Ancestry: David and Kesiah Sheppard

1st Generation

This exerpt borrowed from Island Studies: Black Islanders by Jim Hornby.

Several people who I’ve connected with the last while, do not have access to this book and there are some interesting ‘bits’ concerning these two.  I hope that this will be to some assistance in their research.  My thanks to Jim Hornby.  This information is eloquently shared on page 27.

Mr. Hornby tells us that it is almost a certainty that David Sheppard was brought to Prince Edward Island by Lieutenant-Governor Fanning.  Fanning was, at the time, a Loyalist who was forced to leave North Carolina after the Revolutionary War…and I believe (that is me) that he went on to the State of Virginia.  From there, Fanning “moved to Nova Scotia, and then Prince Edward Island.”  David Sheppard was one of at least four slaves owned by Fanning, who may have been part of the group that moved north to Atlantic Canada.  “Fanning complained, ‘It has actually cost me in removing my servants and baggage to this Island nearly 100 guineas.'”

As  I’ve been seeking information, I have found both a David Shepard and a Kesiah Sheppard on the ship, l’Abondance.  I don’t have any validations stating that these are my two.  It is a possibility.  Here, right out of the Book of Negroes.

“David Shephard, 15, likely boy. Formerly the property of William Shephard, Nansemond, Virginia; left him 4 years ago. GBC.”

Back to Jim Hornby’s narrative.

“David Sheppard’s life is recorded largely in court documents.  In February 1792, he was convicted of larceny.  On July 2, Executive Council accepted a petition that his punishment be remitted.  Supreme Court Minutes for July 14, 1792, note: ‘Davy, a black man, convicted of stealing a saw, was sentenced to receive 39 lashes – but was afterwards pardoned.’  It is possible that Davy was spared because he was the governor’s property.  Historian T. Watson Smith wrote in 1899 that Fanning had given ‘Shepherd’ a farm when he set him free, and while this statement has since been repeated, no corroboration has yet been found.

Sheppard and his wife Kesiah (or Kissy) had several children.  Benjamin (who might have been born before they arrived) was baptized on March 22, 1789.  Catherine was born to David and an unrecorded woman on July 4, 1791.  Anna Maria was born on February 13, 1794, to David and Kesiah Wilson and two more girls followed: Sarah (April 4, 1799) and Mary Millicent (January 23, 1803).

Sheppard’s relationship with his wife was perhaps rocky, because on October 28, 1802, he was brought to court and ordered to post a 20 pound bond to keep the peace – ‘particularly towards Kesiah Shepard, his wife.’ Whether David died soon afterward, settled on his supposed farm, or left the Island, is not known.  In any event, within ten years Kesiah Sheppard was married to another balck man and probable former slave, Samuel Martin, and together they helped to found the black district in Charlottetown.

While David Sheppard’s life remains obscure, his descendants became the most prolific black family name on Prince Edward Island.”

The book that I am referring to above is no longer in print and I am hoping that this offers some assistance.  I thank Jim Hornby for his thorough research as many families knit together their histories.  Given the huge struggles of both the French Acadians and the displaced Black families of early Canada, it is a marvel that we are able to put the puzzle together!

I also wish to thank the Black Islanders of PEI site (no longer linked), for sharing the schematic of the First Generation of David and Kesiah.  My readers will find some strong documentation for the subject here.

12 thoughts on “Ancestry: David and Kesiah Sheppard

  1. Nice write up ,,found this on Google..Personally, I am direct Descendant of David and Kesiah and there only boy, Benjamin..and I am of the early Acadian settlers on my other side.
    many of us still live or are from one of the early black settlements In Cardigan,Prince Edward Island.
    take care.
    -me.

    • That is amazing, Daryll. Lt. Governor Fanning is my first cousin nine times removed. Edmund Fanning may have been a slave owner of your ancestor, but I’m glad he saved your ancestor from the whipping post. It is pretty nice that we are able to talk about this. Everyone has a unique background. The reason Edmund enslaved your ancestor was that it was a tradition for the English. Slavery is wrong, but Edmund seemed that he treated your ancestor like a person by giving him a farm.

      • A pleasure to meet you, great write up and a very small world indeed. I thank his kindness for if not I wouldn’t exist to have such a neat family history.
        -DARRYL.

      • You are very lucky. Also if it weren’t for the Treaty of Paris, me and my family wouldn’t exist.

  2. What an awesome thing that this mode of communication can contribute to the reconciliation of families past and present. I am blessed to have met both of you and look forward to the continued journey in family history. Bless you.

  3. Pingback: ‘The Bog’ Legacy | The Chapel

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