James Edward Shepherd

8th NC Supreme Court Chief Justice

Date Born: July 26, 1845

Date Died: February 7, 1910

Place Born: Mintonville, VA

Place Buried: Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC


Chief Justice 1892-1895
Associate Justice 1889-1892

James Edward Shepherd was born on July 26, 1845 in Mintonville, VA, the son of Thomas Swepson Shepherd and Anne Eliza (Brown) Shepherd. Orphaned at age ten, he was placed under the care of his older brother, William S. Shepherd, and he attended school in Murfreesboro, NC.

In 1861, although only fourteen (14) years old, James Edward Shepherd attached himself to Company A of the 16th VA Regiment and served as a "marker" for the regiment. Later he became a military telegraph operator and served in Giles County, VA and in Wilson, NC.

From 1867 to 1868, James Edward Shepherd studied law at the University of North Carolina. After passing the NC bar in 1869, he practiced law first in Wilson, NC.

In 1872, James Edward Shepherd married Ann Elizabeth Bowen Brown, daughter of Sylvester Tilman Brown and Elizabeth Ann (Bonner) Brown of Washington, NC; they had two known children.

After his marriage, James Edward Shepherd moved to his wife's hometown, Washington, NC, and he entered into a law partnership with Thomas Sparrow, which continued a very long and successful career in the law.

In 1875, James Edward Shepherd represented Beaufort County in the 1875 NC Constitutional Convention. In 1876, he was elected a Judge of the Inferior Court of Beaufort County. Between 1882 and 1888 he was a Judge in the NC Superior Court.

In 1889, the University of North Carolina, where he taught law for eight summer terms, awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree.

In late 1889, James Edward Shepherd was appointed by Gov. David Gould Fowle as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice William Nathan Harrell Smith, who had just died while on the bench.

On November 16, 1892, James Edward Shepherd was appointed by Gov. Thomas Michael Holt as Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice Augustus Summerfield Merrimon, who had died on the bench on November 14, 1892. He served in that position until 1895, when he was defeated for re-election.

Upon his departure from the bench, James Edward Shepherd was free to resume his practice of law and did so, entering into a partnership with Charles M. Busbee of Raleigh. He continued in this practice until his death.

On February 7, 1910, James Edward Shepherd died, and he was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.

Appointed by Governor Thomas M. Holt on November 16, 1892. Defeated for re-election in 1894 by William T. Faircloth.
James Edward Shepherd (1847-1910) was a lawyer and jurist who served on the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Shepherd was born at Mintonville, near Suffolk, Virginia, the son of Thomas Swepson Shepherd (1811-1860) and his first wife Ann Eliza Browne (1813-1852). After the outbreak of the American Civil War, James, not quite 14 years old, claimed to be eighteen and joined Company A, 16th Regiment, of the Virginia Infantry, as a private. At the end of summer in 1862, Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved into Maryland during its first invasion of the North. During this campaign young Shepherd revealed the fact that he was only fifteen and was discharged from military service near Frederick, Maryland, on September 8. He spent the remainder of the war as a telegraph operator under contract with the C.S.A. War Department, first in Giles County, Virginia, then at Wilson, North Carolina.

Shepherd attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1867 and 1868, and was admitted to the bar and opened a practice in Wilson, NC in 1869. After marrying, he moved to Washington, North Carolina to join his father-in-law in his law practice. He became active in local politics, serving as chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party. In 1875, Shepherd was elected delegate from Beaufort County and Pamlico County to the state Constitutional Convention, where he authored a provision on county government. The following year, 1876, he was elected judge of the Beaufort County Inferior Court, an office he held until 1882 when he was elected Judge of the Superior Court. Shepherd was elected as an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1888 and was appointed Chief Justice in late 1892 (after the death of Chief Justice Augustus Summerfield Merrimon). Shepherd served as Chief Justice until 1895 when he was defeated for re-election to the high court by William T. Faircloth.

James E. Shepherd was born in Nansemond County, Virginia on July 26, 1845.

During the War, he was a telegraph operator in Virginia.

He studied law under Judge William H. Battle; was admitted to the bar in 1869, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875.

He was appointed to the NC Superior Court by Governor Thomas J. Jarvis in August of 1882, and by subsequent election, he continued until promoted to the NC Supreme Court, where he took his seat on January 1, 1889. On the death of Chief Justice Augustus S. Merrimon, he was appointed by Governor Thomas M. Holt in November of 1892 as Chief Justice, but he was defeated at the general election of 1894 and returned to private practice in January of 1895.

He died at a hospital in Baltimore, where he had gone for treatment, in February of 1910.

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