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Thomas Shepard

Thomas Shepard (November 5, 1605 August 25, 1649) was an American Puritan minister and a significant figure in early colonial New England. He entered Emmanuel College in Cambridge University at the age of fifteen. In 1627 he became assistant schoolmaster at Earls Colne Grammar School in Earls Colne, Essex. He left England for Massachusetts in colonial America in 1635. Shepard was regarded as one of the foremost Puritan ministers of his day, esteemed in the company of individuals like Richard Mather and John Cotton. He took special interest in Puritan ministry to the Massachusetts Native Americans. His written legacy includes an autobiography and numerous sermons, which in some measure of contrast with others of his day, tended to accent God as an accessible and welcoming figure in the individual life. Today a plaque at Harvard University, in the words of Cotton Mather, records that it was in consideration of the salutary effect of Shepard's ministry that the college ultimately came to be placed in "Newtowne", known today as Cambridge, Massachusetts. Three of Shepard's sons followed him into the ministry; Thomas Shepard II, Samuel Shepard, and Jeremiah Shepard. Thomas Shepard II was an ancestor of U.S. Presidents John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He died of a complication of tonsillitis in 1649 at the age of 44.


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