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Shepherd, Henry Elliot

17 Jan. 1844–29 May 1929

Photograph of Henry Elliott Shepherd in Confederate uniform, from his <i>Narrative of Prison Life at Baltimore and Johnson's Island, Ohio,</i> published 1917 by Commerical Ptg. & Sta. Co., Baltimore.  Presented on Henry Elliot Shepherd, college president, author, and lecturer, was born in Fayetteville, the son of Jesse George and Catherine Isabella Dobbin Shepherd. His mother was a sister of James C. Dobbin, secretary of the navy. Young Shepherd was educated locally at Donaldson Academy, studied briefly at Davidson College until poor health forced his withdrawal, attended the North Carolina Military Institute in Charlotte for eighteen months, and then was at the University of Virginia until he entered the Confederate army in 1861. Commissioned a lieutenant at age seventeen, he trained recruits for a time before entering the Forty-third Regiment, North Carolina Troops. He was captured at Gettysburg and held as a prisoner until the end of the war.

Returning to Fayetteville as a battle-scarred veteran of twenty-one, Shepherd taught briefly at an academy in Louisburg, but in 1868 he began teaching in City College, Baltimore. In 1875 he became superintendent of the Baltimore public schools, and after seven years he was named president of the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Under his administration the years between 1882 and 1897 saw what came to be regarded as "the renaissance of the College of Charleston." During his summer vacations, Shepherd taught in colleges and universities in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina.

Leaving Charleston in 1897, Shepherd settled in Baltimore to spend the remainder of his life in literary and historical research and in writing and lecturing. He was the author of History of the English Language, Life of Robert Edward Lee, Narrative of Prison Life at Baltimore and Johnson's Island, Ohio, An Historical Reader for the Use of Classes in Academies, High Schools, and Grammar Schools, Historical Readings for the Use of Teachers' Reading Circles, and A Commentary Upon Tennyson's In Memoriam. The latter was prepared with the assistance of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, himself. In addition, he edited a history of Baltimore, prepared a study of Edgar Allan Poe, and contributed multiple entries to the New English Dictionary published by the Oxford University Press. His articles appeared in scholarly, popular, and religious journals throughout the United States and in Great Britain. Shepherd once estimated that he had published over eight hundred articles. He was an active member of many professional and scholarly organizations.

There is no record that Shepherd ever received an earned degree, but Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., awarded him an honorary master's degree, and Davidson College and The University of North Carolina in 1883 each granted him honorary doctor of laws degrees. An ardent Presbyterian churchman, he often spoke at church gatherings. He was a Democrat but apparently took no part in political activities, and he is not known to have had any interest in sports.

On 25 June 1867 he married Kate MacGregor Goodridge of Norfolk, Va. They became the parents of two sons and one daughter. Shepherd died and was buried in Baltimore.


Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 6 (1907).

Baltimore Sun, 30 May 1929.

Charlotte Observer, 26 Feb. 1928.

Davidson College alumni records (Davidson, N.C.).

Nat. Cyc. Am. Biog., vol. 33 (1947).

Raleigh News and Observer, 17 Jan. 1926.

Additional Resources:

"Presidents Through the Years." History and Traditions, College of Charleston. (accessed May 6, 2014). [Portrait.]

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). An historical reader for the use of classes in academies, high schools, and grammar schools. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1884. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). Narrative of prison life at Baltimore and Johnson's Island, Ohio. Baltimore: Commercial Ptg. & Sta. Co. 1917. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). Historical readings for the use of teachers' reading circles. New York: American Book Company. 1893. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). A commentary upon Tennyson's In memoriam. New York: The Neale publishing company. 1908. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Fayette County, and the boroughs and townships of the county :also, portraits and biographies of the governors since 1790, and genealogies,family histories and biographies of representative men of the county :illustrated. Uniontown, Pa.: S.B. Nelson. 1900. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). A grammar of the English language. Baltimore: J. B. Piet & Co. 1883. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). The representative authors of Maryland, from the earliest time to the present day, with biographical notes and comments upon their work. New York: Whitehall Publishing Company. 1911. (accessed May 6, 2014).

Image Credits:

Shepherd, Henry E. (Henry Elliot). Narrative of prison life at Baltimore and Johnson's Island, Ohio. Baltimore, Commercial Ptg. & Sta. Co. 1917. (accessed May 6, 2014).

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