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F.J. Sheppard – Auckland

February 1974

The following account of my ancestry has been written for my daughters; but it is hoped that other relatives will find it of interest.  I have included all the information currently available to me; but, clearly, much more could be discovered by research in England and elsewhere; and I hope to have further opportunities for undertaking it.  If not, the facts recorded here (as opposed to the family legends) should provide a useful starting point for anyone who is similarly inclined.

My father was 55 years old when I was born (10.8.1921), and his father had died 48 years before.  By the time I began to take an interest in family history Dad was an elderly man; but he possessed an old man's love of reminiscence, and frequently told us what he knew of his family background.  He found me an avid listener.  Generally, his stories were consistent; but of course they were mostly second-hand. To a great extent he had obtained his information from his widowed mother, who had never met any member of her husband's family except possibly a brother-in-law in the days when (my) Grandfather Sheppard was still alive.  It would be surprising if some element of fable had not entered the record, and I have since discovered various minor errors, which must cast doubt on the complete accuracy of the rest.  Although I spent 15 months in my father's company when we worked his Whakaronga dairy farm together in 1939-40, and questioned him closely about both his father's and mother's families, it is now clear that he did not recall everything during that period.  My elder sisters know stories that I never heard, possibly learnt directly from our Grandmother whom they remember well, but who died in 1923 before I was two.

My father had a few papers relating to his forbears. My mother had none. All information regarding her family had been passed down by word of mouth, although the descendants of her elder brother (from who she was estranged for many years) may perhaps hold written records.

My father was the youngest of four sons born to William Horder Sheppard and his wife Elizabeth, nee Roberts.  All four were born in Ballarat where the couple met and married, probably about 1857, when he was 27 and she 23.  They were:-

William Poynton S.      (9. 8. 1858 - ». 7.1869)

James Horder S.         (4. 5. 1860 - 194 )

George Alexander S.      (7.10. 1863 - ?  )

Frederick John S.        (6. 7. 1866 - 24.3. 1942)

How W.H.S. came to Ballarat is not precisely known, but when my

grandmother met him he was a druggist.  Then or later, and in partnership

with a man called Poynton/ran three (my sister Betty says four) shops,

two (at least) in Ballarat, and one in Geelong.  He also became involved in gold mining, although as a speculator rather than an operator; and finally, and disastrously, he became financially interested in a theatre.  It appears that he "backed" a play, or perhaps the whole enterprise; and when Brown, the entrepreneur, got into difficulties Grandfather decided that the only way to recoup his losses was to run the theatre himself.  He brought players from England, and staged performances; but bad led to worse, and ultimately to bankruptcy.  Poynton was not involved in the final debacle, having already prudently dissolved the partnership.

It was presumably these events that prompted my grandfather to leave Ballarat for Hokitika, where once again he established himself as a druggist.  He left Elizabeth and the four boys behind;  and I have the following letter written from Ballarat by my uncle Willy on 10th March 1869.

"My dear Papa,

I am writing a few lines although I am afraid my letters are anything but interesting to you, as my knowledge of affairs are very simple.  However we were all very glad to hear that you were so much better, and it seemed to give mamma fresh hopes for she is very low spirited at times.  We are all very well which is a blessing as there is so much sickness about amongest children. I do not go to the doctor now for ma says she thinks they do not take sufficient interest in me.  James and I are not going to school just now.  It is not worthwile.  We are very lonely, we seldom have any one to see us.  Mr Brettle took the Queens

Head Hotel but as usual he is generally the worse for drink.  The license was taken in another persons name and he as done all he could to get Mr. B. out and at last he was obliged to allow himself to be bought out, and now he is knocking about anywhere.  Mr and Mrs Lake where here the other night he said he would write to you. have you ever tried your gas experiments since I often think I see you at work over the charcoal fire.  Mt T. Brown is still a staunch teetotler and Rechobite the shop is in much better order than it used to be.  I was wondering if you have ever heard of Mr Hurnphury or have you ever played his favourate game Ucha.  Mrs Curtis wishes to be remembered to you she has her nephew and neice staying whith her she is going to have a party tomorrow.  I think there will be about 17 or 18 children there James George and I are invited.  Mr Jones has at last been obliged to resign.

What do you think of Mr J. Elford being in for the council.  Mr Wright has been to Spring Creek but could not do anything   there he is out of business altogether. There has been a monster nugget found at Dannoly only two inches from the surface it has been named the Welcome Stranger and the two men who found it could hardly lift it into the cart.  The Duke did not pay a visit to Ballarat this time for he left for New South Wales yesterday.  I suppose you will have the pleasure of seeing him again for I suppose they will make it a holiday there.  I dont think I have any more to tell you at present.  Mamma and the children with myself all send our kindest love to you goodbuy God Bless you

and am My dear Papa

your affectionate son,

W.P. Sheppard"

Willy was precocious but doomed; he suffered from hydatids, and later that year he died.  The following fragment appears to be part of a letter written by Grandfather to the oldest surviving son, James, in the interval before the family were re-united in Hokitika. It is the only piece of writing in my grandfather's hand other than a few entries in note books.

"........whom I hope you will grow up a better man.

Give my love to George and Fred and kiss them for me.

I hope before long that something may occur which may bring your mother yourselves and me together again not early to part. Till then do all you can to help".

Hokitika was then a busy gold-mining town with a population estimated at 40,000.  It was rather remarkable for the number of newspapers which were launched.  In "Newspapers in New Zealand" (A.H. and A.W. Reed 1958} G.H. Scholefield under the heading "Robust Struggles in Hokitika" lists

The West Coast Times                       1865       (Daily)

The Leader                                 1865       (Weekly)

The Despatch                               1866       (Daily)

The Evening Star                           1867       (Daily)

The Westland Observer                      1868       (Daily)

The Weekly Observer                        1868       (Weekly)

The New Zealand Celt                       1867       (Weekly)

The Hokitika Advertiser                    1865       (Weekly)
(later the Westland Evening
Mail, a daily)

The Hokitika Daily News                    1868       (Daily)

The Westland Independent                   1870       (Daily)

The Tomahawk                               1869       (Weekly)

The Lantern                                1869       (Weekly)

The Westland Register                      1872       (Daily)

Most of these publications were short-lived, including the last, of which Scholefield writes:-

"In 1872 another penny daily, the Westland Register, was launched by William Horder Sheppard, a newcomer to journalism.  It was taken over in 1873 by a joint stock company of which the Superintendent (James A. Bonar) was chairman. Designed "as a mere protest against ignorance and presumption", it proved nothing on that point, but did demonstrate that Hokitika could not support two morning dailies.  The assets were bought by the West Coast Times".

Whether or not Scholefield's assessment of the Westland Register is a fair one cannot be argued.  His quotation, from what may have been either a prospectus or an editorial, suggests that he had access to copies of the paper; but it is not listed in any New Zealand reference library. It would hardly seem to have been a flourishing journal, unless perhaps it was a rival that the West Coast Times was glad to suppress when the opportunity presented itself, following the death of W.H.S. on 21st March


Grandfather Sheppard was said to have died of "brain fever" following a drinking bout.  Granny said that he had been drinking heavily in Ballarat, but reformed when he first went to Hokitika.  The death of his much loved eldest son brought about a relapse; he was "drinking again" when the rest of the family joined him.  Moreover, it seems that spirits (he drank brandy) did not agree with him.  He was told by his doctor that he suffered from having "a brain too large for the cranium", and that excessive consumption of alcohol would result in swelling of the tissues, followed by brain fever and inevitable death.

William Horder Sheppard

William Horder Sheppard

Perhaps Granny condensed some of the medical data to produce this curious diagnosis.   Certainly, however, something of the sort does occur in the final stages of D.T.s.; from which W.H.S. finally perished, raving.

The Lyttelton Times said:-

"Referring to the death of Mr Sheppard, the editor and part proprietor of the Westland Register, the? Greymouth Evening Star says:-  Mr Sheppard was a clear and powerful writer, one of those men who said exactly what he meant, and said it so plainly that there was no mistaking his meaning.  Mr Sheppard was in the prime of life, being about forty years of age.  Like many other journalists he had many opponents during his brief literary career but we may safely assert that there is but few among them that would not willingly

"Give the lands of Deloraine If Dark Musgrave were alive again"

The impression is left of a gifted and enterprising man with a notable lack of both judgement and self—control.  There is more than a little bitterness in the epitaph Elizabeth chose for his gravestone, the last stanza from Grey's Elegy, her answer perhaps to the Star's quotation from Scott.   (See footnote). The Star has unset Scott's scansion with a gratuitous "if".  The piece is from "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", the complete stanza (XXIV of Canto Fifth) running:-

“Now Richard Musgrave liest thou here!

I ween, my deadly enemy:

For, if I slew thy brother dear,

Thou slew'st a sister's son to me;

And when I lay in dungeon dark

Of Haworth Castle, long months three,

Till ransom'd for a thousand mark,

Dark Musgrave, it was 'long of thee.

And, Musgrave, could our fight be tried,

And thou wert now alive, as I,

No mortal man should us divide,

Till one, or both of us, did die:

Yet, rest thee God! for well I know

I ne'er shall find a nobler foe.

In all the northern counties here,

Whose word is Snaffle, spur, and spear,

Thou wert the best to follow gear!

'Twas pleasure, as we look'd behind,

To see how thou the chase could'st wind,

Cheer the dark blood-hound on his way,

And with the bugle rouse the fray!

I'd give the lands of Deloraine,

Dark Musgrave were alive again''

Thus William of Deloraine after the death of his enemy Musgrave, vanquished in single combat with Cranstoun of Teviot-side in the course of a Border feud which Sir Walter Scott imagined to have taken place in the late 16th century.   (See Scott's introduction to the edition of 1830)

From a copper-plate transcript among her papers, it seems she would have liked the entire "Epitaph" from Grey's poem but contented herself with -  

"No farther seek his merits to disclose

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,

(There they alike in trembling hope repose)

The bosom of his Father and his God".

The headstone of Grandfather's grave, which I located in Hokitika cemetary in 1962, also bears the following inscription:-

"Sacred to the Memory


WILLIAM HORDER SHEPPARD Native of Fordingbridge England

Died 21 March 1874

Aged 43 years

Leaving a wife and three children

To mourn their sad loss"

The mistake in his age is curious.  Did Granny not know it?   He was, in fact, 44 years and some 2 months. Perhaps she could not afford to have the error corrected, for "reduced circumstances" would be a wholly inadequate description of her plight.  She was almost literally penniless when William died. Friends arranged a benefit concert, which yielded some £69 (perhaps $1000 by today's standards), and with this she was able to start a boarding house.  Presumably the shop in tiny Revel Street, which Grandfather had illuminated with the gas to which Willy's letter refers (a petroleum derivative of some sort) had been sacrificed in his attempts to keep the Westland Register afloat.

The rest of Granny's long life, how she brought up her three sons with the assistance of her second husband, the irresponsible and irrepressible Mr Hughes, is a story in itself, and one which is closely interwoven with that of my father, who supported his mother from his eighteenth year until her death nearly 40 years later.

To return to William Horder Sheppard, he was a small dark man -5"-6" in height with black hair and "black" eyes which "looked right through you", dark Musgrave.   A portrait photograph which I remember showed him at about 40 with a high broad forehead, strongly marked eyebrows, and a full Ned Kelly beard masking his lower face.  He was evidently agile and physically adventurous, with “ä head for heights” and must have taken  some pride in  these attributes; for among the meagre

data about his early life he told of his exploit in climbing the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. The story goes that his family, along with  all the town, came out to watch the madman risking his life, quite unaware that it was William.

This intriguing tale is too specific not to have some basis of fact, and yet I 'have found it difficult to accept that a local lad of 20 or less, without special training or equipment, could by himself scale the tallest spire in England.  Indeed, standing in the Cathedral Close and seeing its slim pinnacle reaching 404 ft into the sky, it would be easy to dismiss the feat as impossible.  However, although barely visible from the ground, the ridges running up the octagonal spire are emphasised by continuous projecting mouldings decorated with "ball-flowers", a form of ornament which consists of a globular three-petalled flower enclosing a small ball.  There must be some usable hand and footholds to have enabled Gino Watkins the young English explorer to make the same attempt in June 1926.  Watkins, who was then only 19, and was to drown six years later in a Greenland fjord, was a daring wall climber at Cambridge.  His biographer J.M. Scott reports him as saying "I started climbing the spire in my gym shoes, and was going quite well when it started to rain and the stones became impossibly slippery.  I had quite a job getting down."   Presumably, he did not reach the top; but he was addicted to under-statement:  the climb was done at night!

When visiting Salisbury in 1973, it occurred to me that the Cathedral Chapter might have some records of these exploits.  I did not get to see the Minutes, but the secretary to the Clerk of the Chapter, a lady who had held that position for more than 20 years, assured me that she was thoroughly familiar-with all the records, and had never heard of an attempt to climb the spire, or at any rate not for devilment.  So much for Gino Watkins and for bold William Sheppard!

However, the lady did suggest consulting the columns of the "Salisbury and Winchester Journal", which now, as then, appears every Saturday.  As William Sheppard emigrated to Australia in 1850, I thought it most likely that he would have pulled off such a stunt in the high spirits that might have preceded this greater adventure.  I therefore looked through every item of local news for 1850,and was recorded with the following:-

"17th August 1850

A SCAFFOLDING has been erected at the summit of the Cathedral spire, and workmen are engaged in fixing an efficient lightning conductor, as the result of a careful examination at the time of the visit of the Archaeological Institute to this city has shown that the old one was very much impaired, and the safety of the sacred edifice consequently imperilled".

Here, perhaps, is the answer.  It was still no doubt a considerable feat for anyone but a steeplejack to climb the spire.  The scaffold would have been limited to the extreme top, and could have been reached only by a dizzying series of temporary ladders clipped to the near vertical stonework, sufficient cause for folk to stand and stare.  I presume that the gentleman of the Archaelogical Institute discovered the lamentable condition of the lightning conductor with the aid of a telescope.

The pages of the Journal of 1850 are much taken up with the political issues of the day, while local news is dominated by the affairs of the Cathedral.   (Surprisingly, the growing power of the Roman Church is still a burning issue.)  But in nearly every edition appear notices and articles concerning emigration to Australia and New Zealand.  Typically:-

Saturday November 30 1850

PANORAMA OF AUSTRALIA  Intending emigrants and others feeling an interest in our Australian Colonies will have an opportunity of becoming familiar with their scenery through the medium of a Panorama which is announced for exhibition at the Assembly Rooms, on Tuesday and Wednesday next.

At least one editorial urged most persuasively that the poor, and others with limited prospects, should make new homes in the colonies; and it is a matter of record that large numbers from this part of England did so about that time.  However, neither poverty nor lack of opportunity could have been the deciding factor in William's case. My recent researches confirm the family tradition that his folk were comparatively well-to-do; while he himself claimed to have been a most promising medical student.  It is said that he assisted in the practice of an obstetrician while pursuing studies at Guy's Hospital, and that he sat the examination in this subject, for which he was awarded a gold medal, he had already personally delivered over a hundred babies.  Assuming the examination to have been held in the summer of 1850, he would have been twenty and a half years old.

Why he left England remains a mystery.  There was talk of a quarrel with his father; but this seems a rather frivolous reason. That there was some breach is suggested by the absence of mementoes of his past, and of correspondence with his family; although it is equally possible that such souvenirs were lost in the transfer to New Zealand, or at the time of his death.  Two such letters remain, showing that all contact was not lost during Grandfather's lifetime; although, significantly, one from his mother was to Willy, and the other was written to Elizabeth by her brother-in-law George Alexander, after William's death.

This is Great-Grandmother Sheppard's letter, written in September 1866:-

"My dear little Grandson  I was so very pleasd to receive a letter from you this morning and now shall depend on its never being very long from one time to another that I shall hear from you Because if your Father has not time to writ you can always tel me how you all are and how you and your Brothers get on with your schooling and if baby grows which is what I shall always be glad to hear about I am going to inclose a hymn which your Father used to sing when he was about your age which I see is eight years the nineth of last month it is 567 Guide me o though great Jehovah I should like you to learn it

I have just read your letter to your aunt Howell your Father will tel you who I mean and she was very pleasd she got a letter by the same mail with two notes inclosd from two little nephews about your own age from Western. Australia. I should like you to writ to your uncle Georg Alexander the next time because he would be so pleasd to receive a letter from his nephew and now my dear Willey I must close I suppose you must get your Father to read it to you for I am old and cannot see to writ well your Father has promised to send me your portraits before long I shall be so glad to see them altho I would rather see you so as to Be able to talk to you but I am afraid I shall not live to do that but I hope if not we shall all meet your dear Grandpa in heaven whenc we shall never part no more pleas give my very kind love to your Mother and Brothers and accept the same yourself from your affectionate


My dear Willey as I find my letter will not be too heavey to send the whole sheet I thought I must tel you that if your dear little Babey brother lives he is one year old on the Eleventh of the same month your Grandma will if spared be sixty five years old your uncle George 24 years on the same day and your uncle by the same name as your Baby if he had lived would be 22 on the nineth of the same month and I think I had a little girl or two whose birth day would be in July so you see we have lots of Birth days in that month
once more

Good Bye my darling Boy"

"Baby" was, of course, my father Frederick John Sheppard, born 6/7/1866, - from which the other birthdays may be calculated. The letter from Willy's uncle George Alexander, he who was 24 on the llth July 1867, may well explain William's apparent antipathy for his family.

Sep'r3/74 35 High St

Salisbury Wilts  England

Dear Elizabeth

It was very sad news to me, my Brothers death more so it seemed not hearing from him or any of you for so very long time previous.  My Mother felt it very deeply.  Her affliction was long and painful.  I have no doubt of her now being in heaven.  What was Williams mind respecting spiritual things.  Do you think his hope & trust was in The Saviour.  If so He is enjoying the happiness of Heaven.

I did not know of his giving up the Drug Trade & what he was doing, & am ignorant what James is doing. My address is at the beginning of this letter.  I shall be glad to hear from you very soon& to have my Brothers portrait, yours & the children.  The advertisement you speak of related to a little money left us about 30£ by an Aunt the particulars you will know of your solicitors.  Have enclosed a Note to him from the person who has the management for my Aunt.  I have at last secured what you asked me to get hoping it will be satisfactory.  Must now say goodbye for the present wishing you well With kind love to self & Children

Your aff'e


G A Sheppard

Against this pious, not to say sanctimonious, background it is interesting to note that William always claimed to be an atheist.

Even the £30 of which G.A.S. wrote must have been very welcome; for she did not marry again until 21st December 1876; although her expectations may have been greater after she had read the following advertisement, which appeared in the Melbourne Argus.

WILLIAM SHEPPARD, chemist, and JAMES SHEPPARD, draper (brothers), formerly of Tisbury, Wilts, England, who left England for Melbourne about 20 years ago, will hear of something to their advantage by  communicating with  Mr John Howell, Donhead, St. Andrew, Salisbury, Wilts; or to  Mr. William Snook, Perth, W.A.

It would seem that Elizabeth, who must have received the cutting (which I now have) from friends in Australia, arranged for a local solicitor to write to Mr Snook on her behalf.  Possibly she was unaware that Snook was a relative by marriage.  In due course Mr Snook replied. The addressee of the following letter is unknown, but was very likely the "S.M. South Esq'e" via whom the money was eventually sent.

Perth May 21st,74 Dear Sir,

Many thanks to you for the full account I received from you by the last mail of my unfortunate cousin, W.H. Sheppard.  Please convey my sympathy and condolence to his Widow & family.

You will now wish to know the reason for my enquiry in the Melbourne "Argus" it is that an Aunt of ours, (a few months since) died and left a small amount of cash to her surviving relatives, consequently a small amount comes to the late Mr W.H. Sheppard.  I have written to England by this months mail advising that what may be due to the late Mr Sheppard should be forwarded to you for the benefit of Mr Sheppard's family, and you having referred me to Mr Fraser Esq. our Surveyor General, a gentleman I have known since his arrival in this Colony, I have spoken to him and am satisfied that whatever is intrusted to you in this matter will be in good hands.  Again Sir thanking you for your kindness

I am

Yours very truly

W. Snook


To Elizabeth he wrote:-

Perth W.A. Nov 4th 1874,

My Dear Mrs Sheppard

I am truly sorry an answer to your letter has not been made before.  I now enclose you my letter from England which caused me to insert the advertisement in the Melbourne Argus.

I also enclose you your envelope so that you can see your letter to me was missent.

Please accept my condolence in the loss you have sustained.  You must know I have not seen your husband, and my cousin, since he left England and went into business with Poynton at Geelong.  Shall be happy to receive a line from you at any time.

Mrs Snook joins with me in kind love to you, as my cousins wife.

W. Snook

At last Aunt Keziah's legacy came to hand via Mr South and John Howell of Donhead, St. Andrew, perhaps the husband of Willy’s Aunt Howell, to whom his grandmother referred.

Donhead St Andrew



13 Mar, 1875


Your letter containing copy of Letters of
Administration by Mrs Sheppard, and Receipt for her
late husbands share of the residuary estate of the
late Keziah Sheppard came duly to hand on the 8th
inst. and I herewith enclose a Bill of Exchange on the
Bank of New Zealand for Thirty-two pounds, this being
the Net Amount due to her after deducting the following
One Moiety of expenses for advertising in the
Melbourne Argus for Mr W'm Sheppard and his
brother Mr James Sheppard                     1..19..0

Expenses incurred by Myself         1.. 1..6

3.. 0..6

I am Sir

Yours very respectfully John Howell

To S.M. South Esq'e Solicitor

Aunt Keziah is reputed to have been a lady farmer of great stature and strength.  My father told how she shod her own horses, bringing them into the stone-flagged kitchen to do so.  I understand she was unmarried; but I could find no baptismal record of a Keziah Sheppard.  However, it would not be too difficult to trace her through Somerset House, where her death would be recorded.

These are almost all the documents linking the New Zealand Sheppards to their English forbears, except for one key piece of paper, which is probably the item that George Alexander had "at last secured" for William's widow, the record of his baptism.

William Horder, son of James Sheppard of Fordingbridge, and Mary Ann his wife, was born January llth 1830 and Baptised October 17th of the same year by me A. Good.

The above is a true copy of the Register of Baptisms of the Independent Church, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England, as extracted this 17th day of August 1874 by me William Reynolds, Minister

The extent of my father's knowledge of his family is recorded in the following draft of a letter to my sister Betty, which I found among his papers.  It was written some time between 1932 and 1936.

 In regard to your proposal to look up some of the records of my family, dear, I think it a splendid idea because one would like to feel that our forbears were not all of the type I so fondly claim as a grandfather much removed (e.g. the famous Jack.)

I have looked up some of the old letters and am afraid there is not much to go on.  They are as follows:-

Father, William Horder Sheppard was born in the year 1830 at Fordingbridge, as you know.  His father was a cooper by trade, whether in a large or small way I do not know.  The family afterwards removed to Salisbury and I presume he continued to follow his trade, and he also was a local preacher.

After giving the details of Grandfather's baptismal record, he goes on:-

He was evidently named after a William Horder of Donhead St Mary who died April 19, 1864 aged 84 years and who would be his uncle.

There follow further extracts from the letters I have reproduced above, and then:-

I also have a letter to Mother from George Alex. Sheppard of 35 High St Salisbury dated February 3rd 1874.* He was my uncle and a grocer etc.  He must have remained in business some years after this date and I was told by the late Mr Meatyard that Liptons bought him out.

I also had a letter from Messrs Price the candle people who made some enquiries for me which gave the names of a number of Sheppards who had lived in Salisbury for a great many years, but I have been unable to find it so far.

Apart from the statements concerning his grandfather's and uncle's trades, there is little new here.  Several items appear to have been gleaned from the few surviving papers rather than from tradition;  and it is difficult to know what weight to give them.  For instance, all the documentary evidence points to William Horder's having been the grandfather of W.H.S., not his uncle.  From her letter to my uncle Willy, one can calculate that Mary Ann Horder was born on llth July 1802, whereas the William Horder who died (the black-edged card reads:-

* This is an error. The month was September.

In affectionate remembrance of the late WILLIAM HORDER of Donhead St, Mary, who died April 19, 1864, aged 84 years.

"Behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace",) must have been born in the twelve-months ended 20/4/1780, i.e. somewhat more than 22 years before.  How much more likely that he was Mary Ann's father than her brother, especially as my researches show that he had several older brothers.

These papers came into my possession on my return to Palmerston North in November 1945, my father having died in 1942 while I was overseas. My first attempt to investigate our genealogy was a failure.  I visited Fordingbridge in May 1958, but in the absence of the minister was unable to examine the records of the Independent (i.e. Congregational) Church. In 1973 I had better luck.

On 3rd October I called on the Rev. C. Attridge, The Manse, Salisbury Street, Fordingbridge.  He very kindly allowed me to go through all the original records belonging to what is now the United Reformed Church of Fordingbridge, situated next door.  There I found the original record of Grandfather's birth and baptism, and a good deal more.

According to a local historian A.T. Morley Hewitt the chapel in Salisbury Street was established in 1697, but re-built in 1832.  However, a manuscript entitled "RECORDS (from August 1880) - The Congregational Church Assembling at Fordinbridge" commences with the following:-


The earliest record of the church at Fordingbridge is to be found in "a short account of an ancient nonconformist church once existing at Porton near Salisbury".  It is stated therein by the author, Mr John Toone that in the year 1656 they sent ministerial aid to the church at Fordingbridge, once every month.

In the year 1668 it is probable that the Rev. Robert Whitaker commenced his ministry at Fordingbridge.  The land of the meeting house was bought August 7th 1695, and the meeting house itself was built the same year.  The Rev. Robert Whitaker died in 1718, after having been minister of the church for nearly 50 years (For details, documents etc. see previous Church Book).

Unfortunately, the "previous Church Book" could not be found; but the one then current, which commences with a record of "The Agreement entered into by the Congregation of Dissenters at Fordingbridge July 26th 1795" goes back far enough to include all likely records of the Sheppard family.  For they appear to have joined the congregation in 1823.  The book records:-

1823   Joseph and Wm. Sheppard and Martha Jan'y  Musselbrook admitted members

May 18 W. Sheppard suspended. Agreed -

That if any member shall continue suspended for twelve months, this shall be considered as a virtual exclusion, unless the Church previous to the expiration of the twelve months shall be induced from some favourable circumstances to prolong the suspension.

Apparently William must have provided evidence of "favourable circumstances" since his suspension continued for 16 months.

1824   Wm. Sheppard of Stuckton admitted as a member Sep'r 5

Then, on Lord's Day November 11, 1827 "the Rev. Mr Good being invited commenced his ministerial office" and a new covenant was drawn up and signed by 93 members of the congregation including:-

William Sheppard James Sheppard Joseph Sheppard Mary Ann Sheppard

and also ,it is interesting to note,

Henry Horder

Another book records not only the birth and baptism of William Horder Sheppard, but also those of his brother and sisters

Harriett Ann - born                  21.7.1831

James          "                     8.3.1833

Mary Ann       "                     17.1.1835

Perhaps Harriett was one of those "little girls" who was born in July, but whom their mother could not quite remember when she wrote to my uncle Willy 35 years later.  I could find no record of the births of George Alexander or Frederick, which by her account took place on 11.7.1843

and 9.7.1845. (Mary Ann was thus 27 years 6 months old when William

Horder Sheppard was born and almost 43 when Frederick made his brief appearance).

A careful record of quarterly subscriptions to church funds contains numerous entries which show William Sheppard to have been the most substantial contributor for many years.  In 1831 he was giving 20/- a quarter, and this was stepped up to 30/- by 1839.  But in 1844 he died. The Register of Burials in the New Burial Ground has only three entries, the last of which reads:-

William Sheppard, Millwright, Stuckton            1844

Fordingbridge,      Dec 30th

In the 59th year of his age

From 1845 it is "Mrs Sheppard", elsewhere referred to as Maria, who contributes a reduced, but still substantial, subscription of 20/-a quarter.  Indeed, by 1850 she is back to 30/-, although money is generally scarcer.  The total for 1831-32  from 52 subscribers was £82. 8. 6; but by 1862 62 subscribers gave only £45.-2. 1.  In 1854 Maria was still handing over 30/- every quarter.  Then comes a gap in the record where several pages have been torn out.  In 1856 there is no Mrs Sheppard, but Mr Sheppard has appeared, contributing somewhat erratically £5. 10. 0 for the year.  This is presumably Mr G. or Mr Geo. Sheppard who first gave an isolated 5/- in June 1837, and whom I take to be the son of William and Maria, later discovered to have been baptised in the parish church of St Mary's Fordingbridge on the same thirteenth day of June 1825 as his sister Lucy, an odd occurrence in view of William's "conversion" in 1823.  George's contributions continue sporadically until 1860, by then reduced to a mere 10/-, His elder sister Emma (baptised at St Marys 16. 5. 1822) battled on until the end of 1865 with

a final subscription of 1/3;  and there the book ends.

Mr James Sheppard, always thus distinguished from his older, wealthier

and altogether more important brother William, plain Mr Sheppard, was the contributor of a quarterly 5/- from the beginning of the book in 1831 until September 1836, and thereafter appears no more.  It must have been at this point that he moved to Salisbury, as stated by my father.  Certainly,  there is no  further reference to  him or to Mary Ann, let  alone to  any of their children in the Chapel books.

I then turned to St Mary's Fordingbridge in the expectation that the Sheppards had been members of the parish prior to 1823.  Sure enough, there they were, generation after generation; but the brevity of many of the earlier entries introduces an element of conjecture.  I concentrated on baptisms and marriages in an attempt to trace the family backward in time.  Burial records were in any case far less numerous, an indication of the depopulation that was taking place.  By accident, the Rector,

Rev. John Bown, came across a more recent entry of some interest.  It

recorded the marriage on 20th December 1860 of George Sheppard, widower,

engineer of Fordingbridge, son of William Sheppard, engineer, to Ellen Major, spinster also of Fordingbridge, daughter of John Major, farmer." Here is the reason for the cessation of subscriptions to the Chapel; and here also is the first description of father and son as "engineers". The children of William and Maria are listed here too:-

Thomas        baptised      24.   6. 1807

Maria                          "     7.  4. 1809

William                        "     3.  9. 1810

Elizabeth                      "     4.12. 1811

James                          "     26. 4. 1816

Mary Ann                       "     3.  8. 1817

Sarah                          "     7.  2. 1819

John                           "     4.  2. 1820

James                          "     10. 4. 1821

Emma                           "     16. 5. 1822

George                          "     13. 6. 1825
Lucy                         "    13. 6. 1825

Louisa                       "     13. 7. 1827

What happened to the other sons I do not know.  The only one who could be represented in the Chapel subscription list is Thomas.  A quarterly rate of 5/- is entered against this name for 1838 - 39, but no payments were made; although a Mrs Thos. gave 2/- in 1850 and 5/- in 1851.

Our ancestor in the direct line, James Sheppard and the prolific William were sons of Thomas and Mary Sheppard of Stuckton.  The baptismal records read:-  1. 9.     1799 Thomas son of Thomas    and Mary S, Stucton

15. 3.           1794    James  "  "   "  "   "      "

1. 6.            1789    John   "  "   "  "   "   Bicton

15. 1.           1785    William "  "   " "   "   Bicton

21.11.           1780    Alexander" "   " "   "   Bickton

18.11.           1776    Thomas  " "   "  "   "     »

Mary was the second wife of Thomas Sheppard.  They were married by Special Licence on 13th February 1776, she being listed as Mary MacPherson,

spinster of Fordingbridge.  He had first married (with Special Banns) 11.10.1773 Jane Randell of Fordingbridge, by whom he had a daughter Sarah, baptised on 30th October 1774.  Jane was buried at St Marys on 14th November of the same year.  In both these latter entries Thomas Sheppard hails from East Mill.

There is no record of the baptism of Thomas Sheppard, but he was probably born between 28/12/1748 and 16/11/1752, when there is a gap in the register.  St Mary's records contain few Sheppards in the first half of the 18th century, and none before that.  The names and dates strongly suggest that all are descendants of Richard Shepperd, whose son Charles was baptised on 20th November 1717.  Another son, William, was baptised on 21st February 1719, and he is probably my great-great-great grandfather.

On 26th September 1742 William Sheppard (presumably the same) married Elizabeth Dyer; and on the 18th April 1743 Grace, the daughter of William Sheppard of Bicton, was baptised.  No further baptisms are recorded until after the 3-year gap, when we have William (1.4.1752) and Sarah (30.7.1754) children of "William Sheppard of Eastmill".  Since my great-great-grandfather Thomas Sheppard lived at East Mill I think it is reasonable to infer that William was his father.  The direct line would therefore be:-

Richard Sheppard

William Sheppard - (baptised 21.2.1719) Thomas Sheppard - (born about 1750) James Sheppard  - (baptised 15.3.1793) William Horder Sheppard-(born 11.1.1830) Frederick John Sheppard-(born 6.7.1866) Frederick James Sheppard-(born 10.8.1921)

Thus, five generations span more than 200 years.

The earlier records say nothing of the occupations of the Sheppards; but there appears to have been a certain affinity with mills.  William Sheppard of Stuckton was a millwright, his father Thomas lived at East Mills when he was first married, and later at Bicton, where there was a mill; while the earlier William also lived at both Bicton and East Mills.

On the subject of mills Morley Hewitt (The Story of Fordingbridge) says:-

"Throughout the Middle Ages Fordingbridge must have been an important centre and the four mills on the river would in themselves have created a definite trade.  Domesday Book records two mills as working.  One was situated at Burgate (Borgate) and had a rental value of 10/- and one thousand eels.  The site of this mill is still called the Locks and I therefore assume that it was near the present weir.  It was pulled down in 1815, the last tenant being Josiah Jerrard.  I have been unable to ascertain the date of the final demolition, but it was probably at the time of a dispute between the owners of various riparian rights; there was a lawsuit and a settlement concluded as to when and for how long the hatches could be lifted.  Bicton Mill (Byketon), the second one mentioned in Domesday, had a rental of 7/-.  It was in use as a corn mill until after World War II.  At the present time part of the structure is a residence, and the old waterwheel housing now holds a modern hydro-electric turbine the supply from which is added to the National Grid.  East Mill must be of very ancient foundation as there is a manor of East Mill.  Undoubtedly starting as a grist-mill and so continuing for centuries, it was later converted for the manufacture of flax and sail-cloth."

"On 23rd November 1830, East Mill was the scene of one of the riots of the early Industrial Age.  The introduction of machinery caused many workers to consider that their livelihood was at stake. The leader of this riot, by name Hunt or Cooper, led 400 men.  They destroyed machinery and plant at East Mill to the value of £3,000, and so threw 100 men out of work.  Cooper was called 'Captain1, and his lieutenant, one Eldridge, on being caught was sentenced to death at Winchester Assizes.  The riot was originally against the introduction of threshing machines, some of the earliest which were made at the Iron Foundry at Stuckton.  After doing what damage they could in Fordingbridge, they marched on West Park, Damerham, on the 24th November, 1830; here they were repulsed and the ringleaders caught. Apart from Cooper and Eldridge, who were executed, six others were transported for life.

At the General Quarter Sessions held at Winchester on third of January 1832, a writ was issued against the men of the Hundred of Fordingbridge to recover for the Sheriff the sum of £1,000 which he had paid out of the public funds to Samuel Thompson (of East Mill) for damages to machinery incurred in the riots of 1830.

East Mill was re-opened, but in the 1850»s it was destroyed by fire, was re-built, and until 1905 was used by Messrs Thompson and Co. for the manufacture of sail-cloth, canvas and sacking, the later vicissitudes of this mill include for many years its use as motor works and agricultural machinery depot under the late Mr. Crowdy. On his moving into the town Major Napier established a weaving business in 1934 to make high class material.  This proved uneconomical, and the business was sold to the Dartington Hall Group which continued a somewhat similar trade until another fire destroyed part of the buildings in 1956.  It is understood that the Avon and Stour River Board have now located their stores and headquarters there."

At this stage in my investigations it occurred to me that it would be interesting to visit Stuckton, where my great-grandfather was born, and where there might be some associations with his millwright brother.  "The Works" marked on the 1 in 25,000 Ordnance Survey map of Fordingbridge seemed a

likely starting point.

I found the premises occupied by the Armfield Agricultural Engineering Co., with a sign still proclaiming "Stuckton Iron Works, Fordingbridge". The brick buildings and attached cottage were evidently at least 150 years old, and appeared to have changed little.  When I asked the manager, Mr


Wort, (there were Worts at St Marys all the way back to the 1640»s) if he knew of any Sheppards in the neighbourhood, he replied matter-of-factly, "Oh, I expect you mean the Sheppards that used to own this place".

In the event, Mr Wort knew little of the history of the Works, but referred me to an article in the June 1963 issue of "Hampshire, The County Magazine", from which I transcribed the following:-

"    Joseph John Armfield

Hamp   shire Quaker Ironmaster by D.A.E. Cross"

The Stuckton Iron Works, near Fordingbridge, has been in existence since about 1770 as an iron foundry and farm machinery works.  In 1870 it was being run by George Shepherd, son of Mrs Maria Shepherd who had inherited the family business about 1810.  At Stuckton a Cornish engine provided power for the works, forge and pattern shop.  It is said that the first portable steam engine,was built at Stuckton in the early 19th century.  Shepherd sold the Stuckton works bg J.J. Armfield in 1872, thus providing the Ringwood firm with a larger and well-equipped foundry.

The Stuckton foundry closed down in 1908, some years after the new foundry had been established at Ringwood.  The agricultural machinery side of the business, however, continued to be centred at Stuckton;  and in 1915, Mr George Wort became Armfield's manager there.  The old Cornish engine was finally dismantled in 1920, but the original chimney still remains as a memorial and a local landmark".

Well, the chimney blew down a few years ago; although the top 4 feet or so remained in one piece, which has been set up in the back garden as an incinerator for household rubbish.  Otherwise, I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of Mr Cross's article, except for the mis-spelling of our name.  However, Mr Wort then produced a letter from Dr.jT. Eldon Stowell of Southhampton, who on 7th July 1971 wrote:-

"Mr H.G. Wort Dear Sir,

You wrote to my father Mr T.E.A. Stowell on 24th November 1970, shortly after he died, and I have not previously had an opportunity to reply to your letter.

I understand that you are interested in the History of Stuckton Iron Works which formerly belonged to my great-great-grandfather William

Sheppard who built the Foundry in 1807 andran it until his death in 1844.  His widow continued to run the business until the middle of the following


My wife, who is a research historian, has done some work on the documentary history of the Mill, which was attacked by rioters during the Riots of 1830, and we also have family information,  I was especially interested in your purchase of the chaff-cutter bearing the name of Sheppard and Ingram of Fordingbridge, and the name Ingram might be pursued to establish possible partnership.  It might date after William Sheppard's death in 1844."

So Dr Stowell was my cousin, his great-great-grandfather being my great-grandfather's brother.

The letter goes on to discuss a possible visit; but Mr Wort confessed that he had never replied.   An interesting point was Eldon Stowell's reference to "the Mill".  Sure enough, the establishment had boasted a grist-mill as well as a foundry.  Mr Wort showed me Where the shaft from the Cornish engine had entered the mill-house.  Clearly, it was originally provided for this purpose, and not merely to drive machinery ancillary to the foundry, although no doubt it did this as well.  The mill stones have gone, but the "hirsts" (heavy posts providing lateral support to the driving gear) are still there, now serving as framing to racks in the workshop store.  The upper floors are similarly given over to the storage of spare parts and tools, including a collection of millwright's "pecks", the pick-like hammers with replaceable steel heads, used for dressing the grinding faces of the mill stones.

Of the foundry, which was located beside the mill, nothing remains except the base of the old brick chimney, and some steel rails on which the cupolas were once moved to the casting floor, now concreted over.

The chaff-cutter of which Stowell writes, is an ancient cast-iron, hand-operated machine, which Mr Wort found in the neighbourhood.  It is a good, even elegant, piece of work, and although rusty, still structurally sound.  It has a name-plate embossed with the legend:-


Following the visit to Stuckton I wrote to Dr Stowell: and in due course Rosemary (Fred’s wife) and I met him and his wife, Hilda.  It turned out that Eldon Stowell's great-grandmother was Lucy, the daughter of William Sheppard.  Through her he had inherited many papers and photographs of 19th century Sheppards, although as far as I recall nothing directly handed down from before William's time.  However, Hilda's researches into local history had turned up a good deal of supplementary information, and she had also re-constructed the family tree, well back into the 17th century on the Stowell side.

As far as the Sheppards are concerned, Mrs Stowell had reached a dead end, as I had, with Richard Sheppard; but she said there was reason to believe that the family had moved to Fordingbridge from Lymington.  She thinks Court Rolls would provide evidence of land tenure, which would enable the threads to be picked up again.

Most of the Stowells’ interest has centred round William Sheppard of Stuckton; and there is no doubt he was an unusual and gifted man. We were shown a "Memorial" printed in 1850 by fellow churchmen, who wished to ensure that his merits, unlike those of his nephew,-were fully disclosed^ It was fulsomely eulogistic.  If William was half the man they said he was, he was certainly a most estimable character - sober, industrious, inventive, kind, generous, wise, and charitable: wealthy too (by village standards at any rate), and unswervingly devoted to his church. He had not paid particular attention to religion until after he was 40.  Becoming concerned about the state of his soul, he had difficulty in deciding on the relative merits of the Established Church and the Congregation of Dissenters.  He therefore attended divine service alternately at Church and Chapel for a considerable period, before finally pronouncing in favour of the latter.  He soon became a deacon, and a leading figure in the affairs of the congregation.

His most notable achievement was to engineer a reconciliation between two

factions within the congregation.  The Church Book recounts the affair in detail.

In consequence of a Part of the Church and congregation not approving of the Ministry of the Rev. Jos'h Woods, they

withdrew, and worshipped in a School Room in another part of the town.  This state of things continued until a short time after the resignation of Mr Woods, which took place on the 24th June 1838.

The following is a brief outline of the circumstances which led to the reunion of the two parties, into which the Church and Cong'n had been unhappily divided, which took place under the direction and superintendence of the Rev. Geo. Harris of Ringwood Aug. 12th 1838 transcribed from his own recorded testimony.

1838 July.  Mr Sheppard called upon me this morning to consult abt effecting a reunion of the two sections of the Independ't Church and Cong'n at Fordingbridge.  In the afternoon of the same day Mr Joyce and Mr Gray came to consult me upon the same subject and both parties requested me to take the matter into consideration, when, after some conversation it was arranged that I should visit Fordingbridge on the 27th.  It is singular that neither of the parties knew any thing of each others intention to visit me on this subject.  After several introductory meetings had taken place betwixt the two parties and myself it was agreed upon that a general meeting of the whole Church and Cong'n should take place Aug^t 12th '38.

At a meeting of Christian friends assembled in the Indep't Chapel Fording'e Aug't 12 1838 according to public notice, to adopt measures best suited to unite in closer fellowship professing Christians of the Independent Demonimination in this town and neighbourhood, the Rev. Geo. Harris in the Chair, it was:-

1   Resolved

That this meeting is deeply sensible that the union of professing Christians of Indep't denomination in this town and neigh'd into one Church and Cong'n would be by a Divine blessing eminently conducive to individual comfort and prosperity to the advancement of real religion and the honer of God.

2   Resolved

That in order to effect this desirable object without further delay, it is agreed,

First That the Rules etc adopted at a Church meeting Nov 30th 1836 cease to be in force at this time.

Second  That the Resignation of Mr John Keay and Mr Wm. Sheppard as Deacons be accepted.

Third  That the following persons constitute at present the members of the Church with power to receive additions in the usual way.  The names were then read and approved (See the Lists).

Fourth  That Mr Joyce, Mr Sheppard, Mr Keay and Mr Gray be requested to superintend the affairs of the Church and Cong'n for one year to commence from the present time.

denomination in this town and vicinity, not present at this meeting be informed of the Union now effected and respectfully and affectionately invited to afford their support to this religious interest by their attendance on the public services at the Chapel, and by their pecuniary support.

4.   Resolved

That Mr Keay and Mr Gray be requested to solicit donations towards liquidating the debt of £28 incurred by the support of this religious interest.

5.   Resolved

That this meeting desires devoutly to acknowledge the goodness of the Great Head of the Church in affording this opport'y to recognize and adopt the important principle of Christian Union and earnestly implores his blessing on the proceedings of the day.

The above resolutions having been passed Unanimously, the Meeting was closed by singing and Prayer.

It is interesting to note that the person who invited the Rev. Jos'h Woods to lead the flock was none other than William Sheppard.  This occurred in 1836 following the resignation of the Rev. A. Good in December 1835. In February 1836 both James and William are listed as deacons; and James was among those who attended a meeting on the 5th, when William was requested to act in the matter of securing a new minister.  But written emphatically against his name is the word "LEFT".  This must mark his and Mary Ann's departure to Salisbury.  It is tempting to speculate that the split over Mr Woods may have started between the two brothers.  Certainly, James and his family vanish from the record with suspicious abruptness, and without any valedictory remarks, after that final subscription of 5/- in September 1836.

As well as owning a mill and a foundry William had fairly substantial land holdings around Stuckton.  The Stowells have a copy of an assessment for Land Tax in the district, William Sheppard being one of the two assessors. He recorded his own liability as 2/2!  Hilda Stowell had also unearthed local tithe assessments which showed him as the owner or occupier of about a dozen parcels of land.  She had also come across a quotation for the fabrication and installation of a bone-mill for Lord Shaftesbury, written in William’s hand. The price was to be £although there was no indication whether it was accepted, or the mill built.

Another of Hilda Stowell's finds was a will executed by an earlier William Sheppard in 1764.  She seemed quite definite that the testator was a member of our family, but I am not sure why.  If he was my great-great-great-grandfather he was only about 45, depending on his age at baptism.  In any case I have assumed that the William Sheppard who was baptised at St Marys in 1719 was the same William Shephard who married Elizabeth Dyer on 26th September 1742, whereas the will refers to Mary. Lacking other evidence, the most likely explanation is that the will was made by an uncle, or even the grandfather of that William Sheppard.  It reads:-

The last Will and Testament of William Shepherd of Bicton in the County of Southampton, Husbandman, Touching the setling of such Worldy goods and effects as it hath pleased God to bless me with, First I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Mary and to my Grandson Joseph Shepherd all and singular my Goods Chattels and Effects of every kind and whatsoever I have any ways belonging to me to be equally devided betwixt them by a just inventory and appraisement.  Also I will that the Survivor of the above named my wife Mary and Joseph Shepherd Shall have all the part remaining to them of my effects at the decease of either of the said parties, provided that the said Joseph my Grandson should die unmarried but if he the said Joseph should be married he shall dispose of what he is possessed of at his own discretion.  Also I will that my wife Mary may have the sole disposing of A Bed and all appurtenances thereunto belonging now in possession of her father William Newman of Stuckton any thing before mentioned notwithstanding.  Also I will that when tis pleased God to take me out of this life the above named my wife Mary and Jos'h Shepherd shall see my debts paid and my Body decently bury'd as joint executors of this my last will and Testament, each contributing thereto an equal part Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of

(                              Geo. Townsend

.                              John Burge (?)

(                           John Vale (?)

The 1st Day of January 1764

William Sheperd

(possibly Shepherd, a very shaky signature F.J.S.)      

The Stowells did not know of any other contemporary Sheppards or their relatives.  Their impression was that they were the only descendants of William Sheppard, although they wondered about a James Sheppard, whose


photograph showed a man of 60 or so, and who was rumoured to have gone to Australia.  Could this have been the James mentioned in the Melbourne Argus, the brother of William Horder Sheppard, born 8.3. 1833?  I fancy the photograph was older, and was more likely to have represented that James who was baptised 15.4, 1794, and was more closely related to the Stowells.

The only other members of pious William's large family of whom anything is known were the younger daughters Emma and Louisa. They became school-teachers.  Whites Directory of Hampshire - 1878 contains the following entry under "Fareham", a small coastal town between Southampton and Portsmouth.

"SHEPPARD Misses Emma and Louisa, Boarding school, 27 West St" They had inherited a fair amount of money (an indication perhaps that there were few other surviving children), but lost it in the Balfour scandal towards the end of the century.  The school had to be closed, and Louisa, now over 60, managed to find a husband.  Her photograph shows a rather formidable lady, without obvious attractions or Sheppard look's.

As far as I know the Stowells had not unravelled the lineage of any of Thomas Sheppard's 5 sons except William's.  (I assume the first­born Thomas died before the younger Thomas was born 23 years later).  If they produced families there must be many more Sheppard relations, and of course there were the brother and sisters of William Horder Sheppard. I feel a certain antipathy for George Alexander after that letter he wrote to Granny; but clearly he survived, and if Mr Meatyard’s information was correct, it should not be too difficult to trace his descendants.

There for the time being I shall leave the Sheppards, and turn to a family that should be much easier to trace, the Horders.

The logical, indeed the only, starting point was William Horder's funeral card.  That he was William Horder Sheppard's grandfather was as yet not certain; but family relationships should be relatively easy to unravel with such an uncommon name.  There are only 15 Horders listed in the London Telephone Directory to-day, against many pages of Sheppards. Oddly enough there is a family of Horders in Auckland, one of whom is known to my son-in-law Christopher Reid.  I hope to meet him before long*

The Donheads, as they are signposted on the main road from Salisbury to Shaftesbury, are two villages which straggle into each other in a cosy little valley running down to the Vale of Wardour.  Both D. St Andrew and D. St Mary possess small mediaeval churches in good repair, and still in use.  I thought it worthwhile to check the records at both.  At D. St Andrew the Rev. Godfrey was helpful, and the parish books in good condition; but there were no Horders, or at any rate none were listed over a considerable period around the end of the 18th century.

I then applied to the Rev. John Cox, Rector of Donhead St Mary; only to find that all -records before 1870 had been depositeds at the Wiltshire Records Office at Trowbridge.  I decided to use what remained of that day (13.11.73) in local inquiries.

It occurred to me that there was something of non-conformist righteousness about that "Behold the upright for the end of that man is peace";  and if the daughter of pious William Horder married a prominent Dissenter and lay-preacher in that persuasion, it was odds-on that the Horders were Dissenters too.  I asked Mr Cox if there was a local Congregational church.  He said there had been, at a village called Birdbush about three miles away, but that the chapel was now derelict.  The Birdbush congregation was now affiliated to the Reformed Church of Shaftesbury.  The minister was a Mr Chubb.

Shaftesbury is a long, strung-out, little town on the side of a great

"down".  I should like to see it by daylight.  In the dark, I found it confusing; so that it was after 8 p.m. when I finally arrived at the Manse. Mr Chubb was about to chair a Church Meeting.  He was also a new-comer.

having arrived from Bristol only 8 weeks before; so he knew nothing of the Horders, and very little about the Birdbush congregation.  He said there was an old book upstairs that I was welcome to look at, while he returned to his meeting.

This proved to be the Birdbush Church Book, dating back to 1799. Horders appeared almost from the first page.  The earliest recorded business took place in October 1799.

"At a general Meeting of the Trustees Members and Subscribers to this Church it was unanimously agreed that a Call, signed and forwarded to the Rev. Tho. Williams of Salisbury, to invite him to take upon him the Pastoral Charge of this Church ..............."

Later that month the Rev. Williams took up his duties; and 26 signed the covenant.  The list commences

Tho. Horder James Horder  x Wm. Horder    x

A footnote explains "The above names marked with this Character (x) are adopted as Deacons" (There was a third, James Kellaway.)

So there are the Horders, in strength.  This William can scarcely be "the Upright", who would have been only 19 or 20, altogether too young to be a deacon.  As I read on more and more Horders made their appearance.

"Mrs Sarah Horder proposed herself to be a Member of this Church, publicly related her experience, was approved of, and received into church communion on Wednesday November 30th 1803."


"Sylvia Horder joined the Church January 11, 1822." Likewise, James (7.12.28), John (1.8.30), James Gould and Martha (30.12.42).  And then I came on this:-


Mar 31

At a Church Meeting held on Friday Evening the case of James Horder, of Ludwell, was brought before the Church for conversation, He having on Wednesday Evening March 22 attended the preaching slightly affected with liquor. After conversation on the subject, the ultimate decision of the Meeting was that He abstain from communing with the Church at the Lord's Table on the following Lord's day -"

This deprivation did not achieve the desired result.  There were further lapses; and finally:-

"1849 Mar 2

Church Meeting.  Report received in Jas. Herder's case, and upon satisfactory evidence being furnished, which proved him to have been 3 times intoxicated during the last 3 months, he was excluded from the fellowship of the


I read on, hoping to find some entry which could definitely identify William the Upright; but 1864, the year of his death, passed without

mention.  Mary Horder was admitted to church fellowship (30.11.55), Charles (31.12.77).  In February 1878 the Book records:-

"Many of the Members being sick, the attendance was small. Mr Roberts having stated his entire satisfaction with Ellen Roberts' Christian character and the evidences of a work of Grace on her heart, she was unanimously admitted into fellowship, Prayer being offered to God on her behalf by brother John Horder."

Then in August 1879 comes the last reference to a Horder.

"Very few members present.  After prayer by Mr Kiddle the Pastor explained why no Church Meeting had been held since May, and expressing regret at the loss the Church had sustained by the death of Jno. Horder (Deacon) besought the loving sympathy of the members for the sister in her deep sorrow and solitude."

At this stage Mr Chubb's meeting ended, and he introduced me to one of the present deacons, former leader of the Birdbush Congregation (disbanded

since 1971), Mr Turberville.  Mr T. thought there were still some old

books in the abandoned vestry; and gave me a note for the custodian. The following day this lady, a Mrs Baggs, let me in and left me to browse at will.  I found the books in an old trunk, everything in a deplorable condition with damp and mildew, but the entries still legible.  The principal books were a Register of Births and Baptisms, and an Account Book dating from 1803.  The first entry in the Register was dated 26th September 1749, preceded by the statement:-

"The following registries of Births and Baptisms are extracted from the Register of Births and Baptisms of the Independent Chapel, Tisbury, Wilts."

I was never able to follow this up.  I think the "extracts" may have been made about 1800, Presumably the records for Birdbush before that date were kept at Tisbury, although the Birdbush chapel was founded in 1671. In any case, as with the Sheppards, it was soon apparent that the Horders were comparative newcomers to the dissenting interest.  The first to appear was William Horder, son of William and Sarah, who was born 5.9.1804 and baptised on the 30th of the same month.  There followed 19 more Horder babies, concluding with Elizabeth, daughter of William and Mary Anne, who was born 3.1.1841.  The unravelling of their relationships could not be attempted without further data.

The Account Book might have been expected to yield some items of interest;  and so it proved.  On 27th January 1803 contributions were accepted by the minister to a fund for building a manse.  The sum of £115.12. 6 was collected, James Horder contributing £20, William H. Sen'r £1, William H. Jun'r £1, and John Sheppard 10/6.  By the 1820's William Horder (Junior) was one of the two regular subscribers of an annual £6, James' last contribution having been made on 29th September 1806.  And then in 1828 William took over the finances, and kept the books himself. There follow page after page in his tidy hand, the receipts headed up

"In Account with Wm. Horder".  Here is William the Upright; for in

1864 appears the entry "William Horder’s Trustees - £7. 0. 0."

So it was established that William Horder whose death notice had been handed down to me, was the treasurer at Birdbush from 1828.  I anticipated that his baptism would be recorded in the books of St Marys, Donhead, now held at Trowbridge.  I went there at once, and applied to examine them at the Wiltshire Records Office.  Astonishingly, there were 41, not only registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, but also parish account books, and tithe surveys as well, the earliest dating from about 1630.  There were Horders by the dozen; but like the Sheppards at Fordingbridge they appeared to have come from elsewhere, the first entry that I could find being:-


Jan the 2 day Thomas Horder was buried in Woollen only according to the late Act entitled an Act for burying in Woollen as appears by an Affidavit taken before Mr Robt Frampton Rector of Donhead St Andrew,  Witnesses are Matthew Frampton and Katherine Frampton."

Apparently Donhead St Mary had no graveyard, or maybe it was full.  Whatever the reason, for a considerable period parishioners of D. St Mary were buried at D. St Andrew.

On November 22hd 1681 "A stillborn child of William Horder" was also buried there, and another on October 2nd 1687, while in between, some other William Horder was buried on November 2nd 1682.  On 8th March 1695 it was the turn of "Thomas, son of Robert Horder Jun. and X'ian his wife", followed by Mary Horder, as witnessed by William Horder her father, and then Martha, wife of Robert Horder Sen.

The births and deaths come thick and fast; but few entries give any definite indication of relationship, so that the construction of a family tree would be largely guesswork.  I have tabulated all the data I had time to collect, in chronological order to facilitate correlation with any further information that may come to light.  They are reproduced as an appendix.

My tentative interpretation of these data is as follows:-

William Horder the Upright was my great-great-grandfather, his daughter Mary Ann having married James Sheppard in the 1820s.  She was born in 1802, probably the eldest child of at least seven, (Mary Ann 1802, William 1804, Elizabeth 1807, Martha 1810, John 1811, Mary 1815 and Maria 1819) born to William and Sarah Horder.

Mary Ann's brother William married Elizabeth Ann Mabb in 1828; but she died childless.  His second wife, another Mary Ann, bore him two daughters Anne (1839) and Elizabeth (1841), after which they left the district.  My great grandmother's other brother John, who first joined this church in 1830, took his father's place as a pillar of the Birdbush congregation, and died in 1879 at the age of 68, 15 years after the death of old William.

At the same time that William and Sarah were producing a family, so were a younger William and his wife Sylvia (Selina 1813, Jas. Gould 1812, William 1818, Thomas 1820, Alfred 1822, and Samuel 1823).  James Gould and his wife Martha joined the Birdbush community in 1842, as his mother had done in 1830; but otherwise these Horders do not figure in the record.

There was also the bibulous James, who joined the church in 1828 and whose son John was born and baptised at Birdbush in the same year. James’ wife Mary joined the church in 1836.   (Or perhaps it was Mary the sister of Mary Ann; ' but I fancy not.  She would have been only 21; and the records suggest that it was mainly folk past their first youth who were formally admitted as members of the congregation.  It was certainly not a case of whole families joining en bloc, but a solemn dedication by individuals.  Even husbands and wives are seldom shown as such.  This indifference to family relationships makes the task of sorting them out that much more difficult).  It was this same Mary who died in 1851, making it more probable that she was James wife, shamed and saddened no doubt by his exclusion from the church, two years before.  The Mary who joined the church in 1855 could have been Mary Ann's sister, by now 40 years of age; or perhaps she was the wife of some other Horder.

Going back a generation, William the Upright was almost certainly the son of that William Horder who married Margaret Knight on 23rd November 1765.  Their union was blessed with Hannah 1766, Ann 1767, Jane 1770, Hannah (again) 1773, James 1776, William 1779, Sarah 1782, and Mary 1786.  Is this brother, James the drinker?  Quite possibly; but if my other assumptions are correct, he would have been 52 when his son John was born. I think it more likely that William's elder brother was the James who married Charlotte Norris in the parish church in 1806, and whose children were baptised at Birdbush.   (John 1808, Elizabeth 1810, and Eli 1813).

Is this James also he who was chosen as a deacon in 1799?  I think not. First of all he would have been not quite 23.  More important perhaps he was listed then ahead of William Senior, his father.  But I think the clincher is the fact that in 1803 James gave £20, and both the Williams only £1 each.  It is almost certain therefore, that the generous James and the deacon of 1799 were one and the same, and that he was my great-great­-grandfather's "rich uncle", brother of William Senior; while Thomas, whose name appears at the head of the 1799 list was most likely another brother, older but not so well-heeled.  He does not appear at all after this, and may be presumed to have died. If my re-construction is correct, these were all the sons of an earlier William Horder, and would have been quite elderly. In 1803 they would probably have been in their 70's.  (William Senior was still around in 1808; and if he was born during the period which I did not check  for baptisms, he would by then have been at  least  84, making him 62 when his youngest daughter Mary was born.  Stretching things, perhaps).

The most convenient assumption regarding Thomas the obscure, who heads the list of members in 1799, is that he is the same whose child Thomas (by Elizabeth) was baptised at St Marys in 1766, the same year that William (Senior) and Margaret had their first child.  I am inclined to think he is also the Thomas whose wife Mary had three children baptized between 1781 and 1786.  The dates certainly fulfill all the necessary conditions for this to be so: Elizabeth had 7 children over a period of 10 years; and then there is a gap of 5 years before Mary appears.  It will be seen that all 10 children were baptised at Donhead St Mary.  The first 6 children of William and Margaret were also baptized in the parish church; but Sarah (1782) and Mary (1786) appear in the Birdbush register.

It would seem that William became a dissenter in early middle age and that his elder brother Thomas followed, a pattern similar to that traced by the Sheppards 40 years later in nearby Fordingbridge.

My search of the earlier books was hasty and incomplete, so that I am unable to go back with confidence beyond William the Elder.  However, there were fewer Horders in Donhead St Mary before his day, so that he was almost certainly descended from them.  Allowing normal steps between the generations, one may suppose that this William was an elder child of the William Horder whose daughter Harriet was baptised in 1741.  He in turn is likely to have been the son, either of Robert Horder Junior, who had a son Thomas in 1695 and a daughter Christian in 1698, or of William, who appears to have buried stillborn children in 1681 and 1687, as well as his daughter Mary in 1697.  The dates favour Robert Horder Junior as my great-great-great-great-grandfather; while the chances are that both he and the unfortunate William were sons of Robert Horder Senior.  The latterwas still above ground in 1698, so it is possible that the Thomas Horder, buried at Donhead St Andrew in 1681(or William buried in 1682) was his father. This is mere speculation; but it yields the following table:-

Thomas (or William) Horder             -  Died 1681 (1682)

Robert Horder (Snr.)                   Living 1698

Robert Horder (Jnr.)                   Had child 1698

William Horder                         Had child 1741
William Horder         <         Married 1765

William Horder                         Born 1779 Died 1864

Mary Ann Horder                        Born 1802 Died c. 1870

William Horder Sheppard                Born 1830 Died 1873

Frederick John Sheppard                Born 1866 Died 1942

Frederick James Sheppard               Born 1921 -

I think it likely there was another generation between Robert Horder (Jnr.) and William; although the dates do not demand it.  The answer may possibly be found in the Wiltshire Records Office, where I failed to check the years 1700 to 1724 in Volume 980/1.

These records do not say much about the occupations of the Horders. They were of the yeoman class, or some of them were, no doubt with poorer relations getting by as artisans or agricultural labourers.  I did not come across any Horders, and few Sheppards, who were buried from the workhouse, although many of their fellow parishioners were.

Document 980/2 in the Wiltshire Records Office "Baptisms Etc. 1695-1702" includes all sorts of oddments, among them

"   The assessm't of D.... Marsh and George Rabbets assessors for the Tything of Charleton in the p'ish of Donhead St Mary Wilts for the year 1695.

Robert Horder jun        Yeoman
Martha Horder his wife"

In fact, this is clearly a mistake:  it was Robert Senior who at that time had a wife Martha.  This is not unusual.  From the variations in hand­writing one can see that parish clerks made the entries.  As one might expect, some were meticulous and some slovenly.  One, who entered up the Birdbush Register of Baptisms, quite evidently did not know birth dates in many cases, and got over the difficulty by filling in the last one over and over until a new one came up.  For instance John, Eli, and Selina Horder were baptised on 15.11.1812, 2.5.1813, and 13.7.1813, but all are shown as born on 19.9.1811! And there are numerous other examples in the same book


The Snooks too figure in the tything of 1695.  There are

George Snook                         Yeoman

Anne Snook                           his wife

Susan Snook                          Daughter

Rich'd Snook                         an Infant

Other interesting entries in the Donhead St Mary parish books are those relating to Godfrey Kneller, his two wives and numerous children. He was the illegitimate son of Sir Godfrey K.the painter, whose name he was given by act of Parliament in 1731, after he had married the heiress of Donhead Hall.  There is a tablet in the church recording the death of one of his guests, an hospitable gesture I thought.  St Marys is a particularly charming little church, much better maintained now than when I first saw it 15 years ago.  The round pillars which support the nave date from Norman times, and it is thought there was an earlier Saxon church on the site.

In the parish Survey of 1822 William Horder is listed as a fairly substantial land-owner and tenant.  In the tything he is shown as the "occupier" of 20 'different small-holdings with an aggregate area of 153 acres 0 roods 27 perches.  In a list of tenants he appears as the occupier of 6 larger pieces totalling 299 acres O roods 10 perches.  It was not clear to me whether any of the former were included in the latter, but I think not. The second list shows "Self" as owner of two of the six farms.  His occupation is given as "timber-merchant."  It seems likely that William the Upright inherited from rich uncle James.

It is interesting that the tythe assessment concludes with the statement:

"Inhabitants of Upper Donhead P'ish 725".

I doubt whether there are 100 Souls in the entire valley today, and not a single Horder.

F.J.S.   February 1974

Further information on other Sheppard family descendants can be found here