William Sheppard's father was Edmund Sheppard who was a Judge at the Supreme Court in Queensland, Australia. William was educated at Brisbane Grammar School, Australia, before coming to England and completing his school education at Charterhouse School. He first matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1881 and was Senior Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos of 1884. Sheppard was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1887 and, like many mathematicians from this period, he decided on a career in law and was called to the bar.
Quickly Sheppard realised that his interests were in education rather than law and, in 1896, he was appointed to the Education Department. His initial appointment was as a Junior Examiner, but he gained promotion to Senior Examiner before being appointed as Assistant Secretary in 1914. He retired in 1921.
Sheppard spent some time in Edinburgh following his retirement and during this time he collaborated with Aitken. He joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in December 1926 while living in Edinburgh and remained a member for the rest of his life. He was also a member of the Mathematical Association and was honoured by that organisation by being elected President for session 1928-9. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 7 March 1932, his proposers being Sir Edmund T Whittaker, George James Lidstone, Alexander C Aitken, William Ogilvy Kermack.
An obituary, written by A C Aitken and E T Whittaker, appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Volume 56 (1935-36), 279-82.
We give a version of this obituary at THIS LINK.
On 10 June 1902, Sheppard married Elsa Stevens; they had three sons.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson