Sheppard, John (1858-1904)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference by T Phelps

JOHN SHEPPARD was born at Andover, August 12th, 1858. His parents were loyal and devoted members of our church, his father being a thoughtful and able local preacher, and his mother a disciple indeed. At the early age of eleven, under the ministry of Rev. L. Norris, he realised the “Saviour” s redeeming love, and became a member of our Church, and in 1871, when only thirteen years old, be began his life work as a preacher of the Gospel. After serving the churches with increasing acceptance for six years as a local preacher, he was heartily recommended by the Southampton Circuit Quarterly Meeting as a candidate for the ministry. He passed his examination with great credit, was placed on the reserve list, and at the ensuing Conference was appointed to Faringdon Circuit, where he gave abundant proof of his call to the ministry, and to which station he returned after a few years as superintendent minister. 

He afterwards laboured at Sturminster Newton (twice), Motcombe, Swindon, Cambourne, Brinkworth and Blandford, in each Ciruuit making many friends and seeing much fruit of his labours. In July, 1902, he removed to Winchester, where he worked most earnestly for the new church and schools, which he lived to see opened. But the hard toil of a quarter of a century had begun to tell on his constitution and during 1903 he had a serious break-down, which made his friends very anxious, but he was optimistic about his recovery, and as soon as possible returned to his much-loved work. 

His Circuit officials saw that he was seriously weakened, and showed their sympathy by giving him six months’ rest, and at the March quarterly meeting invited him to remain, on condition that he applied for a year’s rest. In a letter to the writer three days before his decease, he said he felt much better, and hoped he should soon be sufficiently strong not to need the year’s rest. But on the following Sunday, March 13th, the weary over-worked heart gave way, and in twenty minutes his spirit passed peacefully away to be with Christ, which is far better. The news of his departure caused a great shock throughout the district, and representatives from several Circuits were present when his remains were committed to the grave. 

His place in the ministry will be hard to fill, for he was gifted above many, and preached and spoke with rare eloquence and power. He was exceedingly modest, and had a very humble opinion of his gifts and work. He studied hard, and successfully passed the Chautauqua Course of study, though few were aware of the fact. He was thoroughly consecrated to his work, was most attentive to the business of his stations, and successfully superintended the erection of several new chapels. He took a great interest in the young and led many to decision for Christ. He was also a diligent family visitor, and all in trouble and need had a friend in him. His Circuits always prospered. Some of his stations were wide ones, entailing long journeys and heavy toil, but he never complained, and we doubt not that in the twenty-seven years of his ministry he spent more than the average forty years of service. He never considered himself. He was generous to a fault, and could not say ‘No,’ even when prudence and righteousness called on him to do so. But his motive was pure, he was devoid of selfish ambition, he sought nothing for himself, he lived for his church, and his wife and children. 

He will be sorely missed, and his presence in heaven will be an additional attraction to many of us who knew and loved him on earth. He leaves a widow and five children; may they be Divinely comforted and helped until they meet their loved one in the mansions above.

Family

John was born on 12 August 1858 at Andover, Hampshire, to parents William Sheppard, a toll collector & PM local preacher (1871), and Sarah Laishley.

He married Bessie Jane Juggins (1858-1934) in the summer of 1882 in the Bromyard Registration District, Herefordshire. Census returns identify five children.

  • William John (b1885) – an elementary schoolmaster (1911)   
  • Laishley James (1886-1937)    
  • Walter Cave (1888-1962) – assistant ironmonger (1911&1939)  
  • Lillie Beatrice (1892-1986) – a grocer’s cashier (1911); married George Henry Davis, a postman (1939), in 1918
  • Olive (1898-1984) – married Cyril Mark Douglas Jeynes  in 1931          

John died on 13 March 1904 at Winchester, Hampshire.

Circuits

  • 1877 Faringdon
  • 1879 Sturminster
  • 1883 Motcombe
  • 1885 Swindon
  • 1887 Faringdon
  • 1890 Redruth
  • 1891 Brinkworth
  • 1894 Blandford
  • 1897 Sturminster
  • 1902 Winchester

References

PM Minutes 1904/34

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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