SHEPHEARD, Francis (1676-1739), of London, and Exning, Suff.
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Family and Education
bap. 18 Oct. 1676, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Samuel Shepheard I*; bro. of Samuel Shepheard II*. ?unm. 1s. illegit. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1719.
Dir. New E. I. Co. 1706–7, united E. I. Co. 1712–15; commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711.
Freeman, Cambridge 1707.1
Following his father’s example, Shepheard established himself as a London wine-trader. His parliamentary career was also founded on his father’s influence, for Francis’ candidacy at Andover in January 1701 formed part of Shepheard senior’s campaign to promote the interest of the New East India Company. Even though ‘altogether a stranger and utterly unknown’ in the Hampshire borough, the younger Shepheard secured an uncontested return. However, the furore which greeted reports of his father’s electioneering inevitably rebounded on Francis, and on 19 Mar. he was summoned to the bar of the Commons to give testimony. He revealed little stomach for a fight, apologizing for causing the House any trouble, and observing that ‘he did not think of standing till it was offered to him, and he hoped the House would not think him guilty of bribery’. The Commons immediately discharged him, but, unlike his father, he received no further punishment.2
Undaunted by his experience, Shepheard successfully stood for Andover at the second election of 1701, and was listed with the Whigs by Robert Harley*. He did not prove a particularly active Member. He was selected for the committee to receive proposals for the encouragement of privateers in the West Indies, and acted as a teller on 20 May 1702 in support of a rider to an Irish forfeitures bill. At the ensuing general election he was again the only member of his family to be returned, and remained inconspicuous in the House. In the second session he acted as a teller in support of a clause for a bill to recruit marine and land forces, and told again in the third session against a proposed duty on East India goods re-exported to Ireland and the West Indies, an issue of obvious family interest. His politics remained consistent, for in October 1704 he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and subsequently voted against that measure.
Both Shepheard and his father were returned at the general election of 1705, thereby obscuring their Commons activity as recorded in the Journals. At the outset of the new Parliament the younger Shepheard could still be bracketed with the Whigs, since he was listed as ‘Low Church’ and on 25 Oct. 1705 voted for the Court candidate as Speaker. However, by the third session there were evidently doubts over his allegiance, as the compiler of a parliamentary list of early 1708 appears to have amended his assessment of Shepheard’s politics from Whig to Tory. Moreover, Shepheard’s voting record over the course of that Parliament was warmly commended by the rigid Tory, Hon. Arthur Annesley*. Significantly, the year before, Shepheard had become a freeman of Cambridge, where his brother Samuel was seeking to build up an electoral interest in alliance with local Tories. Another observer still regarded Francis as a Whig in early 1708, but in the succeeding years it was clear that he and the rest of his family had moved towards the Harleyite Tories. His decision not to contest the Andover election of 1708 may have been influenced by this switch of loyalties, for his seat was secured by the Whigs without a contest.3
Although Shepheard did not stand at another parliamentary election, he continued to support his father’s political initiatives in the City. In April 1711 he featured as one of the unsuccessful ministerial candidates at the East India Company elections. Moreover, in the same year he was appointed as a receiver for the first subscription for the South Sea Company, of which his father was a prominent director. However, although he served as a director of the East India Company in the last years of Anne’s reign, he did not become a dominant force in City politics, and, like his brother Samuel, established his principal residence at Exning, Suffolk. On his father’s death in 1719, he inherited a huge fortune, but chose to pursue his career away from public life. His private affairs remain somewhat mysterious, for although there is no evidence of his ever having been married, he had a son Francis, who died in February 1735 at Cambridge. Intriguingly, his will mentions a Susanna Simons, who was permitted to be buried in his family vault at Exning, and one source indeed suggests that she was the mother of his child. Shepheard was reportedly worth ‘above £100,000’ on his death on 23 Oct. 1739, and, for want of an heir, his estate passed to his brother Samuel.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci
- 1. Guildhall Lib. mic. 11361; Daily Courant, 25 Apr. 1706; info. from Prof. H. G. Horwitz; Pittis, Present Parl. 352; Cambs. RO (Cambridge), Cambridge bor. recs. common day bk. 1681–1722, p. 405.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 374; Add. 27440, f. 164.
- 3. Speck thesis, 389.
- 4. Boyer, Pol. State, i. 263; Add. 19148, ff. 379–80; PCC 245 Henchman; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 554.