 July 1681 and witnessed by Abraham Shepard. The deed recites that for a valuable sum of money paid by Isaac Shepard, deceased, for the most part, and the remainder by Nathaniel Jewell, Ralph Shepard sold to Isaac Shepard, Mary Shepard and Samuel Shepard, children of said Isaac Shepard, deceased, part of the farm he bought of 1.4. Joseph Wheeler, viz, a house lot bounded on the south by his houselot, on the west partly by the Indian plantation and partly by land of Peter Dill, on the north by Abraham Shepard, and on the east by Walter Powers. He also conveyed the lower end of the long meadow bounded westerly by Abraham Shepard, part of the great meadow bounded easterly by Abraham Shepard, All which parcels were in the possession of Isaac Shepard aforesaid, and occupied by him in the time of his life, and also a one third part of my said farme yet undivided.
On 31 March 1675, Ralph Shepard and his wife, of Concord, sold to their son-in-law Walter Power of Concord, a parcel of land both upland and meadow, situated in Concord and part of the land purchased of Lt. Joseph Wheeler, containing 60 acres. It was bounded on the northeast by Chelmsford, on the northwest, southeast and southwesterly by Shepard's own land. On 4 July 1681, the day he made a deed to the children of Isaac Shepard. Ralph Shepard also conveyed to his son Abraham of Concord, that part of his farm which he purchased of Lt. Wheeler within the bounds of Concord and adjacent to the Indian Plantation called Nashobey comprising a house lot bounded on the south by the house lot of Isaac Shepard's children, on the east and part of the north by Walter Powers, and on the west by Peter Dill; also the upper half of the long meadow, a swamp of 4 or 5 acres at the head of said meadow, part of the Great Swamp bounded on the west by a ditch, taking the whole breadth of the meadow above the ditch, bounded on the north by Walter Powers, and a third of his "said fame that is yet undivided".
The deed executed by Ralph Shepard 31 March 1675, was signed by his wife, Thanklord, but those executed 14 July 1681, are not, so probably she had died in the meantime. There seems to be no record of her death, or place of her burial. Ralph Shepard's death is recorded on the Charlestown records and he was buried at Malden, apparently dying while staying in the home of his son Thomas.
The Charlestown records state: ‘Ralph Shepard aged ninety years dyed August 20th, 1693. His tombstone in the old Bell Rock Cemetery in Malden reads: Here lyes ye Body of Ralph Shepard aged 90 years. Died September ye 11, 1693. The grave is near the center of the cemetery. The original stone was slate but is now inset in a granite monument. The hourglass and crossbones signify that time does not tarry and that death comes to all, while the wings on either side of the skull suggest the hope of immortality.
SARAH, b 6 Aug. 1633, bapt. 9 Aug. at Stepney Parish, Middlesex, England; no record after 1635 passenger list
THOMAS, b about I635 at Watertown or Dedham, m at Malden 19 Nov. 1658, Hannah Ensign who was bapt. at Hingham 6 July 1640, dau. of Thomas & Elizabeth (Wilder) Ensign of Scituate; admitted to church at Charlestown 2 Sept. 1677, dismissed to Maiden church SI Jan. 1689/90; he gave his age as about 48 on 24 Nov. 1683 it.: Thomas, Hannah, Ralph, John, David, Jacob, Isaac; also a res. of Medford, but d at Milton where his son Ralph lived, 29 Sept. 1719 ‘In ye 87th year'-g.s.; Hannah d 14 March 1697/8 ae 59-g.s. at
Maiden; he m 2, Joanna _______ who survived him.
JOHN, probably b about 1637, probably at Dedham; m Sarah Goble, dau. of Thomas & Alice, bapt. 27 May 1638; had land at Nagog Pond near Ralph which suggests he was another son he lost an arm; res. at Concord; 5 ch.: John, Mary, Martha, Daniel, Dorothy; d 15 Dec. 1699
ISAAC, b at Weymouth 20 June 1639; apparently died as a,, Infant, probably 1643/4
TRIAL, b at Weymouth 19 Dec. 1641; m at Malden 11 March 1660/61, Walter Power who was b 1640. They settled on a tract in Concord Village, now in town of Littleton, & adjoining the Indian plantation of Nashoba which her father bought of LA. Wheeler. He built his house on the north side of Quagany Hill about half a mile from the garrison house & less distant from Nagog Pond. In 1694 he bought from the Indians 1/4 part of the township of Nashoba. He d 22 Feb. 1707/8. She survived him many years; both buried in the old Powers burying ground. 9 children
ABRAHAM b 7 March 1642/a at Boston; m 2 Jan. 1672/a at Concord Judith Philbrick, prob. a gr. dau. of Thomas Philbrick; he d 22 Feb. 1715/16; 1662/a ‘gone to Cape Faire'; res. Concord; admin. his brother Isaac's estate; Ch,: Sarah, Abraham, Judith, Hepzibah, Thanks, Mary, Hannah
ISAAC, b about 1644; m 10 Dec. 1667 at Concord, Mary Smedley, only dau. of Baptiste & Katherine Smedley; 3 ch.; killed at Concord by Indians 12 Feb. 1675/6; she m 2, 9 Jan. 1676/7 Nathaniel Jewell, had 3 more children Isack (his mark) Shepherd, aged about twenty-two years, deposed that he saw Mr. Perckines, who sometimes lived at Waymouth, at the Maiden ordinary, and he called for sack. Goody Hill told him that he had had too much already, and Master Perkins replied, "If you thinke I am drunke let me see if I Can not go". He went tottering about the kitchen and said the house was so full of pots and kettles that he could hardly go, and he asked deponent to call the constable to set him in the stocks if he were drunk, and I tould him that I was a going and wente about my besenes', Sworn, Oct. 27, 1665, before Thomas Danforth.
THANKS, b 10 Feb. 1650/51 at Maiden; m 13 Dec. 1669 at Chelmsford Peter Dill or Dell, prob. son of George &Abigail; res. Concord; 7 ch.; he d 13 Aug. 1692, she surviving
JACOB, b 16 June 1653 at Malden; killed by Indians 12 Feb. 1675/6 with his brother Isaac; unm.
Ref.: Ancestors and Descendants of Albro D. Shepard, by W.C. Shepard, 1949; The Shepard Families of New
England, 1971; Ralph Shepard & Some of His
Descendants, Dedham Historical Register 14, 1903;
V.R.; Essex County Quarterly Court Files.
AN INCIDENT OF KING PHILIP'S WAR CONNECTED WITH THIS PLACE
Source: FHL film #1321409, item 13, "Proceedings of the Littleton Historical Society"
Read at a Meeting of the Society, November 2, 1894, by Herbert Joseph Harwood.
The war led by Philip, of Mount Hope, against the English was the most severe struggle of the Massachusetts and Plymouth Colonies, and one which imperiled their very existence. Philip was a man of great ability and power, well worthy of the title of king, and had succeeded in uniting nearly all the various Indian tribes of southern - New England against the English who, owing to a peace of about thirty years preceding, were none too well prepared for war.
It broke out in June 1675, and at first was confined principally to Plymouth Colony. After various engagements during the summer and fall, the great Swamp Fight took place on December 19, in which, alter hard fighting, the Indians were defeated and the stronghold of the Narragansetts captured. This was the turning point of the war, but, unfortunately, the success was not followed up. Philip and the Narragansetts retreated north into the Nipmuck country, now Worcester county, where the Nipmucks made common cause with them. The English forces pursued into the woods between Marlborough and Brookfield whence, unfortunately, they returned a to Boston, early in February, for supplies. This was a fatal blunder, as it left Philip's forces between the Connecticut river towns and those in the eastern part of the colony, in a position in which they could strike in either direction, an advantage of which the Indians were not slow to avail themselves, and a series of disasters followed.
On February 1, the Eames family were attacked in Framingham, and ten persons killed or carried captive by Netus, a Nipmuck chief, and his band. On February 10, Lancaster was burned, and about fifty people killed or captured, including Mrs. Rowlandson, and on February 12, the Shepard family - living in what was then Concord Village, now a part of Littleton we call Nashoha, was attacked. At this time the Nashobah Indians, about forty eight in all, of whom' about twelve were men, had been removed from their home, and, according to orders of the Council dated November 19 and December 9, put under the care of John Hoar, of Concord, who lived, as Gookin says, about the midst of the town and very nigh the town watch-house.
Of the Shepard family. Ralph, at some time and perhaps as early, as this, lived on the Pickard place. His son Isaac was married, had three children Isaac, Mary and Samuel and lived on the south side of Quagana hill, near and probably in the rear of Mr. Jeffrey's. Jacob Shepard was a younger son of Ralph and probably married; Abraham, probably the oldest son was married, and as his place was the Charles Houghton farm, now Mr. Brown's, he may have been living there then. Walter Powers had married Trail, daughter of Ralph Shepard, and as he had bought land of his father-in-law and taken possession of it in 1666, he had, no doubt, built and was living in the garrison-house near by.
Ralph Shepard came to this country in the Abigail, from Stepney Parish, London, in 1633, at the age of twenty- nine, with his wife Thanklord, or Thankslord, aged twenty-three, and daughter Sarah, aged. two. They probably first lived in Watertown, afterwards in Dedham, Weymouth, Rehoboth and Maiden, where he was a deacon in the church, before coming to this neighborhood where he bought, of Lieut. Joseph Wheeler, of Concord, six hundred and ten acres lying in the font of a triangle between the Indian plantation of Nashobah, and that part of Chelmsford which is now westford. Nagog pond formed the base of the triangle, and the apex was two miles, one quarter and sixty rods north from the southwest end of Nagog pond, which would bring it to a point on the Westford line, on or near the Deacon Manning farm, but south of the road. The children of Ralph and Thanklord Shepard were:
Sarah,born in England, 1633
Abraham, married January 2, 1673, Judith Philbrook
Isaac, born June 20, 1639; married 1667 Mary Smeadly.
Triall, born in Weymouth, December 19, 1641; married January 1, 166o, Walter Powers.
Thankful, born February 10, 1650; married at Chelmsford, December 13, 1669, Peter Dill.
Jacob, born June, 1653.
(Perhaps) Ralph, who died Janury 26, 1711 2, aged 56, at Dedham.
Mary, born about 1660-1662
Neither Isaac or Jacob had education and signed their names with a mark.
At the time of the attack by Indians, February 12, 1675 6, the ground was covered with snow; it had been so deep that snow shoes had been worn by Indian spy, Job Kattenanit, who arrived in Cambridge February 9, from New Braintree,to warn Major Gookin of the attempt on Lancaster, and on February 11 more snow fell, as related by Mrs. Rowlandson.
February 12, came on Saturday. Isaac and Jacob Shepard were threshing in their barn, which tradition places on tbe south side of the lane to Mr. Pickard's house and near the road. Mary, their sister, had been stationed on Quagana hill nearby to watch for Indians, and a tradition told me by Charles W. Reed, places her on a boulder on the southerly side of the hill near the top. While putting very little value on tradition as compared with records and contemporary writings, yet, I will say for this spot that it seems to me a very probable place for a person on the watch as it would be sightly and at the same time easy to be brushed clear of snow, in order to sit or stand on its flattened top. It is probable the Indians approached from the northerly side of the hill and while Mary, who was a girl of about fifteen years, looked perhaps with longing eyes toward the house, or found it pleasanter to face the south, rushed up and caught her unwares. Amos Leighton, now seventy-nine years of age, gives a tradition to the effect that the chief of-the band held Mary while the others made the attack.
Isaac and Jacob were killed, the house burned and Mary Carried away, captive. That only one house was burned as related in the "Old Indian Chronicle," compiled from tracts of the time, leads me to think that perhaps it and the garrison house were the only ones Then standing, and that the garrison was strong enough to resist the attack. It also occurs to me, that perhaps this fire accounts for the construction, at or near the garrison, of the underground shelter. It was nothing unusual in those days for several families to huddle together for safety in one house, and the two dwellings may easily be imagined to have held all the persons I have mentioned and perhaps others.
Just where the Indians took Mary Shepard, or how long she was absent, I am unable to state. Traditions say that she escaped during the night of the same day, and reached home by early morning; also there is a tradition related by a lady who believes herself descended from Mary Shepard, Mrs. Adolphus Merriam, of South Framingham, to the effect that the horse on which she escaped was a mare belonging to the Shepards which was taken by the Indians leaving her colt behind, and that she came home rapidly to find her foal, and announced her arrival by a whinny. Mr. Joel Proctor adds the tradition that the horse was a pacer.
In this connection it may be interesting to mention a record of horseflesh, in the possession of the Shepards, which I found at the Registry of Deeds in East Cambridge, Vol. II, page 387. It is as follows:
July 2, 1674 Abram Shepard of Concord hath in his custody a stray mare abt. 7: years old, sorriel, Branded A on the ner (near) Buttock, a starr in her forehead.
Was this the animal on tthich Mary Shepard made her escape? Unfortunately for this interesting story of the family mare, we have contemporary history of a trustworthy kind to disprove it. Hubbard in is Narrative of the Indian Wars, written about a year after, says of Mary Shepard that she ‘strangely escaped away upon a horse that the Indians had taken from Lancaster a little before' This would indicate That her captors were among - those who attacked and burned Lancaster February 10. Hubbard also says that it was probably Netus and his band who attacked the Shepard family, and there is nothing inconsistent in the two suppositions, but I will speak of Netus later.
Mr. Foster says: Tradition says that this girl was carried by the savages to Nashaws, now called Lancaster, or to some place in the neighborhood of it. To me It seems certain that she was carried beyond Lancaster, because the notes of Samuel Gardner Drake to the Old Indian Chronicle say that Mary Shepard was the girl who escaped and gave intelligence to Capt Mosley that the Indians were in three towns beyond, Quoboge, (also spelled Quabaug,) that is Brookfield. The Chronicle says:
Upon this the Governor of Massachusetts sent out about Five hundred or Six hundred Men under the Conduct of Major Thomas Savadge and Captain Mosely as next in Command to him, who having Intelligence by a girl that had made her Escape that the Indians were in three Towns beyond Quoboge, marched thither, whence they joined Major Treat with the -Connecticut Forces; but the Enemy were fled: only skulkingly out of the Woods, they shot one of Capt. Moselys Men and wounded one or two more. But their main body being closely pursued despersed and ran into Woods and Swamps, so that it was impossible for our Men to come up with them and therefore marched away for Hadley and Northampton, etc.
This agrees with Mrs. Rowlandson's account of the consternation of the Indians and their hurrying her away in an unexpected direction, soon after which she learned that the troops nearly overtook them. As Mary Shepard was no doubt carried beyond Lancaster, it is possible that the tradition of the mare and foal is true to the extent that the colt was left in Lancaster add the mare hurried back there to it, or possibly the colt followed to the Shepard's and was left there.
Mr. Foster continues in relating the tradition, That in the dead of night She took a saddle from under the head of her Indian keeper when sunk in Sleep increased by the fumes of ardent Spirit, put the Saddle on a horse, mounted on him, swam him across Nashawa river, and so escaped the hands of her captors and arrived safe to her relatives and friends. Mrs. Rowlandson says, however, that the only time during her captivity when she saw any intoxication was just before her release, when John Hoar had given her master some liquor as part of the ransom and he got drunk on it.
Amos Leighton has the tradition that the saddle was under Mary Shepard's own head, the chief having given it to he for a pillow, and a blanket to cover her. However the saddle may bave been placèd, she escaped, and Netus, if he were her captor, must be credited with killing one less person than he might His career of butchery was soon brought to an end by a death similar to those he had caused, for in the very next month, on March 27, at Marlborough he was killed by a party Of English under command of Lieut. Jacobs and his wife was sold. Another of his band, Annecoeken, was dead before the close of summer. Others are mentioned in a warrant for their arrest issued by Thomas Danforth, Magistrate, August 11 as follows: Joshua Assatt, John Dublet Son-in-law to Jacob, William Jackstraw and two of his sons, the name of the one Joseph, also Jackstraw'S wife, all of them late of Moguncog Indians.
Three of them, William Wanuckhow, alias Jackstraw, and his two sons, Joseph and John, were examined by Mr. Danforth August 14, and confessed the Eamnes murders also accusing two others, Joshua Assatt, alias Pakananunquis, then serving under Capt. Hunting of the English force at Marlborough, and Awassaquah, who was sick at the Ponds. the three were committed prison and Joseph was indicted, with probably the others who were tried September 18.
Barry's History of Framingham, from which I have taken these facts about Netus' band, says further: How many of their accomplices, if any? were afterward brought to justice does not appear. Gookin states that ‘three were executed about Thomas Eames his burning' The execution took place September 21. ‘Two of the murderers' according to the petition of the Eames Sons, ‘Old Jacob a chief man sometime at Natick, and Josh~ Assunt returned and were pardoned and lived at Natick many years after.' Danforth's notes of the Examination mention also Accompanatt alias James Philip,
DEATH: Age 90