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The story of the Gould family of Topsfield, Massachusetts is also a well documented one. From the hanging of John Gould, to the Salem Witch Trials, the Gould family's history is rich and colorful.

Zaccheus Gould was born in 1589 in England. In a deposition he made on March 26, 1661, he stated that he was 72 years old. He lived at Hemel Hempstead and Great Missenden. He was married to Phebe Deacon.

Zaccheus and Phebe had the following children; Phebe (bapt 1620-aft 1691) who married Deacon Thomas Perkins in 1640, Mary (bapt 1621-) who married John Redington of Topsfield, Martha (bapt 1623-1699) who married John Newmarch of Ipswich, Priscilla (-1663) who married John Wildes, and John (1635-1709/10) who married Sarah Baker in 1660. Phebe, Mary, and Martha were all baptized at Hemel Hempstead, England.

Zaccheus came to New England around 1638. His brother Jeremy who settled in Rhode Island in 1638 and a number of other relatives preceded him. These included Nathan who settled in Salisbury in 1650, Sarah, and Zaccheus. These three were children of his brother John Gould of King’s Langley, England.

Zaccheus first settled in Weymouth, Mass. where he bought land from his brother, Jeremy, in 1639. He was also the overseer of Henry Russell's will. Henry died in 1639/40. Jeremy Gould was also a witness to this will.

From 1639 to 1644, Zaccheus lived in Lynn, Mass. where he owned a mill on the Saugus River. He also leased 300 acres of Salem land from John Humphrey. The lease went into effect on September 29, 1640 and the farm was called "Plain Farm". This lease called for an annual rent of 400 bushels of rye, 300 of wheat, 200 of barley along with 8 oxen, 5 cows, 2 heifers, 4 calves and 2 mares. At the same time, he also leased another farm, the "ponds" from Mr. Humphrey. This land called for rent of 160 pounds the first year and 200 pounds the next. The rent was to be paid in the form of farm goods.

In 1640, Zaccheus petitioned the General Court for relief from militia training. The petition follows;

"To the right worshipful Governor, Council and Assistants and the rest of the General Court now assembled, October 7, 1640.

The humble petition of Zaccheus Gould of Lynn, husbandman, in behalf of himself and all other husbandman in the country—

Sheweth that wheras Husbandry and tillage much concern the good of this Commonwealth, and your petitioners have undertaken the managing and tilling of divers farms in this country and sowing of English Corn, their servants are oftentimes drawn from their work to train, in seed time, hay time and harvest, to the great discouragement and damage of your petitioners, and your petitioner the said Zaccheus Gould for himself saith that for one day’s training this year he was much damnified in his hay. And forasmuch as fishermen upon just grounds are exempted from training because their trade is also for the Commonwealth,

Your petioners humbly pray that this Court will be pleased to take the premises into their grave consideration and thereupon to give order for the encouragement of your petitioners who are husbandmen employed about English grain, that they and their servants be exempted from ordinary trainings in seed time, hat time and harvest. And your petitioners shall as their duty binds them pray etc."

The General Court agreed with this petition and gave much discretion to the local officials for the "avoiding of loss of time and the opportunities of the furtherance of husbandry."

By 1644, Zaccheus was living in Ipswich, in the section now occupied by Topsfield. Zaccheus' son-in-law stated in 1665 that "about 21 years before, William Paine sold land to Zaccheus Gould, where his house now stands."

In 1644, Zaccheus petitioned the General Court to have the section of Ipswich he lived incorporated as a separate town from Ipswich. The General Court agreed to this on October 18, 1650;

"In answer to the request of Zaccheus Gould and William Howard of Topsfield, the Court doth grant that Topsfield shall henceforth be a town, and have power within themselves to order all civil affairs, as other towns have."

Zaccheus Gould, William Paine and Brian Hamilton sent the General Court a petition concerning the name of their new town.

"We humbly Intreate this honored Court that you wold be pleased to bestowe a name upon our village at the new medowes at Ipswich which wee suppose may bee an incoragment to others to Come to live amongst us: and also a meanes to further a ministry amongst us, wee think that hempsteed will be a fit name if the Court please to gratify us herewith.'

The General Court replied;

"This dept. have granted this Pet. wth Refference to the Consent of or honoured magists."

Wm Torrey by order &c

The magtrs (upon conference wth som of the principall [persons] interested) doe thinke it fitt it should be called Toppesfeild weh they referre to the consent of ye brn the Deptyes.

Jo. Winthrop:Gov

This change in name was probably due to the influence of one of the governor’s assistants, Samuel Symonds, who was from Topsfield, England.

In 1651, Zaccheus took the oath of Fidelity but he never became a freeman.

Zaccheus appeared in Ipswich Court on a number of occasions. On January 26, Richard Shatswell brought 1650/51 a complaint against him. Shatswell claimed that he took one of his mares that had strayed from his farm. The court found for Shatswell and Zaccheus had to return the mare. A related suit involved a charge of slander brought against Joseph Fowler by Zaccheus. Apparently, Fowler had called Zaccheus a horsethief. The court awarded Zaccheus damages of 10 pounds.

On April 24, 1656 Zaccheus was arraigned, in the Ipswich Court, for absence from meeting on the Lord’s Day.

In 1659 on March 29, Zaccheus was brought before the Ipswich Court on charges that he had disturbed the church services. He was accused of having "sat down on the end of the table about which the minister and scribe sit, with his hat full on his head and his back toward all the rest. Although spoken to by the minister and others he altered not his posture. He spoke audibly when the minister was speaking" Witnesses against him in this case were Captain William Perkins and Isaac Cummings. Isaac Cummings appears to have been involved in a number of court cases against Zaccheus. In this case the court ordered that Zaccheus be "admonished".

In another case, Zaccheus Gould was found guilty of entertaining Quakers and fined 3 pounds. His nephew, Daniel Gould, a recent convert of the Quakers, was sentenced to be whipped with 30 stripes and to depart the town within five days. If he failed to depart, he would be placed in jail. This shows how serious the community took the "approved" religion and how they treated dissenters. Zaccheus himself seemed to be fairly liberal about religious matters, being friendly both to the Baptists and the Quakers, neither of whom were looked upon with favor by the prevailing religion.

This fine was later remitted in the spring of 1660. This was apparently because Zaccheus' property had sustained some serious losses due to a fire.

The first house built on the farm, purchased from William Paine, was a garrison or blockhouse designed as a place of refugee against Indian raids.

Zaccheus died between March 30, 1688 and November 13, 1688. He was buried on land near the town meeting house. At the time of his death, he was one of the largest landholders in the area, having amassed 3000 acres in the area, which was then Rowley Village and later Boxford.

John Gould was born in 1635. On October 12, 1660, he married Sarah the daughter of John and Elizabeth Baker. They had eight children; John (1662-1724) who married Phebe French, Sarah Bixby (1664-1723), Thomas (1666-1752), Samuel (1669/70-1724), Zaccheus (1672-1739), Priscilla Curtice (1674-1715), Joseph (1677-1753), and Mary (1681-1689). He and Sarah were married for almost 50 years, she dying in 1708/9.

John Gould was a prominent member of the Topsfield community. He served as a selectman for a number of years including a stretch of 14 straight years.

John became involved with a plan to create a foundry where iron could be smelted. In 1668, a company, The Iron Works at Rowley Village, was started on land owned by John. After about a dozen years the foundry was abandoned and John became owner of the abandoned land and works. The house that was on the property he later sold to his son Samuel who lived there for years. The house lasted until the 19th century.

In 1671, John was in court because of a long-standing problem he had had with his minister. It appears that the minister, Rev. Thomas Gilbert, had a problem with drink. In 1670, he was charged with intemperance. He was described as going "into the pulpit in a disordered state, which he had betrayed by the confusion of his thoughts and the clipping of his words, and especially by forgetting the order of the exercises". For the Gould’s this came to a head in 1671 with the following court cases;

"Mr. Thomas Gilbert v. Ensign John Gould, for Sary Gould’s defaming him. Verdict for defendant.

Also an action for assault. Verdict for plaintiff. Fine 20s.

Also another action of slander, for saying he was a lying in the pulpet. Verdict for defendant.

Ensign John Gould in behalf of his wife Sarah, v. Mr. Thomas Gilbert. Action of slander. Verdict for plaintiff. 40s."

In 1675-6 John Gould served in the Narragansett campaign. He was in the "Three-County Troop" under the command of Captain Hutchinson and later under Captain Wheeler. Later, John became a Lieutenant and commanded the Topsfield company of militia.

In 1685, King James II appointed Edmund Andros as the Royal Governor of Mass. This appointment led to serious unrest. John Gould became involved in the controversy and with the help of some old enemies of the Gould's was in serious trouble. A Warrant was issued for his arrest:

"Case of John Gould, charged with Treason Boston, Sc.

To the Keeper of his Majesty's Jail in Boston.

The President of his Majesty's Territory & Dominion of New England, with the Deputy President and others of his Majesty's Council, in Council assembled, the 5th day of August, 1686, having received information upon the oaths of ISAAC CUMMINGS, JOHN WILD, & JOHN HOW, of several treasonable and seditious words, spoken by JOHN GOULD of Topsfield, against our Soverign Lord the King, &c. These are, therefore in his Majesty's name to require you to take into your custody the body of the said JOHN GOULD, and him safely keep until he shall be delivered by due course of law, and for so doing this shall be your warrant, given at the Council House in Boston, the said 5th day of August, Anno Dom.1686, Annoque RR. Jacobi Dei Gratia Angliae &c,--- secundi

Vera Copia Ed. Randolph, Sec.

John Gould petitioned the Council and the reply was;

By the President and Council of His Majesty's Territory and Dominion of New England

Upon reading the petition of John Gould, now prisoner in the jail of Boston, desiring liberty of the Prison yard to walk in, by reason of his indisposition of body. It is ordered That the Prison keeper do permit the said John Gould, to have the benifit of the Prison yard, to walk in during his sickness (the keeper taking care the said Gould make not an escape) till further order.

Ed. Randolph, Sec'ry

Another document read;

Council House, Boston August 12, 1686

New England, Sc.

Rex contra Gould, in Sessione Speciali, 19th August , 1686

The Jurors for our Soverign Lord, the King, do upon their oaths present that JOHN GOULD, SEN, otherwise called LIEUT. GOULD, of Topsfield, in the County of Essex, husbandman, by force and arms, that is to say, between the 23d and 30th of May, in the second year of the reign of our Soverign Lord &c, being evilly affested against our most sacred Lord the King, aforesaid, his supreme and natural Lord, and devising with all his might, and intending to disturb the peace and common tranquillity of this his Majesty's Territory & Dominion of New England, as the same is now settled by his Majesty's Royal Commission under his great Seal of England, and the introducing again of the late Government, dissolved by law, at a Riotous Muster of armed men gathered together by him, the aforesaid JOHN GOULD as their pretended officer at Topsfield aforesaid, in the year aforesaid, he the said JOHN GOULD as aforesaid, then and there being, did against the duty of his Allegience, and in terror of his Majesty's liege people, maliciously, wickedly, seditously, treasonably and advisedly speak and utter these malicious treasonable and seditious speeches following, viz: If the Country was of his mind, they would keep Salem Court with the former Magistrates, and if the Country would go the rounds, he would make the first, and would go & keep Salem Court, and would have his company down to do it. And further, he, the said JOHN GOULD as aforesaid, on or about the 11th day of July, at Topsfield aforesaid, in the County aforesaid, in the year aforesaid, Maliciously, advisedly and treasonably, did say and utter these malicious, treasonable and seditious words following, viz: That he was under another Governmant, and had sworn to another Government, and did not know this government, and this in manifest contempt of his majesty's laws and Government here in New England, to the evil and pernicious example of all others in the like case offending, and against the peace of our said Soverign Lord the King, his Crown and dignity.





John Gould decided to make amends with the government and wrote the government a petition expressing his sorrow at the whole affair. The governments reply was;

By the President & Council of His Majesty's Territory of New England

Upon reading the petition of JOHN GOULD, and considering the poverty of his family, it is ordered, That upon the payment of 50 pounds in money, and charges of Prosecution the remainder of his fine be respited, and he be released of his imprisionment, he giving bonds for his good behavior, according to order of Court.

Aug. 25th, 1686 Ed. Randolph, Secretary

This unrest came to a head in April of 1689 when news of the landing of the Prince of Orange in England, became known. They rose in insurrection and asked the former governor Bradstreet to face Andros. Bradstreet demanded that Andros surrender the government and Boston's fortifications. Andros refused and took refuge in the fort where he was soon forced to surrender. He was imprisoned in the same jail John Gould had been in. In the following July, Andos was sent back to England and Bradstreet elected governor, a position he served until 1692 when Sir William Phils arrived with a new Charter.

According to Daniel Gould, John's great-grandson, John

" was a high liberty man. He lost his commission as Captain of the company, under the tyrannical administration of Governor Sir Edmund Andros for saying at the head of the company that ' if they were all of his mind, they would go and mob the governor out of Boston.' Information of which was given to Governor Andros by one JOHN HOW of Topsfield, who it appears was as great a tyrant as the governor himself; and also was an envious and self-conceited man, so that when he was asked by the Governor, who should be appointed in the place of Captain Gould, answered, 'The eyes of the people are upon myself, Sir!' Accordingly Capt. Gould was displaced and said How was appointed in his room. But Captain How, in his turn was himself afterwards deposed, upon the revolution which took place in England, and Mary and William ascended the British throne in 1692. And Captain Gould was again commissioned as captain of the company in August 1696, by William Stoughton Esq, Lieut. Governor, and at this time Commander in Chief."

Apparently this feud between Gould and How started about 1675. The Rev. Joseph Capen of Topsfield describes how it started;

"June 13, 1692. A church meeting was at my house which was to see if they could put an end to the difference that has been between Lieut. Gould and Capt. How and Jacob Towne, senr. Capt. How did then take some blame to himself with respect to an oath which he had taken against Lieut. Gould, about 16 or 17 years before, about Lieut. Gould his not restraining the Indians that were about his house. Capt. How did own that, although the substance of the oath was true, yet being not so safely worded as might have been, was sorry that he had not perused that said oath better, before he took it. Also that he was heartly sorry that he had been an occasion of so much trouble to Lieut. Gould in Sir Edmund’s time, as also that he had spoken publickly, in the Court at Boston, anything that might be taken to Reflect on the town of Topsfield, in saying because he was for Resignation he was so maligned that he was afraid of his life, although he intended it not as to the Town in general, but 2 or 3 particular persons.

Ensign Towne that was also complained of for signing false things to the Court against Lieut. Gould being made choice of for a captain, Ensign Towne did own that whereas he had said in the writing that there were but 27 votes for Lieut. Gould, and several of them boys, and so not legal voters, as also0 that the major part of the Town would attest to those things, in those two expressions he owned his error in subscribing to, whereas he did not so intend or understand and that for the future he would be more cautious to what he did set his hands. The Church did then upon Capt. How and Ensign Towne their owning these things, in which the church did apprehend them to be blameworthy, the church did then by their votes particularly declare their satisfaction with them.

And at the same time Lieut. Gould being called to an account for his withdrawing from the sacrament so long, looking on these things which he objected against Capt. How as being no grounds to withdraw his communion from the rest of the church, he did so far fall under it as to express sorrow for any offence in the matter which he had given the church. Whereupon the church passed a vote for to express their willingness that he should again partake with them at the Lord’s table.

Also at the same time, Lieut. Gould and Capt. How, in token of their mutual forgiveness as to whatever had been previous between tem, did take each other by the hand, promising better for the future. Also Ensign Towne and Lieut. Gould did the like."

The original dispute arose over a group of Indians who were encamped near John Gould's house. John did not feel that they were hostile, and allowed them to stay despite that fact that his neighbor, Capt. How, wanted them out of the area and entreated Gould to drive them off. Gould laughed at this suggestion and refused. Howe took this as a personal; affront and the enmity lasted between them for years.

Meanwhile John Gould resumed his position of esteem and leadership in Topsfield. He was again elected as selectman and in 1690 chosen to be the deputy of Topsfield to the General Court. John Gould died at the age of 75.

Thomas Gould was born in 1666. He married Mary Yates of Harwich on December 2, 1700. They had nine children; Thomas (1701-1771) who married Mary Gould, Jacob (1702/3-1787) who married Dorothy Goodridge, Deborah (1704-1706), Deborah (1707-1767) who married Joseph Page, Simon (1709/10-1803) who married Jane Palmer, Mercy (1711/12-1785) who married Nathaniel Page, Yates (1713/4-1736), Benjamin (1716-1746) who married Esther Pierce, Nathaniel (1718-1747) who was killed by Indians in Charlestown, NH.

Thomas was a weaver, as was his brother John.

His first wife died before 1728/9 which is when he married his second wife, Mary Dorman, the widow of Joseph Stanley. Thomas died on June 29, 1752.

Deborah married Joseph Page on December 3, 1730. Joseph was one of the original settlers of Lunenburg. Later they moved to Rindge, NH. She died in 1767.

Sources; "The Family of Zaccheus Gould of Topsfield" by Benjamin Gould (Nichols Pub.,Lynn,Ma. 1895. Ancestry and Genealogy of Thomas Grover, by Joel P. Grover . Privately Published. Los Angeles, California. 1959.

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