Dick Sheppard (priest)

Dick Sheppard
Dean of Canterbury
Church Canterbury Cathedral
In office 1929–1931
Other posts Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields (1914–1926)
Rector of Glasgow University (1937)
Ordination 1908
Personal details
Born (1880-09-02)2 September 1880
Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Died 31 October 1937(1937-10-31) (aged 57)
City of London, UK
Buried Canterbury Cathedral
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Residence Paternoster Row (at death)
Parents Edgar Sheppard & Mary née White
Spouse Alison née Lennox (m. 1915)
Children 2 daughters[1]
Alma mater Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Hugh Richard Lawrie "Dick" Sheppard CH (2 September 1880 – 31 October 1937) was an English Anglican priest, Dean of Canterbury and Christian pacifist.[2]

Early life and education

Sheppard was the younger son of Edgar Sheppard, a minor canon at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor, and Mary White. Born at the Cloisters in Windsor,[1] he was educated at Marlborough College and then (1901–1904) Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He worked with the poor from Oxford House, Bethnal Green and then for a year as secretary to Cosmo Lang, then Bishop of Stepney.


He studied for the ministry at Cuddesdon College and was ordained priest in 1908. Returning to work with the poor at Oxford House, in 1910 he suffered the first of what would prove to be recurrent breakdowns due to overwork.

With the onset of war, Sheppard spent some months as chaplain to a military hospital in France, before being sent home with exhaustion. Supported by Lang, he took the fashionable and high-profile living at St Martin-in-the-Fields, turning the church into an accessible social centre for all those in need. He married Alison Lennox, who had nursed him during his breakdowns, in 1915.[1]

From 1924, when Sheppard provided the first service ever broadcast by the BBC, his broadcast sermons gave him national fame. However, another breakdown and acute asthma led to his resignation in 1926. Having become a pacifist, he articulated a vision of a non-institutional church in The Impatience of a Parson (1927). Sheppard was partly responsible for the annual Festival of Remembrance that takes place in the Albert Hall, London on the first Saturday in November before Remembrance Sunday. In November 1925 he wrote to The Times protesting against a proposed Charity Ball on Armistice Day. Following a nationwide response a solemn ceremony In Memory replaced the Ball.[3] Such was its resonance with the public that it became an annual event that continues to this day.

Lang, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1928, supported the appointment of Sheppard as Dean of Canterbury in 1929. Although his preaching attracted huge audiences, illness once again forced resignation in 1931.

After resignation

Trying to develop a public political platform for pacifism, with Herbert Gray and Maude Royden, Sheppard proposed in 1931 a Peace Army of unarmed peacemakers to stand between the Chinese and Japanese armies in Shanghai. More successfully, he issued a call for "peace pledges" in 1934. He published We Say 'No' (1935) and formally established the Peace Pledge Union in 1936. In 1937 – the year of his death aged 57 – his wife left him and students elected him Rector of Glasgow University.

Death and legacy

Sheppard died at home in Paternoster Row[1] and his funeral in St Paul's Cathedral drew huge crowds. He is buried in the cloisters at Canterbury Cathedral.[4]

The character of the priest Robert Carbury in Vera Brittain's novel Born 1925 is based on Sheppard.[5]


Vera Brittain, Captain Philip S. Mumford, L.B. Pekin, Canon C.E. Raven, E. Graham Howe,Elizabeth Thorneycroft, and R.H. Ward).

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Sheppard, Hugh Richard Lawrie [Dick]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36061. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Alan Wilkinson, Sheppard, Hugh Richard Lawrie (1880–1937), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 17 June 2009
  3. Roberts R. Ellis, 'H.R.L. Sheppard Life and Letters', John Murray, London 1942, p.145
  4. Brittain, Vera (1957). "5 section 14". Testament of Experience. Golanz.
  5. Martin Ceadel, Pacifism in Britain, 1914–1945 : the defining of a faith. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1980. ISBN 0198218826 (p.239).

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Iain Colquhoun
Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Archie Sinclair
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.