Jonathan Shepherd was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England on 31 March 1880.
He was the son of James Bromley Shepherd (b. 1850), an architect and surveyor, and Johanna Elizabeth Longbottom (b. 1851), natives of Whitehaven, Cumberland and Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, Ireland respectively and who had married in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1872.
One of nine children, Jonathan's known siblings were: Joseph Arthur (b. 1873), Frances (b. 1874), Margaret Honora (b. 1876), Ruth Dixon (b. 1878), John (b. 1882), Joseph (b. 1885) and Harold (b. 1889).
Jonathan appears on the 1881 census living at 12 Lowther Street in Whitehaven, Cumberland. He and his family would have moved to 9 Church Street, Whitehaven by the time of the next census in 1891. The family later moved to Blackburn, Lancashire and would show up on the 1901 census living at 4 Caton (?) Terrace. James was absent and listed elsewhere as a boarder at an address in Accrington, Lancashire where he was described as a textile machine fitter.
Jonathan had served an apprenticeship with James Davenport of Blackburn and he worked for Messrs. Howard & Bullough of Accrington and Hadfields of Sheffield before commencing a seagoing career with W. S. Kennaugh & Sons of Liverpool. Shepherd served on ships owned by James Chambers & Co. of Liverpool and joined the White Star line after obtaining his first class marine engineer's certificate of competency, serving firstly on the Adriatic and later on the Olympic. He was on the latter vessel when she struck the HMS Hawke and was reportedly one of the first to close the watertight doors following the collision.
Jonathan, who was never married, was not listed on the 1911 census; his mother had passed away in early 1911 and his widowed father and several siblings were listed as living at 27 London Road, Blackburn.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his lodgings address as 16 Bellevue Terrace, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Olympic and as junior assistant second engineer he could expect monthly wages of £12, 10s.
Shepherd was on duty on the evening of 14 April 1912. After the collision he helped the other engineers rig pumps in boiler room 5 but broke his leg when he slipped into a raised access plate. Leading fireman Frederick Barrett and engineer Herbert Harvey helped him to the pump-room. Shortly afterwards the nearby bulkheads were breached and Shepherd was left helpless as the waters rose around him.
Lost in the sinking, Jonathan Shepherd's body, if recovered, was never identified.