John Shepard, Publican.

Little is known about John Shepherd, but it has now come to light that he is really John Shephard although in many newspaper reports he is referred as Sheppard and other spellings.


Research shows that John was born in 1853 in Markfield, one of 8 children of agricultural labourer Henry Shephard and his wife Mary.  In 1861 he is living with his father (widowed) and 3 siblings at The Green, Markfield.  By 1871 he was living in Old Lane in Swannington, at the home of a family called Heales, which should be Eales.  At this time he was a colliery labourer and married Betsy nee Eales at St George’s, Swannington on 3 October 1871. He was unable to sign his name on the marriage certificate which probably contributes to the various spellings of his name.  John was 20 and Betsy 22.  By 1881, still a colliery labourer, the couple are living at Hugglescote Lane, Donington le Heath.

John and Betsy Shephard Marriage Certificate 3.10.1871

The Engine, Hugglescote and Snibstone New Inn, Coalville

By November 1886, he was the publican at The Engine at Hugglescote and by 1891 was the landlord of Leicester Hotel in Coalville.  He appears to have been there from at least April 1891 until November 1894 when he moved to Snibstone New Inn were the 1891 census refers to him as a “publican of London Road”.

Snibstone New Inn in the 1890s

George and Dragon, Coalville

He was still at Snibstone New Inn in 1896 when there was a court case involving his wife and a cork puller, and in September 1898 there was another court case in which he was involved.  He is not listed in the 1899 trade directories as a publican in Coalville but by 1901, the couple are at Oxford Cottage, London Road, Coalville and he is listed as retired publican. There are notices in local newspapers about land owned by Mr Sheppard being sold. His retirement seems to have been short lived as sometime before May 1908, he moved to the George and Dragon, where newspapers report state he witnessed an accident. In April 1909 the transfer is mentioned of the pub from John Shepherd to Fred Brown.

In Court

By August 1909, when he was in court again, he was keeping a pub in Osgathorpe, but it is unknown which.  He had been driving a cart whilst intoxicated having been to the Market Bosworth show, and around 9.30pm on 5 August had hit 3 cyclists whilst coming through the Market Place in Coalville, smashing one of the bikes.  The Court heard that he had lived in the neighbourhood for 40 years and was highly respected regardless he was fined a guinea with 8 shillings and 6 pence costs or 21 days in prison.


By 1911, Betsy Shephard is living at The Limes, Coalville Lane, Ravenstone, whilst John is landlord of the Corporation Arms Hotel, New Street, Burton on Trent with his nieces, Mary and Kate Ash, who helped him run the business. He was listed there in the town directory for 1912, but had left by December 1912. His death is unknown but he may have died at the Leicester Royal Infirmary in May 1925 and buried in Coalville. Betsy had died on 21 Sept 1921 in Gutteridge Street, Coalville.  She was buried at the church at Snibston and left £2,748 10s 6d in her will.  Neither of her executors were her husband and one appears to be her brother, Charles.


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