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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the English Shepard family come from? What is the English Shepard family crest and coat of arms? When did the Shepard family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Shepard family history?

The name Shepard is rooted in the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. It is a name for someone who worked as a person who worked as a shepherd, the guardian of the sheep. Occupational names that were derived from the common trades of the medieval era transcended European cultural and linguistic boundaries. Occupational names frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames. In this case the surname was originally derived from the Old English word sceap, meaning sheep and hierde meaning herdsman. While this traditional understand of the surname's meaning is in many ways self explanatory today, in examining the Coat of Arms invariably we find battle axes. This is not surprising as the ancient shepherds were employed to dig sod around the embattlements of a Saxon village as a means of defense, hence the term "the shepherd's ring." Their tools were battle axes.


It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Shepard are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Shepard include: Shepherd, Shephard, Sheppard, Sheppeard, Shepperd and others.

First found in the Southern counties of England, where they could be found from early times. Early recorded instances of the name include William Sepherd listed in Rotuli Hundredorum, in Oxfordshire in 1279. [1] The same rolls listed Margaret le Sephirde in Huntingdon and Walter le Schepherde in Cambridgeshire. [2] Henry Sephurde was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex of 1296 while Walter le Shepperde was listed in the Feet of Fines of Staffordshire in 1307. [1]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shepard research. Another 169 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 1307, 1317, 1327, 1399, 1413, 1515, 1559, 1605, 1649, 1635, 1648, 1720, 1634, 1698 and are included under the topic Early Shepard History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 183 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shepard Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Shepard family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 117 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Shepard or a variant listed above:

Shepard Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Shepard, who came to Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630
  • John Shepard, who landed in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1635
  • Ralph Shepard, who arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1635
  • Samuel Shepard, who arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1635
  • Thomas Shepard, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1635

Shepard Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Owen Shepard, who landed in Virginia in 1703

Shepard Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • J C Shepard, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • W H Shepard, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1860


  • Rear Admiral (USN, Ret.) Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. (1923-1998), the first American astronaut in space, the fifth and oldest person to walk on the Moon, the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to walk on the Moon
  • David Hammond Shepard (1923-2007), American inventor best known for the first optical character recognition device
  • Lewis Capet Shepard (1841-1919), American Civil War Medal of Honor recipient
  • Sam Shepard (b. 1943), born Samuel Shepard Rogers III, American playwright and actor, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play, Buried Child, and was an Academy Award nominee for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager
  • William M. Shepard (b. 1949), former NASA astronaut with over 159 days in space
  • Ernest Howard Shepard OBE, MC (1879-1976), British artist & illustrator, best known for his illustrations in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne


  • The History of the Shepherd Family by Robert Sidney Shepherd.
  • The Shephard Genealogy by Lowell Shepard Blaisdell.
  • William G. Shepherd (also Shepard) Family Story and Genealogy by Ralph W. Hedrick.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fide et virtute
Motto Translation: By fidelity and valour.


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  1. ^ Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)

Other References

  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  3. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  4. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  5. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  6. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Shepard Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shepard Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 27 September 2014 at 09:20.

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