Monday, February 10, 2014

A New Hampshire Man Imprisoned in the Tower of London, 1683, Facing Execution for Treason!

The GOVE memorial
at Hampton, New Hampshire's Founder's Park

Almost a century before the American colonies rose up in resistance against Mother England during the Revolutionary War, a New Hampshire man rose up against the crown.  Edward Gove (about 1635 – 1691) was a large land holder in Hampton, New Hampshire. He was made a member of the assembly in 1680, and became the leader of a group opposed to the Royal Governor Edward Cranfield.

Edward Cranfield had been appointed Governor in 1682 by the king, and came to New Hampshire with the plan of transforming the colony into plantations for the gentry. He attempted to nullify many land deeds existing in New Hampshire for his plan.  He also dissolved the Council, which was a very unpopular move.  Edward Gove and a group of other men opposed the new Governor.

Gove and eleven others (Jonathan Thing, Nathaniel Ladd, Joseph Hadley, Robert Wadley, Thomas Rawlins/Rollins, Mark Baker, John Sleeper, John Gove (Edward’s son), and others)  were arrested and brought before the court in Portsmouth on 1 February 1682/3.   The entire group was found guilty of treason, but only Edward Gove was sentenced to death by Judge Richard Waldron.  This was the charge:

“You, Edward Gove shall be drawn on a hedge to the place of execution, and there you shall be hanged by ye neck, and when yet living be cut down and cast on the ground, and your bowels shall be taken out of your belly, and your privy members cut off and burnt while you are yet alive, your head shall be cut off and your body divided into four parts, and your head and quarters shall be placed where our Sovereign Lord the King pleaseth to appoint.  And the Lord have mercy on your soul”

His desperate wife presented this petition:

The wretchd & Deplorable Condition of her selfe and family, but chiefely her husband, who by means of a distemper of Lunacy or some such like, which he have benn Subject unto (by times) from his youth, and yet is untill now (as his mother was before him) (though at some times seemingly very Rationall) which have occationed him Irationally and evily to demeane himselfe (by means of some unhappy provocation) to such actions whereby he have incured unto himselfe the Sentence of Death; past upon him by yor Maties Court in the same Province, with Loss of all his Estate; and is now sent over into England to attend yor Maties further pleasure therein, on whose Royall favour only now depends all possibility of Releise. And for as much as he never had the least expression of disloyalty or Disafection to yor Maties person, Crown & Dignety or Interest neither then, nor at any other time that wee know of nor nothing tending that way (when Rationall) but the Contrary, as he would have pleaded at his tryall had be been himselfe and doubt not but he would upon tht accompt now begg for his own life either to the Honorable Govt here or of yor Royall Majties there, but he being not capable of so doeing.
Your most deploreable Supplicant Doe in most Humble wise Pray your Sacred Majties favourable admitance of her humble Request for the life of her said Husband (by your Majties Gratious pardon) or what way soever it shall seem good to yor Majties, yor poore petitioner haveing no knowlidge of Law, of the privilidges that a Subject may plead, and yor Majties poore Petitioner, and all her Distressed family, Shall as in duty they are bound ever pray for yor Majties long life and
Happy Reigne.

No New Hampshire authorities wanted to carry out the sentence, and Mrs. Gove’s petition was ignored (yet survived for us to find in the records!).   On 2 April 1683 he was put on the ship Richard to England and sent to prison in the Tower of London, where it was assumed his sentence would be carried out by the royal executioners.  During his time in prison, King Charles II died and King James II ascended the throne.  Gove successfully petitioned the new king to pardon him on 26 August 1685, but he was not released.  On 12 April 1686 the king sent a letter to the President and Council of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, stating that Gove had been pardoned. 

In the meantime, the unpopular Royal Governor Cranfield tried to continue his plans in New Hampshire.  The sentence Gove had received did not push the people into submission, but made them more rebellious.  The new King removed Cranfield, and he was escorted to the Massachusetts border with a rope around his neck.   England sent him to Barbados to serve as a customs official.

Gove returned to Hampton, New Hampshire, where he died in 1691.  Most of his land was returned to him, which he left to his sons in his will.

Edward Gove is buried at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Hampton.   He holds the distinction of being the only New England colonist convicted of treason and sentenced to be drawn and quartered.  This incident is known in New Hampshire history as “Gove’s Rebellion”. 

For the truly curious:

History of Hampton, by Joseph Dow, 1893 (available online at Google Books and at the Hampton, NH Lane Library website )

“Hampton’s Gove – Ahead of his Time”, by Doug Gove, Rockingham County Newspaper, July 8, 1988, transcribed for the Hampton, NH Lane Library website 

Biography of Edward Gove, an excerpt from The History and Genealogy the American Family of Gove, By William Henry Gove, 1922 transcribed for the Hampton, NH Lane Library website

For more information about Royal Governor Edward Cranfield, see The History of New Hampshire by Jeremy Belkap, 1813, Volume II, page 369 (available online at Google Books)

The magistrate Richard Waldron was a notoriously cruel man in New Hampshire history.  Click this link to see a blog post about another sentence he issued against the Quakers, and how he died at the hands of the Native people he had abused during his time in office:

A few years ago I helped my Godfather with his Gove lineage.  His mother was a Gove.  We had a lot of fun tracing this line, and looking for a reprint or original copy of the Gove compiled genealogy listed above.  I previously blogged about his Gove family in Nahant, Massachusetts at this link:

Here is his descent from Edward Gove:

Generation 1:  Edward Gove, born about 1635 in England, died 29 May 1691 in Hampton; married about 1660 to Hannah Partridge, daughter of William Partridge and Ann Spicer.  She was born about 1638.

Generation 2: Ebenezer Gove, born 23 June 1671 in Hampton, died 16 April 1758 in Hampton; married on 20 December 1692 in Hampton to Judith Sanborn, daughter of John Sanborn and Judith Coffin.  She was born 8 August 1675 and died about 1760.

Generation 3: Edward Gove, born 29 May 1696 in Hampton Falls, died 10 July 1765 in Hampton; married on 18 June 1728 to Mary Moulton, daughter of Daniel Moulton and Mary Unknown.  She was born 16 December 1706 and died 20 October 1793 in Hampton Falls.

Generation 4: Winthrop Gove, born 3 November 1732 in Hampton, died 3 June 1808 in Hampton; married 3 June 1754 to Elizabeth Ring, daughter of Jonathan Ring and Esther Batchelder.

Generation 5: Levi Gove, born 29 June 1759 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, died in Seabrook, New Hampshire; married Mary Chase, daughter of Charles Chase and Mary Griffith.  She was born 19 April 1760 in Hampton, died 19 September 1852 in Seabrook. 

Generation 6:  William Gove, born 15 February 1794 in Seabrook, New Hampshire, died 1834 in Seabrook; married in 1815 to Elizabeth Chase, daughter of Aquila Chase and Anna Moulton.  She was born 28 November 1796 in Seabrook, and died 1882 in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Generation 7: Worthen Augustus Gove, born 12 July 1819 in Seabrook, died 28 March 1885 in Nahant, Massachusetts; married on 15 January 1836 in Lynn to Emeline A. Spencer, daughter of William Spencer and Mary Gale Homan.  She was born 12 April 1819 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died 9 February 1897 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Generation 8: Charles Edward Gove, born 23 July 1839 in Lynn, died 26 January 1920 in Nahant; married Elvira E. Whitney, daughter of Charles Whitney and Adeline Strong.  She was born 26 November 1833 in Dublin, New Hampshire and died 15 April 1901 in Nahant.

Generation 9: George Alvah Gove, born 17 September 1870 in Nahant, died 1945 in Beverly, Massachusetts; married on 16 April 1894 to Frances L. Harris, sister to the wife of George’s brother Charles.  She was born 12 April 1873 in New London, Connecticut, died 1962 in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Generation 10: Grace Mildred Gove, born 18 October 1897 in Nahant, died 18 March 1834 in Beverly; married Erwin McKenney as his first wife.

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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