Henry Gough

Henry Gough was an important Wolverhampton draper who died and left a will dated 1655. He was the oldest son and heir of John Gough, a wealthy merchant engaged in the Wolverhampton cloth trade. The family, it is believed, had originally come from London. A baptism record for a Henry son of John Gough is recorded in the register of St Peter’s Wolverhampton on 29 Dec 1561. However, this baptism is very early and would make him a man of 94 when he died. It is widely recorded elsewhere though that when his father married Elizabeth Blount of Ridware in St Peter’s on 8 May 1565 this was John Gough’s second marriage. The name of Henry’s mother is different and omitted. The baptism of his brother or half brother Richard is recorded in St Peter’s as 15 Sep 1569.

Moreover, it was not until after his father’s death, buried 3 Mar 1596/7 that, we know, Henry first married. His wife was Elizabeth Leigh and the couple went on to have two surviving sons and four daughters. A document in the National Archives dated 1599-1600 describes a marriage settlement with John Leigh, Elizabeth’s father. There is no Parish Register Record of the marriage. Henry would have been 39 years of age if the baptism is good and he went on to marry twice again.

The will of his father, John Gough is significant. It gives a long list of properties and land that he already owned and divided them between his two sons Henry and Richard, in that order. Henry’s sisters Elizabeth and Isabel, both at this point in time unmarried received cash bequests. His other sisters were Joan Cowper, Ann Jackson and Amy Tonkes.  Henry and Richard are appointed executors with Henry Plankney and Richard Jackson, a son-in-law, as overseers.

Old Fallings Hall, rebuilt in the 1780's

Old Fallings Hall, rebuilt in the 1780’s

Henry acquired Old Fallings Hall in 1609 and clearly continued to amass a large fortune. His father-in-law died in 1609 and Henry was made the sole executor, his wife being the only child and main heir of her father’s estate. His brother Richard Gough, clerk of the Worshipful Company of Grocers, died in London in the same year, all adding to the accumulation of wealth.

Henry was reputed to be an ardent Royalist and an account exists of his encounter with King Charles before the battle of Edgehill in 1642 and shows Henry’s generous assistance. The following is printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1809 on the death of his great grandson:-

The unfortunate Charles I during his troubles, stopt at Wolverhampton, where he was entertained by Madam St. Andrew, who was either sister or aunt to Mr. Henry Gough; and that gentleman ventured to accommodate their Royal Highnesses Charles Prince and James Duke of York. An ancient tenement still remains at Wolverhampton, where these princely guests resided. A subscription being set on foot to aid the exigencies of the Royal Cause, the inhabitants cheerfully contributed according to their ability, but the most ample supply was expected from Mr. Gough, whose loyalty was as eminent as his fortune was superior; when, to the great surprise and disappointment of every one, he refused any assistance, though strongly urged by the King’s Commissioners, who retired in disgust and chagrin. When night approached, putting on his hat and cloak, Mr. Gough went secretly and solicited a private audience of his Majesty. This appearing an extraordinary request, the dangerous circumstances of the times considered, the Lord in Waiting wished to know the object of the request, with an offer to communicate it to the King. Mr. Gough persisted in rejecting this offer; and, after much interrogation, obtained admission to the Royal Presence. He then drew from his cloak a purse, containing a large sum of money, and presenting it with due respect, said, ” May it please your Majesty to accept this; it is all the cask I have by me, or I would have brought more.” The gift was so acceptable to the King, that an offer of knighthood was made to Mr. Gough; but this loyal subject, having no other view than to serve his Sovereign, declined this honour, which was afterwards conferred on his grandson, Henry of Perry hall, when he was introduced at the Court of Charles II. and had mention made of the loyalty of his ancestors. It is presumed these services were not forgotten in the reign of Queen Anne, as Sir Henry obtained for two of his sons, while very young, the places of page to the Queen and. Duke of Gloucester

This is clearly a somewhat embellished account not least for the fact that Henry may well have been eighty years old. Nonetheless further insight can be drawn from the marriages and status of Henry’s children

His eldest son was John Gough (bap 29 May  1608) who inherited Old Fallings. Henry’s grandson Sir Henry Gough (bap 3 Jan 1649) went on to purchase Perry Hall that became the new seat for the future generations. John Gough’s daughter Mary (bap 27 Sep 1636) married John Huntbach (m 21 Oct 1658) and was a direct ancestor of Sir Samuel Hellier. His other daughter Elizabeth (bap 25 Aug 1633) married Edward Wodehouse, the then owner of the Wodehouse, Wombourne.

His other son Richard (bap 1 Jun 1613) was killed at the siege of Aston Hall in Dec 1643 – presumably with the Royalist forces defending it from the besieging Parliamentary troops.

His daughter Elizabeth (bap 6 Dec 1604) married Lancelot Lee and was the direct ancestor of the Shaw-Hellier’s who eventually inherited Sir Samuel Hellier’s estates in 1784, which included the Wodehouse Wombourne.

His daughter Ann (bap 15 Jan 1617) died a spinster and left a will that is the most comprehensive list of several dozen relations, near and close. This confirms a lot of the information written here as well as those described under Lancelot Lee.

His daughter Isabel (bap 16 Sep 1620) married John Hamond, (m 20 Apr 1641) the executor of her sister Anne’s will in 1673.

His daughter Judith married Richard Smallbrook (m 16 Jan 1649 Tettenhall), a mercer from Birmingham and member of the Smalbroke family. The marriage produced no children and Richard is recorded as remarrying in 1657.

His wife Elizabeth died about 1625 and Henry remarried twice more but did not have any further children. First to Frances Fellowes (d 1628) and then to Isabel Allen. – the latter the widow of Nicholas Allen Esq who died leaving Henry a widower for the third time in about 1650

Henry himself was buried on 8 Mar 1655/6 in St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

Selected Sources

  • Parish Registers for St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton, originals at findmypast
  • Will of Henry Gough, Gent of Wolverhampton, Probate 3 May 1656, National Archives
  • Will of John Goughe, Draper of Wolverhampton, Probate 14 Apr 1597, National Archives (father)
  • National Archives Document : Grant previous to marriage of Henrye Goughe and Elizabeth Leighe. MS 3145/258/19
  • Will of John Leigh, Sadler of Wolverhampton, Probate 17 Nov 1609, National Archives
  • Will of Richard Gough, London, Probate 13 Jun 1609, National Archives (brother)
  • Will of Elizabeth Gough, Widow, Probate 15 May 1615, National Archive (mother)
  • Will of Ann Gough, Spinster,  Probate 26 Jun 1673, National Archives (Daughter)
  • A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain, John Burke 1835
  • Note: “Madam St Andrew” is Elizabeth St Andrew (will probate 4 Dec 1650 PCC) nee Wedgwood, the third wife of William St Andrew of Gotham Notts. She was the aunt of Henry Gough’s daughter in law, Margaret Gough (nee Wedgwood), first wife of Henry’s son and heir John Gough.