William Goffe

Infobox MP
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name = William Goffe
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birth_date = CIR 1605
birth_place = England
death_date = CIR 1679
death_place = New England, United States
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William Goffe (1605?–1679?) was an English parliamentarian. He was son of Stephen Goffe, puritan rector of Stanmer in Sussex, and brother of Stephen Goffe (Gough), royalist agent.

He began life as an apprentice to a London salter, a zealous parliamentarian. By his marriage with Frances, daughter of General Edward Whalley, he became connected with Oliver Cromwell's family and one of his most faithful followers. He was imprisoned in 1642 for his share in the petition to give the control of the militia to the parliament.

On the outbreak of the English Civil War he joined the army and became captain in Colonel Harley's regiment of the New Model Army in 1645.

He was a member of the deputation which on July 6 1647 brought up the charge against the eleven members. He was active in bringing King Charles I to trial and signed the death warrant. In 1649, he received an honorary M.A. at Oxford.

He distinguished himself at the Battle of Dunbar, commanding a regiment there and at the Battle of Worcester. He assisted in the expulsion of Barebone's parliament in 1653 and took an active part in the suppression of Penruddock's rising in July 1654. In October 1655 during the Rule of the Major-Generals was appointed major-general for Berkshire, Sussex and Hampshire. Meanwhile he had been elected member for Yarmouth in Norfolk in the parliament of 1654 and for Hampshire in that of 1656. He supported the proposal to bestow a royal title upon Oliver Cromwell, who greatly esteemed him, and was included in the newly-constituted House of Lords. He obtained Lambert's place as major-general of the Foot and was even thought of as a fit successor to Oliver Cromwell.

As a member of the committee of nine appointed in June 1658 on public affairs, he was witness to the protector's appointment of Richard Cromwell as his successor. He supported the latter during his brief tenure of power and his fall involved his own loss of influence. In November 1659 he took part in the futile mission sent by the army to Monck in Scotland. In 1664, During the Restoration, he escaped with his father-in-law, General Edward Whalley, to Massachusetts.

The two fled for New Haven, Connecticut when their safety was compromised, where John Dixwell, also condemned as a regicide, was living under an assumed name. They were housed by Rev. John Davenport. After a reward was offered for their arrest, they pretended to flee to New York, but instead returned by a roundabout way to New Haven. In May, the Royal order for their arrest reached Boston, and was sent by the Governor to William Leete, Governor of the New Haven Colony, residing at Guilford. Leete delayed the King's messengers, allowing Goffe and Whalley to disappear. They spent much of the summer in Judges' Cave at West Rock.

Letters to Dr. Increase Mather and others give hints as to Goffe's whereabouts, but very little is clear, perhaps due to his desire not to be captured and executed. He appears to have passed the rest of his life in exile in New England, separated from his wife and children, under one or more assumed names. Tradition has him sheltering for a decade at Hadley, Massachusetts, reappearing, according to legend, to lead the town's defense during King Philip's War, giving rise to the legend of the Angel of Hadley. He died about 1679.

The three regicides are commemorated by three intersecting streets in New Haven ("Dixwell Avenue", "Whalley Avenue", and "Goffe Street"), and in some neighboring Connecticut towns as well.

Goffe's political aims appear not to have gone much beyond fighting "to pull down Charles and set up Oliver"; and he was no doubt a man of deep religious feeling, who acted throughout according to a strict sense of duty as he conceived it.



*Ezra Stiles's "History of Three of the Judges of Charles I, Whalley, Goffe, Dixwell", Hartford, 1794.

External links

* [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199899/ldparlac/ldrpt66.htm Charles' death warrant] .
* [http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/sgml/moa-idx?notisid=AFJ3026-0015-31 The Regicides in New England] , by Frederick Hull Cogswell
* [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/marshall/country/country-III-31.html The Hunt for the Regicides] , Chapter 31 of “This Country Of Ours", by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

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