SHEPHERD, JAMES, militia officer and office holder; b. c. 1730; d. unmarried 10 Jan. 1822 at Quebec.
James Shepherd’s origins and early career remain unknown. By his own statement, he served in the British army at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) in 1758. Six years later he signed a petition from the Quebec merchants who were demanding the recall of Governor James Murray*. On 13 Jan. 1765 he was commissioned clerk in the Court of Oyer and Terminer. He was appointed clerk of the peace for the district of Quebec on 13 May and he was also licensed as a notary, although he does not seem to have taken up that profession. Then on 6 August he received a commission as protonotary and chief clerk of the Court of King’s Bench. Shepherd was appointed sheriff of the district of Quebec by Governor Sir Guy Carleton* on 31 July 1776. In 1788 he was a lieutenant in the Quebec Battalion of British Militia. He was promoted captain, and then major, but retired from the militia before the War of 1812.
In November 1793, after notary Jean-Antoine Panet* had signed a summons, Shepherd as sheriff ordered the arrest of John Young*, the member of the assembly for Lower Town, who was being sued for debt by a hardware merchant. At Young’s urging, the assembly asserted that its members, like those of the British parliament, enjoyed immunity, and Shepherd, who was accused of having breached constitutional privileges, had to apologize to Young. As sheriff, Shepherd on 16 April 1800 proceeded with the seizure of the Jesuit estates after the death of Jean-Joseph Casot*, the last member of the order in Lower Canada. The government thus entered into possession of the Jesuit properties, seigneuries, and belongings. However, Shepherd handed over the church ornaments, consecrated vessels, and paintings to the cathedral of Quebec. On 20 July 1812 he sent a report to Governor Sir George Prevost* with his resignation as sheriff and court clerk on grounds of precarious health and infirmities. He asked that upon resigning his two offices he be allowed to retain his two salaries, which amounted to £220 annually.
Shortly before his death Shepherd revoked the power of attorney held by his clerk, Charles Farrain, and gave it to Marguerite Poulliot, his servant, granting her authority to manage his assets. The will that he drew up on 9 Jan. 1822 named her executrix and sole legatee. He died the next day at his home on Rue Saint-Louis at Quebec.
The inventory of James Shepherd’s possessions shows that he was well off, cultured, and in all likelihood bilingual. His estate consisted of a stone house on Rue Saint-Louis, debts owing to him estimated at £508 14s. 3d., and liabilities amounting to £112 12s. 9d.; he had also deposited £16,000 in the Bank of England. He owned a guitar and a library of about 265 volumes, and he maintained a large garden.
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 14 janv. 1822; CN1-212, 17 déc. 1821, 21 janv. 1822. Arch. judiciaires, Québec, Holograph will of James Shepherd, 21 Jan. 1822 (see P.-G. Roy, Inv. testaments, 3: 134). PAC, RG 4, B8, 1: 89; RG 68, 2: 19. Docs. relating to constitutional hist., 1759–91 (Shortt and Doughty; 1918); 1791–1818 (Doughty and McArthur); 1819–28 (Doughty and Story). Quebec Gazette, 3, 31 Jan. 1822. J. M. LeMoine, Quebec past and present, a history of Quebec, 1608–1876 (Quebec, 1876). “Les ‘dépouilles’ du père jésuite Cazot,” BRH, 26 (1920): 286–88. J.-E. Roy, “La liste du mobilier qui fut saisi en 1800 par le shérif de Québec, à la mort du père jésuite Cazot,” Rev. canadienne (Montréal), 25 (1889): 271–82. P.-G. Roy, “Les shérifs de Québec,” BRH, 40 (1934): 433–46.