back Uncle (8G)
the Reverend Thomas Shepard
Lots of people still think highly of our 8th Great-Uncle Thomas Shepard (1605-1649). He’s nearly as famous as our Uncle King Richard, though for different reasons and with different fan clubs. It’s fair to say that he’s easier to admire.

I haven’t seen any convincing image of the Reverend Thomas, but he left a picture of his remarkable mind and spirit in a lot of beautiful published writings that we still have. And some of his fans have written about him.
This is Shepard Gate, leading into Harvard Yard from Mass Ave. It’s right that Harvard should name this gate after him: according to Cotton Mather, it was largely because of his ministry that “the College” came to “the New Towne,” and Cambridge became a town. But that’s a longish story.
Like Uncle King Richard, our Reverend Uncle Thomas packed a lot of accomplishment into a short life. His powerful Puritan preaching got him into trouble in England, and so he came to America.

When his father-in-law, (our 8th great grandfather) the Reverend Thomas Hooker, led a large congregation away from “the New Towne” to create Hartford in Connecticut, Shepard took his place as the local preacher and soon became the first settled minister in what would become Cambridge.

Later, when Hooker sent letters urging Shepard to follow him to Hartford, it nearly started a war between the Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies.
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