Select Gould Miscellany

Here are some Gould stories and accounts over the years:

John Golde and Seaborough

The story and registers of the little parish church of St. John's in Seaborough have been transcribed into a 160 page book by Peter Benson, a local resident and one-time churchwarden. 

A church building has stood on the site in one form or another since 1415.  The donor of the land was a descendant of John Golde, the crusader.  The church contains a rare early stone effigy of a 13th century crusader which is believed to be John Golde.  The register records date from 1562 (although most Goulds had left the area by then).

Dorchester and Goulds

The town is Dorchester, a typical English county town of middling size and unremarkable achievements.  But on August 6, 1613 much of the town was destroyed in a great conflagration which its inhabitants regarded as a "fire from heaven."  Over the next twenty years, at a time of increasing political and religious turmoil all over Europe, Dorchester became the most religiously radical town in England.

David Underdown traces in his book Fire From Heaven, published in 1992, the way in which a tolerant, paternalist Elizabethan town oligarchy was quickly replaced by a group of men who had a vision of godly community in which power was to be exercised according to religious commitment rather than by wealth or rank.  

The author includes the following Goulds who were part of this transformation:

  • Christopher Gould  
  • James Gould the elder
  • James Gould the younger
  • Joan Gould
  • John Gould
  • Katherine Gould
  • Margery Gould
  • Nicholas Gould 

Reader Feedback - Goulds in the West Country

For your information Goulds in Somerset and the west country can be derived from the name Guiff (this spelling may not be completely correct) and were of French Huguenot descent.  Many of them were in the lace trade. In the north I believe the name became Gough.

Alex Gould (

The Goulds of Woodbury Hill

The Goulds of Woodbury Hill in Dorset were carpenters and builders for several generations, beginning in the 1720’s.  They kept a family notebook over this time.  Early records went as follows:  

John Gould, the son of Edward Gould, departed this life Dec. 19, 1719                                           - 2 or 3 days before St Thomas Day.  In 1711 he had been 67 years old.  
Ten houses burned at Woodbury Hill in 1723.
Henry Gould departed this life on April 16, 1730 upon a Thursday about 3 o’clock in the morning.       He was buried on April 19 and we paid John Ash for the coffin 2s. Od (the boards were my own).”  

The bulk of the Goulds' work seems to have been in the provision and maintenance of semi-permanent covered stalls in connection with the annual fair on Woodbury Hill.

Some local events were recorded:

"1742, July 25 on Sunday, St. James’ Day.  Will Rutter, John Baskom, and James Harris broke our window of 10-12 panes about 4-5 o’ clock in the afternoon.  Will Rutter had offered Harris to give him a J to break our window.
1790, May 19.  A mob of resolute fellows rose up at Bere Regis. They went to Kingston and they were the first men to go with them down the vale.  A very scandalous action.
1826, June 12.  There were some horse soldiers in Bere, some of whom broke into to our house on Woodbury Hill where the strong beer was.  But the officer put all things in place again.”

The book ended up around 1880 with John Gould, who had been MP for Wareham and lived on Woodbury Hill.  By that time he was old and quite blind.  He asked that the book be deposited at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, which it was.

Daniel Gould From Rhode Island

There are two accounts of Daniel Gould, one from family sources and the other from a reported source at the time.

Daniel Gould was a Quaker and a sturdy adherent of the principles of the Friends Society.  In 1651 he was one of a party of Quakers who were scoffed and mocked at by a mob at the Charlestown ferry.  He with the others received thirty stripes across his bare back, was cast into prison, and made to lie with his bleeding back on the bare boards.  The only crimes of the sufferers were that they "were Friends in the religious beliefs."

In 1659, the Rev. Daniel Gould of Rhode Island is recorded as escorting and consoling Mary Dyer, Marmaluke Stevenson, and William Robinson in Boston.  They were to be hanged for their crimes of missionary work within the Massachusetts colony.  Mary got reprieve, Daniel himself received 30 lashes, but Marmaluke and William were hanged.

Reader Feedback - Goulds in Massachusetts

I'm descended from Jarvis Gold of Hawkhurst in Kent who arrived in Plymouth on the Elizabeth in 1635 with his brother Edward.  They were granted land in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Edward stayed and married a daughter of Peter Hobart.  Jarvis sold his land to Thomas Lincoln (from whom came Abraham Lincoln) and moved to Boston where he died in 1651.  He left one surviving son, John, aged 10, who was taken in by Robert Crossman and moved to Taunton.  

These lines of Gold/Goold/Gould were original settlers in Union, Connecticut (Nathaniel Goold marrying Mary Makepeace there) and then in Westminster, Vermont (John and brother William were the sons of Nathaniel and ran the Whig tavern there). Son Jonathan Gould of Westminster moved to Ohio as an old man with his son Frederick Gould in the 1830’s where the Goulds have continued to live.  

Meanwhile Jarvis’ brother, Edward, remained in Hingham.  

Chris Gould (

William Gould and His Ants

Rev. William Gould was most famous for his book, An Account of English Ants, published in 1747.  It was the first scientific paper on ants, bringing together in 109 pages all previous observations on the subject.

When published it was quite controversial.  Gould, albeit reluctantly, conceded that his observations directly contradicted the Bible, specifically Proverbs 6: 6-8, where it was written:

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise; which having no chief, overseer or ruler, provideth her bread in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest."

Gould correctly stated that there was no evidence to suggest that any of the British ant species he knew hoarded grain.  For this reason, he faced much criticism from the Established Church.

Jay Gould's Machinations

By 1867 Gould had got onto the board of directors of the Erie Railroad which was experiencing financial difficulties.  He set out to control the railroad and to push the lines westward as far as Chicago, and also to defeat his arch rival Cornelius Vanderbilt who was trying to acquire the railroad.  In the "Erie war" with Vanderbilt in 1868, Gould illegally issued 100,000 shares of new Erie stock.  He then went to Albany to bribe the legislators to "legalize" the action.  He did so and Vanderbilt was effectively blocked.

Two years later, Gould secretly began buying gold on the free market, in the belief that the U.S. Treasury would not sell its gold.  He ran up the price so much that September 24, 1869, a day of serious financial emergency, became known as Black Friday.  Then the U.S. Treasury, realizing that Gould had tricked them, started selling gold and its price dropped sharply.  Gould had speculated not only in gold but also in stocks and lost a fortune.  In 1871 and 1872, however, he made it up again.

Later Gould made one astute acquisition.  In 1879 he bought the American Union Telegraph Company, joined it with the Western Union Company, and then added the telegraph network of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  By the end of the 1880's Western Union had no real competitor in the two important businesses of railroad telegraphy and sending Associated Press stories to member newspapers.  

Milton Gould's Advocacy

Milton Gould was one of New York City's most distinguished litigators.  Together with his politically connected partner William Shea, he built a firm that ultimately bore the two men's names into one of the city's powerhouses, with 350 lawyers, gross revenues of $100 million, and a star studded client roster.

He was renowned as a master of the sotto voce for the jury's benefit.  In one favorite story recalled by one of his partners, an angered adversary asked to approach the bench and complained that Gould was making "a fool" of him.  At the bench, in a whisper just loud enough for the jury to hear, Milton Gould told the judge: "When he stops acting like a fool, I'll stop treating him like a fool."

The Trunk Murder

Vere Thomas St. Leger Goold from a well-to-do Cork family was a "cheery wild Irishman," according to the man who beat him in the 1879 Wimbledon singles final, the Rev. John Hartley.

In August 1907. after trying their luck in the casino at Monte carlo, Goold and his wife had travelled by train to Marseilles and left a large trunk in the station cloakroom, leaving instructions for it to be forwarded to London.  A porter became suspicious of a nasty smell and called the police.  They found that the box contained the dismembered body of Emma Liven, a Danish woman.

His trial and conviction were headline news.  "The Trunk Murders," as the headline writers dubbed it, had it all: glamorous defendants, the grubby subject of money, and a grisly ending.

The trial revealed that Goold and his wife had emigrated to Canada in 1891, but then returned to Liverpool in 1903 to start a laundry business which failed.  They then moved to Monte Carlo to try to make their fortune on the gaming tables, and, to fuel their craving, borrowed heavily.  And, as the prosecution was to prove, borrowing led to stealing and finally to murder.

They were both given life sentences.  Goold himself was transported to the notorious Devil's Island penal colony off French Guiana, where he died two years later.

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