Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by J Mules.
The late THOMAS SHEPHERD was
“Simple, grave, sincere;
In doctrine uncorrupt, in language plain,
And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture; much impress’d,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.”
He was born at Clayton Heights, Yorkshire, in the year of our Lord 1795. We know nothing of his parents, and but little of his juvenile career. He was probably erratic in early life, as he entered the army, but remained only a limited, period therein. He quickly left the battle field, shocked at its “noise, confusion, and garments rolled in blood.” But he entered the service of the “King of kings;” became a valiant soldier, fought many battles, overthrew many enemies, won many trophies, decked the crown of his new King with many gems, and he has now triumphed over his “latest foe,” and enjoys placid tranquillity, uninterrupted security, and eternal repose. About fifty-three years ago he joined the Wesleyan Society, and in due time became a leader and local preacher in that community.
The Rev. G. Lamb says, “I have known Mr. T. Shepherd twenty-six or twenty-seven years. I do not know why he left the Wesleyans, but believe it was from a conviction that amongst us he would be more useful. I found him a local preacher in Bradford circuit,—a very useful and devoted man. The Bradford circuit employed him for some time as a hired local preacher; and he was made remarkably useful in carrying on a series of revival services in Bradford and the neighbourhood along with the late Mr. Joseph Smith, who was the superintendent of that circuit.”
Mr. Shepherd writes in his journal: “I was called out and pledged by the Bradford circuit in March, 1839. In 1841 I was stationed for Hull. Here I laboured as town missionary the first three quarters of a year, and forty souls were converted under my labours and joined society.”
He travelled successively in the following stations:—Bradford, Hull Ist, Brigg, Patrington, Barton, Hull 2nd, Brigg, second time; Grimsby, Pocklington, Driffield, Swinefleet, and Brigg, the third time. In many of the stations he was quite popular, very mighty, and extensively useful.
He writes, June 20th, 1846, at Filey: “A glorious day—twenty souls converted! In eight days more than fifty brought to God. Glory be to God.” In 1848 he says, “The cholera raged most dreadfully in Hull. During this period there were six weeks in which I had scarcely one hour’s rest at a time, either night or day. In these six weeks I visited more than 370 families where the cholera was raging; but in answer to many prayers God graciously preserved my life.”
The writer and the departed one were stationed together in 1860. I found him willing to labour beyond his strength. He went to his country appointments until our friends feared that when he retired to rest he would be found dead in the morning. In his application for superannuation he says, “The thought of having to retire from the public work of the ministry is painful to my mind; my soul has delighted in the work for many years, but I would willingly submit to the providence of Almighty God, and wait with patience my appointed time till my change come. I lament that I have not seen more souls converted to God; but rejoice that the Lord has not let me labour in vain, nor spend my strength for nought.”
Mr. Lamb says of him: “He was a plain man, of good common sense, well acquainted with the way of salvation by faith; a faithful, zealous, and earnest minister, of remarkably kind disposition and very obliging manners; was well received in the homes of the people, and I doubt not will meet with large number of souls in heaven that he was the humble and honoured means of leading to Christ.”
The Rev. W. Garner writes of him: “I found in him an agreeable colleague, a devoted and an acceptable preacher. He was naturally gifted with a musical ear and a tunable voice, and in his more vigorous days he frequently fixed the attention and warmed the hearts of his hearers by singing the songs of Zion, no less than by his plain and impressive sermons.”
He was superannuated by the Conference of 1861, and he removed from Brigg to Grimsby forthwith. Notwithstanding his “age and helplessness extreme” he was glad to supply the town pulpits, lead a class, or deliver a speech on all practicable occasions. He attended our March quarterly meeting in 1864 in his usual health, and we little thought his end so near. When he returned home that day he found Mrs. Shepherd very ill, and she remained in a very precarious state for weeks. He was soon prostrate. We heard of their affliction, visited them many times, and found in his case bronchitis, asthma, and complicated chronic disease, baffling medical skill, and resisting the power of medicine. He said but little; occasionally he whispered an ejaculatory prayer. His appetite forsook him, his strength rapidly declined, and he peacefully fell asleep in Jesus, March 29th, 1864, in the 70th year of his age. We interred him in the Grimsby Cemetery, and improved his death to a very large congregation in our Victoria street chapel, and we believe good was accomplished.
Mr. Shepherd’s sermons were replete with rich and varied experience, familiar illustrations, apt quotations, and biblical lore; plain, pointed, practical, peculiar, powerful, and exegetical; instructing, moving, melting, thrilling, and subduing many. “His gospel came not in word only, but in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.”
He won souls. That was his great object and his high encomium.
Thomas was baptised on 18 June 1792 at St peter, Bradford, Yorkshire. His father, also called Thomas, was living at Clayton Heights, Bradford..
He married Elizabeth (1793-1853) of Bradford, Yorkshire. Census returns identify one child.
- Henry (1827-1886) – a painter & lead crusher (1851); painter employing 1 man (1861)
Thomas married again, possibly Elizabeth Grange (nee Croft) in the summer of 1853 at Grimsby.
Thomas died on 29 March 1864 at Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
- 1841 Hull
- 1842 Brigg
- 1843 Patrington
- 1844 Hull
- 1845 Scarborough
- 1847 Barton on Humber
- 1848 Hull East
- 1850 Brigg
- 1852 Grimsby
- 1854 Pocklington
- 1856 Driffield
- 1858 Swinefleet
- 1860 Brigg
- 1861 Grimsby (Sup)
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1864/546
PM Minutes 1864/5
W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers