John Sheppard

The person who lost the election to Philip Broke was John Sheppard. A John Sheppard also subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account, and a John Sheppard subscribed to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective. These were probably not all the same person. The Sheppards of Mendlesham, Campsey Ash, and Wetheringset were a well-to-do family who had an alarming tendency to be called John and die without children, so that property was always bouncing between different branches of the family. The original John Sheppard lived at Mendlesham and was high constable of Hartismere in the time of Charles I. He had a son called John, who first bought High House, later known as Ash House, at Campsey Ash in 1654. This house was still the seat of the Sheppards in the late 1800s. However, the second John had a son called John, who in turn had a son, John. The third John died in 1669, and the fourth only two years later. The fourth John had no children, so the estate passed to a relative, Edmund, and then to his son John. This is probably our first subscriber John. John’s father Edmund was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1689, and John himself was High Sheriff in 1709 and 1714. Hence, he is likely to be the John Sheppard who stood against Philip Broke. John married Anne, Countess of Leicester, who was the widow of Philip Sydney, 5th Earl of Leicester. They had no (surviving) children and she died in 1726. John then married Hannah Wilmot, a lady who augmented their already quite considerable estate. However, they had no children, and after John died in 1747, she married Sir Samuel Pryme, who gained a lasting reputation as a raconteur. Kirby’s Historical Account appeared in 1748, so it is entirely possible that the John Sheppard who died in October 1747 was the subscriber. It seems less likely that he subscribed to the Method of Perspective, which was not published until 1754. When John died, the Sheppard estates passed to another relative, Thomas Sheppard, and then to his son John. This John, although only born in 1730, could be the second subscriber. John, son of Thomas, never married, and when he died in 1770, the estate passed to a relative, John Sheppard, born in 1737. This John had a son, John, and six daughters by his first wife, and five sons and five daughters by his second wife. The first son, John, had only one child, John, who inherited on his father’s death in 1824. The Campsey Ash estate finally passed out of the family hands in 1882, when the last John Sheppard died without any heirs. According to the website of the Campsey Ash church, “It is believed that at least 14 members of the Sheppard [family] are buried in a vault in the chancel of the Church – but we don’t know exactly where!”

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Philip Broke

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