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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Regicides in New England

By Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1780)

[Born in Boston, Mass., 1711. Died at Brompton, England, 1780. The History of Massachusetts. 3d edition. 1795.]

IN the ship which arrived from London the 27th of July, there came passengers, Col. Whaley and Col. Goffe, two of the late King’s judges. Col. Goffe brought testimonials from Mr. John Rowe and Mr. Seth Wood, two ministers of a church in Westminster. Col. Whaley had been a member of Mr. Thomas Goodwin’s church. Goffe kept a journal or diary from the day he left Westminster, May 4, until the year 1667, which, together with several other papers belonging to him, I have in my possession. Almost the whole is in characters or shorthand, not very difficult to decipher. The story of these persons has never yet been published to the world. It has never been known in New England. Their papers after their death were collected, and have remained near an hundred years in a library in Boston. It must give some entertainment to the curious. They left London before the King was proclaimed. It does not appear that they were among the most obnoxious of the judges; but as it was expected vengeance would be taken of some of them, and a great many had fled, they did not think it safe to remain. They did not attempt to conceal their persons or characters when they arrived at Boston, but immediately went to the governor, Mr. Endicott, who received them very courteously. They were visited by the principal persons of the town, and among others they take notice of Col. Crown’s coming to see them. He was a noted royalist. Although they did not disguise themselves, yet they chose to reside at Cambridge, a village about four miles distant from the town, where they went the first day they arrived. They went publicly to meetings on the Lord’s days, and to occasional lectures, fasts and thanksgivings, and were admitted to the sacrament, and attended private meetings for devotion, visited many of the principal towns, and were frequently at Boston, and once when insulted there the person insulting them was bound to his good behavior. They appeared grave, serious and devout, and the rank they had sustained commanded respect. Whaley had been one of Cromwell’s lieutenant-generals, and Goffe a major-general. It is not strange that they should meet with this favorable reception, nor was this reception any contempt of the authority in England. They were known to have been two of the King’s judges; but King Charles the Second was not proclaimed when the ship that brought them left London; they had the news of it in the channel. The reports afterward by way of Barbados were that all the judges would be pardoned but seven. The act of indemnity was not brought over until the last of November. When it appeared that they were not excepted, some of the principal persons in the government were alarmed; pity and compassion prevailed with others. They had assurances from some that belonged to the general court that they would stand by them, but were advised by others to think of removing.

The 22d of February the governor summoned a court of assistants to consult about securing them, but the court did not agree to it. Finding it unsafe to remain any longer, they left Cambridge the 26th following, and arrived at New Haven the 7th of March. One Capt. Breedan, who had seen them at Boston, gave information thereof upon his arrival in England. A few days after their removal, an hue-and-cry, as they term it in their diary, was brought by the way of Barbados; and thereupon a warrant to secured them issued, the 8th of March, from the governor and assistants, which was sent to Springfield and the other towns in the western parts of the colony; but they were beyond the reach of it….

They were well treated at New Haven by the ministers and some of the magistrates, and for some days seemed to apprehend themselves out of danger. But the news of the King’s proclamation being brought to New Haven, they were obliged to abscond. The 27th of March they removed to Milford, and appeared there in the daytime, and made themselves known; but at night returned privately to New Haven, and lay concealed in Mr. Davenport the minister’s house, until the 30th of April. About that time news came to Boston that ten of the judges were executed; and the governor received a royal mandate, dated March 5, 1660, to cause Whaley and Goffe to be secured. This greatly alarmed the country, and there is no doubt that the court were now in earnest in their endeavors to apprehend them; and, to avoid all suspicion, they gave commission and instructions to two young merchants from England, Thomas Kellond and Thomas Kirk, zealous royalists, to go through the colonies as far as Manhadoes in search of them. They had friends who informed them what was doing, and they removed from Mr. Davenport’s to the house of one Jones, where they lay hid until the 11th of May and then removed to a mill, and from thence on the 13th into the woods, where they met Jones and two of his companions, Sperry and Burrill, who first conducted them to a place called Hatchet harbor where they lay two nights until a cave or hole in the side of a hill was prepared to conceal them. This hill they called Providence hill, and there they continued from the 15th of May to the 11th of June, sometimes in the cave, and in very tempestuous weather in a house near to it.

During this time the messengers went through New Haven to the Dutch settlement, from whence they returned to Boston by water. They made diligent search, and had full proof that the regicides had been seen at Mr. Davenport’s, and offered great rewards to English and Indians who should give information that they might be taken; but by the fidelity of their three friends, they remained undiscovered. Mr. Davenport was threatened with being called to an account for concealing and comforting traitors, and might well be alarmed. They had engaged to surrender, rather than the country or any particular persons should suffer upon their account; and upon intimation of Mr. Davenport’s danger, they generously resolved to go to New Haven, and deliver themselves up to the authority there. The miseries they had suffered and were still exposed to, and the little chance they had of finally escaping, in a country where every stranger is immediately known to be such, would not have been sufficient to have induced them. They let the deputy governor, Mr. Leete, know where they were, but he took no measures to secure them, and the next day some persons came to them to advise them not to surrender. Having publicly shown themselves at New Haven, they had cleared Mr. Davenport from the suspicion of still concealing them, and the 24th of June went into the woods again to their cave. They continued there, sometimes venturing to a house near the cave, until the 19th of August, when the search for them being pretty well over, they ventured to the house of one Tomkins near Milford, where they remained two years, without so much as going into the orchard.

After that, they took a little more liberty, and made themselves known to several persons in whom they could confide; and each of them frequently prayed and also exercised, as they term it, or preached, at private meetings in their chamber. In 1664 the commissioners from King Charles arrived at Boston. Upon the news of it, they retired to their cave, where they tarried eight or ten days. Soon after, some Indians in their hunting discovered the cave with the bed, etc., and the report being spread abroad, it was not safe to remain near it. On the 13th of October, 1664, they removed to Hadley, near an hundred miles distant, travelling only by night, where Mr. Russell, the minister of the place, had previously agreed to receive them. Here they remained concealed fifteen or sixteen years, very few persons in the colony being privy to it. The last account of Goffe is from a letter, dated Ebenezer (the name they gave their several places of abode), April 2d, 1679. Whaley had been dead some time before. The tradition at Hadley is, that two persons unknown were buried in the minister’s cellar. The minister was no sufferer by his boarders. They received more or less remittances every year, for many years together, from their wives in England. Those few persons who knew where they were made them frequent presents. Richard Saltonstall, Esq., who was in the secret, when he left the country and went to England in 1672, made them a present of fifty pounds at his departure; and they take notice of donations from several other friends.

They were in constant terror, though they had reason to hope, after some years, that the inquiry for them was over. They read with pleasure the news of their being killed with other judges in Switzerland. Their diary for six or seven years contains every little occurrence in the town, church and particular families in the neighborhood. These were small affairs. They had indeed for a few years of their lives been among the principal actors in the great affairs of the nation, Goffe especially, who turned the members of the little parliament out of the house, and who was attached to Oliver and to Richard to the last; but they were both of low birth and education. They had very constant and exact intelligence of everything which passed in England, and were unwilling to give up all hopes of deliverance. Their greatest expectations were from the fulfilment of the prophecies. They had no doubt that the execution of the judges was the slaying of the witnesses. They were much disappointed when the year 1666 had passed without any remarkable event, but flattered themselves that the Christian era might be erroneous. Their lives were miserable and constant burdens. They complain of being banished from all human society. A letter from Goffe’s wife, who was Whaley’s daughter, I think worth preserving. After the second year, Goffe writes by the name of Walter Goldsmith, and she of Frances Goldsmith, and the correspondence is carried on as between a mother and son. There is too much religion in their letters for the taste of the present day; but the distresses of two persons under these peculiar circumstances, who appear to have lived very happily together, are very strongly described.

Whilst they were at Hadley (February 10th, 1664) Dixwell, another of the judges, came to them; but from whence, or in what part of America he first landed, is not known. The first mention of him in their journal is by the name of Col. Dixwell, but ever after they call him Mr. Davids. He continued some years at Hadley, and then removed to New Haven. He was generally supposed to have been one of those who were obnoxious in England, but he never discovered who he was until he was on his death-bed. I have one of his letters, signed James Davids, dated March 23d, 1683. He married at New Haven, and left several children. After his death, his son, who before had been called Davids, took the name of Dixwell, came to Boston, and lived in good repute; was a ruling elder of one of the churches there, and died in 1721 of the small-pox by inoculation. Some of his grandchildren are now living. Col. Dixwell was buried at New Haven. His gravestone still remains, with this inscription: “J. D., Esq., deceased March 18th, in the 82d year of his age, 1688.”

It cannot be denied that many of the principal persons in the colony greatly esteemed these persons, for their professions of piety and their grave deportment, who did not approve of their political conduct. Mr. Mitchell, the minister of Cambridge, who showed them great friendship upon their first arrival, says, in a manuscript which he wrote in his own vindication, “Since I have had opportunity by reading and discourse to look a little into that action for which these men suffer, I could never see that it was justifiable.” After they were declared traitors, they certainly would have been sent to England if they could have been taken. It was generally thought they had left the country; and even the consequence of their escape was dreaded, lest when they were taken those who had harbored them should suffer for it. Mr. Endicott, the governor, writes to the Earl of Manchester, that he supposes they went toward the Dutch at Manhadoes, and took shipping for Holland; and Mr. Bradstreet, the then governor, in December, 1684, writes to Edward Randolph, “that after their being at New Haven he could never hear what became of them.” Randolph, who was sent to search into the secrets of the government, could obtain no more knowledge of them than that they had been in the country, and respect had been shown them by some of the magistrates. I am loath to omit an anecdote handed down through Governor Leveret’s family. I find Goffe takes notice in his journal of Leveret’s being at Hadley. The town of Hadley was alarmed by the Indians in 1675, in the time of public worship, and the people were in the utmost confusion. Suddenly a grave, elderly person appeared in the midst of them. In his mien and dress he differed from the rest of the people. He not only encouraged them to defend themselves, but put himself at their head, rallied, instructed and led them on to encounter the enemy, who by this means were repulsed. As suddenly the deliverer of Hadley disappeared. The people were left in consternation, utterly unable to account for this strange phenomenon. It is not probable that they were ever able to explain it. If Goffe had been then discovered, it must have come to the knowledge of those persons, who declare by their letters that they never knew what became of him.