Shepherd, Mary (c. 1780–1847)

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Shepherd, Mary (c. 1780–1847)

Scottish philosopher. Name variations: Lady Mary Shepherd; Lady Mary Primrose. Born Mary Primrose around 1780; died on January 7, 1847; second daughter of Neil Primrose, 3rd earl of Rosebery; married Henry John Shepherd, on April 11, 1808 (died January 7, 1847).

Selected works:

An Essay on the Relation of Cause and Effect, Controverting the Doctrine of Mr. Hume, Concerning the Nature of that Relation (1824); Essays on the Perception of an External Universe and Other Subjects Connected with the Doctrine of Causation (1827); essays critical of the views of John Fearn in Parriana (1829); a response to Fearn in Fraser's Magazine (1832); possibly another book.

Little is known about Lady Mary Shepherd, born around 1780, the daughter of the 3rd earl of Rosebery, Neil Primrose. In 1808, she married Henry John Shepherd, son of the Rt. Honorable Sir Samuel Shepherd, exchequer of Scotland from 1819 to 1830. Shepherd wrote two, possibly three, books. Both An Essay on the Relation of Cause and Effect and Essays on the Perception of an External Universe were published many years after her marriage, in 1827 and 1829. Shepherd took a particular interest in the philosopher David Hume, and often addressed her arguments against the views of the contemporary Scottish philosophers. She was particularly concerned with the skepticism of Hume, and its implication of atheism. Shepherd also published a set of criticisms of the views of the retired naval officer turned philosopher John Fearn, in a collection called Parriana. His reply and her response were published together in Fraser's Magazine in 1832.


Atherton, Margaret. Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1994.

Kersey, Ethel M. Women Philosophers: A Bio-critical Source Book. NY: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Catherine Hundleby , M.A. Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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Shepherd, Mary (c. 1780–1847)

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