STORIES OF OUR FAMILIES
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.
THE ENGLISH SHEPPARDS
This is a tale of a two brothers who came from the large family of James and Elizabeth Shepherd in Sussex, England. Their family story has been pieced together by researching many official records, and with the help of photos and personal records in a family Bible. The lives of these brothers took completely different directions, and left many descendants who would become scattered far and wide.
We have followed the family in censuses which were done every ten years. Interestingly, the earlier records show the family surname as Shepherd, but as we know for sure, the brothers Alfred and Charles wrote their name Sheppard.
My great-great grandfather
James Shepherd (Sheppard), born abt. 1823 in Chichester, Sussex, England
The handwritten identification on the back of James' photo provided
a vital clue in tracing the English Sheppard family line
JAMES AND ELIZABETH SHEPHERD (SHEPPARD)
Our story starts in 1851, during the reign of Queen Victoria, when a Census of England, Scotland and Wales was taken. James and Elizabeth Ann Shepherd were a young married couple, living with their family at St Pancras Street, in the parish of Saint Pancras, Chichester, Susex, England. James, born in Chichester and the head of the household, was 28 years old, and his occupation was listed as Gardener. Elizabeth, 25 years old, was also born in Chichester. They were already the parents of four children: Walter (6), Harriette (5), James (3) and one-year old William.
In 1861, the Census records that the family had moved to St. Martins Court, St. Martin, Chichester, in the county of Sussex, England. Ten years had passed, and four more children had been born. They were Charles (7), Alfred (5), Edward (3) and the baby Harry (1). At the time of the Census, James and Elizabeth were 38 and 36 respectively, and lived at this address with their family of 8 children. By now, the oldest child, Walter, was 15 years old, and his occupation was "Best Of Shoe Paster Apprentice". What exactly that was, one can only guess. Harriett, now 14, was the only girl of the eight children. James, at only 12 years old, was also a Best of Shoe Apprentice. All of the children after James, with the exception of one year old Harry, were 'scholars' - what we would call 'students' nowadays.
During this period, James Shepherd’s occupation as recorded in the Census was Gardener/Journeyman. The word journeyman comes from the French word journée, which means a period of one day. Essentially, that meant that he had finished his learning period or apprenticeship (most youngsters were apprenticed in those days to learn a trade) and had gone onto the stage of being relatively independent. He could travel around and offer his services for a daily rate; but he had not yet reached the stage of master or head gardener.
Ten years later, in the 1871 Census, we discover that James Shepherd and his family were back at their original address – St. Pancras Street, Chichester. At the time of the census, James was 47 years old, and Elizabeth 44. Their family had grown even larger with the addition of two more children. There were two more boys - Ernest who was then 9 years old, and a new baby called Stephen - just 8 months old. Those were the only two children living at home with them. Although their older brothers Charles and Alfred were just 16 and 14, they were not listed in the household; however, so far, we are unable to find them listed at any other residence. Elizabeth Shepherd’s occupation is never mentioned, but it is clear that she was a housewife all her adult life. She would have had her first child when she was 21, and her last child when she was 46 - occupation enough!
By 1881 we find the Shepherd family living at 6, Guilden Road, Oving, Sussex. James Shepherd, the gardener, was now 58 years old and his wife 55. The only child living with them was their youngest son Stephen, 10 years old - a scholar. I guess Stephen was what we would call in Trinidad their "lagniappe"! At their home at the time of this Census, there was also a lady called Jane Brenner, a widow of 55 years old, who was a 'lodger' or boarder. She was a ‘needlewoman’ from Hampshire. We don't know her connection, if any, with the family, but are curious to find out why she was living with them.
The final Census in which we find James Shepherd and his wife Elizabeth, was recorded in 1891; James and his wife Elizabeth were living at 2 Kingshame Terrace, Basin Road, Chichester. James was still a Gardener. Their youngest son, twenty-year old Stephen, was ‘Drapers Assistant’ and was living at this address with his parents in their golden years.
From notations on the back of a photo of the brothers Charles and Stephen, we believe that James and Elizabeth had thirteen children in all; but so far we have only been able to find ten of them.
Left is Charles Sheppard born 1853 and his youngest brother Stephen, born in 1862. The handwriting on the back of the photo is that of Charles' daughter Nellie, born in 1891.
This story continues with only two of James' and Elizabeth’s offspring – the middle children: Charles, who remained in England, and the brother who came right after him, Alfred Sheppard.
Alfred's life would take him to the island of Trinidad. There he would marry and make Trinidad his permanent home. He became my great-grandfather and that of all the Trinidad Sheppard/Mendes families of my generation.