Wm 'Master' Shepherd

An early 19th century choir master who taught in various parts of the Island, in himself relatively unimportant, but thanks both to an account of his teaching methods left by Dr Clague, and the preservation of several part books belonging to members of his class at Kirk Christ Rushen, a unique heritage of 18th Psalmody has been preserved. Shepherd was active in the south of the Island in 1809 and 1833 - he appears to have left the Island before.1840 when William Duke took over the choir - he appears in a court case in July 1838 (Clague is mistaken about him being buried at Malew - this was his son Robert Shepherd who from 1837 (see Pigot's directory) was tenant of the Calf of Man ). According to Clague Shepherd was steward to Deemster Gawne, at Ballacurrey. There is an interesting presentment in Ballaugh in 1806 of Daniel Cowle for behaving rudely and outrageously whilst in a state of intoxication, by entering the church and insulting the singing master Mr Shepherd while he was instructing the youth of the parish in Psalmody.

Described as 'coming from Cumberland' in the early part of the 19th century F. Bazin gives a conjectural family tree.

William Shepherd = Mary Cort
                 |  m. 1781 Brigham Cumberland
   |                        |                          |
William = Eliz. Clucas   Elizabeth = Joseph Howgate  Robert= Ann
 b.1783    m. 1803                m. 1815 Braddan     b.11 Mar 1796 Wigton
Brigham    Braddan                                    d. 1862 bur. Malew

The elder William being 'Master' Shepherd.

(Joseph Howgate, b. 1796 was a Boot and Shoe maker in Union Mills in 1837(Pigot's Directory) but later a Wool Spinner/ Clothier at the Mill).

It would appear most likely that Dr Clague, writing c. 1908, drew upon his youthfull friendship with William Duke, a pupil of Shepherd, and himself a choir master (and Parish Clerk).

The Rev John Clague, Vicar of Rushen, translated several of Tate and Brady's metrical psalms into Manx to be set to Shepherd's tunes - although he prepared his manuscript for publication it was not printed until 1905 in Psalmyn Ghavid.


J Clague Manx Reminiscences Castletown: M Backwell 1911 - chapter 11

F. Roads (ed) Anthymyn as Saumyn West Gallery Church Music from Kirk Christ Rushen (2nd ed) Roding Music (ISBN 0-95283190-2)(61 Malmesbury Rd London E18 2NL)

F Roads The Colby Manuscripts 2nd Intl Conf on Georgian Psalmody Clacton August 1997 (pub by S.G. Publishing 1999)

F. Bazin Much inclin'd to Music. The Manx and their Music before 1918 Douglas: Manx Heritage Foundation (ISBN 0-952-40193-2) 1997

F. Bazin The Role and Status of Musician in the Isle of Man 1800-1860
Proc IoMNH&ASoc X #3 pp179/199 1996

J. E. Madrell Early Nineteenth Century Popular Psalmody in the Isle of Man: A Preliminary Study
Proc IoMNH&ASoc X #2 pp55/63 1994



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 1999