Edward Gove –Patriot and Assemblyman

52 in 52:  Week 3

Today’s blog post will go way, way back to focus on my 8-times-great grandfather, Edward Gove.  For family members following along, this is on Elmer Chase’s side of the family.  Edward Gove’s great granddaughter married into the Chase line.

Edward Gove was the son of John Gove.  John was born in 1604 in England.  He died in 1647/8 in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Edward was born in London, England, in 1630.  Edward arrived in the Colonies with his parents and his siblings, and they settled in Charlestown in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1647.  John Gove died in Charlestown on 28 Feb 1647/8, and his will was proved on 13 April 1648.  His will reads,

The last will and testament of John Gove of Charlestown being in perfect memory, wherein I desire to comit my soule to the Lord my body to the ground, and my estate as followeth

First, I do give and bequeath with my wife’s full consent my daughter Mary Gove to Ralph Mousall and his wife, as their owne child forever.  I do give unto the said Ralph  Mousall a silver porringer and  five pounds out of the house I bought of Goodman Larkin in Charlestowne to bring up ye child.

Also, I give to my two sonnes, John Gove and Edward Gove fifty shillings a peece to be paid out of the brass that is in the house or out of the brass that is to come out of England by Mr. John Allen and this to be delievered in to the hand of the said Ralph Mousall to be disposed for their best advantage.

And for the rest of my goods, I give with all my debts the other half of my house to my wife she paying what I owe to others and the rest to be for her owne for ever and hereto I set my hand.  JOHN GOVE

Edward Gove sued his mother and stepfather in order to obtain the 50 shillings that was owed to him, and the issue was resolved on 5 December 1655 when Edward’s brother, John, agreed to pay the 50 shillings on behalf of their mother and stepfather.

Edward married Hannah.  Depending on the source, her last name was either Titcomb or Partridge.  Edward was a large land holder, and his many transactions of buying and selling land in Salisbury can be tracked in the Norfolk Registry of Deeds between the years 1660 and 1680.

According to the “Gove Book:  History and Genealogy of the American Family of Gove”, Edward Gove was a “strenuous man, and frank even to bluntness.  He did not refrain from forceful language and personal assault and was before the quarterly court several times for such offenses.”

In 1622, Capt. John Mason, a London merchant, was granted a Royal charter for the Province of Maine.  This included New Hampshire; however, Capt. Mason resided in London, and despite sending some supplies and settlers, the land was left largely unattended.  In 1629, several settlers purchased the same tract of land in New Hampshire from the natives and proceeded to build homes.

Capt. Mason died around 1635, and it wasn’t until 1652 that an attorney for Mason’s heirs arrived from England to claim the property for them.  A court case was brought against the homeowners on the land.  The court ruled that the homes were within the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and not within the boundaries of Mason’s charter.  The attorney attempted to re-establish a claim or to compromise with the settlers, but he was unsuccessful, so he returned to England.

In 1675, an attorney for King Charles II gave legal rights to the Province of New Hampshire to Robert Mason, and a royal decree in 1679 ordered the Colony of Massachusetts Bay to stop exercising jurisdiction over this territory, and New Hampshire was made a royal province.  A president and a council were appointed by the king with a general assembly to be chosen by New Hampshire citizens.  Edward Gove was elected as a representative from Hampton.

In 1680, Robert Mason made plans to visit New Hampshire.  His goal was to collect rent from the settlers, but they refused to pay him rent or to sign his leases.  They claimed that they had been in peaceful possession of the land for 50 years, and they had endured hardship and great expense to make the settlements flourish.  When he was unable to persuade the settlers, Mason next tried to intimidate them.  He threatened to sell their homes.

At a town meeting in 1681, Edward Gove was one of the men appointed to prepare the settler’s case to present to the council.  The council upheld the settler’s claims and prohibited Mason from proceeding with his efforts to collect money from them.  Mason returned to England and appealed to the king.  In 1682, King Charles II appointed Edward Cranfield as lieutenant-governor of the Province in New Hampshire.  The king was promised twenty per cent of all rents collected.

Cranfield arrived in New Hampshire in 1682.  Using his commission as governor, he dropped two of the citizens appointed to the Assembly and suspended two  others.  In 1683, Cranfield completely dissolved the assembly when they would not enact laws that they knew would not be popular with the citizens of New Hampshire.

Cranfield ordered the citizens to sign Mason’s leases within the month.  Few signed, instead asking if the matter could be presented to the king.  Cranfield refused and brought suit against the settlers.

Edward Gove was a large land owner and was considered a “leading man” in the settlement.  He made up his mind to resolve the settlers’ grievances by any means necessary.  He convinced others to join him in doing whatever was necessary to secure their assembly.  Cranfield was aware of what Gove was up to.  He sent constables to arrest Gove and ordered the militia to be ready.

Gove expected an arrest attempt, and assumed that the settlers would be ready to defend him when it happened.  On 27 January 1683, after drinking heavily in Exeter, Edward Gove and twelve men, all armed with swords and guns, rode to Hampton.  Upon their arrival, they discovered that no support was waiting for them, so they surrendered to the waiting authorities.

Cranfield convened a special court five days after the arrests.  (As a side note, Thomas Marston, William Sanborn, John Moulton, and Nathaniel Batchelor, also my ancestors, were members of the jury.)  After hearing from several witnesses, an indictment was handed down, which read in part that Gove and the others were  guilty of “having withdrawn their allegiance and obedience to our Sovereign Lord ye King.”  A pardon was granted to all of the participants except Edward Gove.  Gove was sentenced to be hanged, beheaded, and drawn and quartered.  His estate was forfeited to the crown, leaving his family destitute.

As he was already unpopular in the settlement, Cranfield did not want to carry out Gove’s death sentence, so Cranfield sent him to England to have the sentence carried out there. On 6 June 1683, Edward Gove was imprisoned in irons in the Tower of London.  Efforts were immediately begun to seek his release.  Gove’s wife, Hannah, wrote a petition to the king explaining that her family was suffering under “wretched and deplorable conditions” and that her husband suffered from bouts of “distemper of lunacy”.

Gove was removed from his irons on 28 May 1684, and he wrote a letter to his friends in New Hampshire.

Worthy gentlemen of New England and other good friends.

Whereas the King’s Majesty hath been graciously pleased to grant me mercy in sparing me my life and releasing me from the daily burden of my irons hath also ordered me my liberty in the Tower up on security which I hope to obtain very soonly. 

Now my worthy good friends, I humbly beg your kindness to help me at this juncture of time, believing every friend considering my deplorable condition to bestow your small mite upon me in so doing I hope it may put me in a capacity of serving my wife and children.  And if it please the Almity good God to make able, I will pay you again.  Who am Gentlemen your humble servant to command, EDWARD GOVE

Once Gove was removed from the settlement, Cranfield’s administration became more oppressive.  Court costs were raised, and he and his council assumed all of the legislative power.  The people were horrified at Gove’s sentence, and they wanted vengeance.  In April, 1686, Cranfield was removed by King James II.  The king also sent a letter to Council of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay stating that he had pardoned Edward Gove and authorizing the council to restore Gove’s estate.

Gove returned to New Hampshire.  He died in Hampton on 29 July 1691.  Edward Gove is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Hampton.  The Gove Family Association has placed a marker in the cemetery that reads,

Edward Gove – Patriot and Assemblyman – 1627 – 1692Convicted of high treason for attempting to incite a rebellion in 1683 against King Charles II of England.  Sentenced to be hanged and later pardoned by King James II.

Edward Gove’s pardon from King James II
Located at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Hampton, New Hampshire, the inscription reads “HERE LYES Y BODY OF EDWARD GOVE AGED 55 YEARS DYED MAY Ye 29, 1691
Edward Gove Monument

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