THE GOOCH FAMILY IN VIRGINIA

This page addresses some general issue regarding researching the Gooch families in Virginia. You may jump to pages with more specific Gooch family histories as listed below:

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  • Granville, NC Gooch families
  • Family of Rowland & Unity Gooch of Louisa County, Virginia
  • Family of Stephen & Mary (Pollard) Gooch of Louisa County, Virginia
  • Thomas Gooch of 18th century Louisa County, Virginia
  • The Gooch Family of Alblemarle County, Virginia
  • The Gooch Family of Caswell County, North Carolina
  • Billy Gosling Gooch & the Gooch Family of Kershaw Co., SC

    MYTHS VS. FACTS

    So much information has been passed around over the years concerning the Gooch family that this page is my attempt to sort through these works and take an objective look at what the facts really are and what they tell us. Most family histories are a tangle of family myths, in Virginia genealogy the tangles are made greater due to the huge void in history left by the loss of records in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and through neglect. So much is missing, that I think it is safe to say that at this time, few if any of the Gooch families of Virginia can confidently trace their origins back to any of the original emigrants. I state this not to discourage you, but merely as a honest observation on the existing work that has been done. There may still be records buried in the Virginia archives, in private papers, or in English records that might help establish family groups, but for now this information has not surfaces. I encourage anyone out there to continue looking and re-evaluating what is now known in order to bring new understanding to this topic.

    What has been written about the Gooches?

    Interest in the family history of the Gooch family appears to have surfaced in the second quarter of the 20th century. There are two types of records that early family historians left for us. One type of record is a standard type of written family history in which the authors attempted to document the family lineage back to England. The second type of document are DAR applications in which members were required to provide proof of direct descent from an American Patriot. There are pitfalls to both of these types of family record, which I will address in this section.

    Much of the early interest in Gooch family history interest appears to be related to enrollment of several women in the DAR under a Gooch ancestor. At that time, the DAR was more of a social organization and the standards for documenting family lineage was not very high. The social character of the DAR influence the types of lineages that were submitted and early application all reference Gov. Gooch, though he was a pre-Revolutionary figure and not relevant to the membership. However, the need to include him was part of a "gentrification" of this family's lineage and began the myth of a family connection to the Gooches of Suffolk. All of the DAR applications that I have found between 1919 and 1944 belong to descendants of a Gooch family in Granville County, NC which origins in Caroline County, Virginia. My review of these records indicate that accurate family history in this branch did not extend beyond Daniel Gooch (1756-1837), except that Daniel's father Joseph is generally identified. Many of these DAR applications also mis-identified a connection to the only titled Gooch family, the descendants of Gov. William Gooch of Virginia whose title and home in Suffolk has been passed down through his brother's line (see my section on Gov. Gooch). The incorrect association with Gov. Gooch clearly indicates that these women did not really know much about the early Gooch's in Virginia and if they did hire or conduct a search on their ancestors, scholarly standards were not maintained. Susie Gooch Caudle was the first to apply to the DAR [application #149404]. Caudle's son was a senior government official in Washington, DC and Caudle probably joined the DAR for social reason, thus Mrs. Caudle added the unestablished link to the Suffolk Gooch family to dress up her family pedigree. This mistaken association continues in most of the applications preceding Mrs. Caudle's application. To date, I have found no other DAR applications for other branches of the Gooch family outside of the Granville line.

    In the late 1940s, my mother was given a copy of the Gooch family genealogy; the author is not documented. This work was believed to have been commissioned by one of the Gooch descendants of Granville County, North Carolina, probably in preparation for a DAR application. Despite the many errors and flaws, this work has become the primary source for Gooch researchers. The work is undated, but in 1943 Evelena Gooch Singleton of Bowling Green, Kentucky produced a larger genealogical work that incorporated the Granville family work and she titled it "Gooch Genealogy & Allied Families". Mrs. Singleton and her husband were both descendants of Gooch families in Virginia; both I believe in the Louisa County, Virginia line of Rowland & Unity Gooch See family of Rowland & Unity Gooch. Therefore, the material that she provided on the Gooch family of Granville is not from her own family tradition. Mrs. Singleton's work provides us with some background to the known family material in the 1940s, which has provided a valuable starting place for most researchers. However, her methodology and the sources available to her were poor for the earliest generations of the Gooch family and her work contains major flaws. Today, we all have more access to the documents that Mrs. Singleton and it is certainly our duty to continue her work by re-evalutating her material and correcting it. I have written an annotation to her work with corrections on the early Virginia and Granville lines, which are available for those who wish to see my comments in depth. In short, Mrs. Singleton's work is valuable in understanding what family information survived into the 20th century and her own family history which makes up the majority of her work is said to be accurate and a valuable document for Kentucky researchers.

    The second genealogical work found on the Gooch family is an unpublished and undated work done by Frances Gooch (c1876-1968) of Louisville, Kentucky. Frances Gooch is a descendant of a William Gooch of Hanover who settled in Albemarle County, Virginia See Gooch family of Albemarle County, VA. This work has been taken up and re-examined by Mr. Neville Gooch who for the past few years has been working with her final draft and field notes. This work is said to be accurate and contains evidence of at least one family letter dating from 1803. The full text of Frances Gooch's work can be found at the Virginia State Library.

    A brief comment should be made on another Gooch genealogy, written about the Gooch family of New England. In 1926, Frank Austin Gooch a chemist wrote a book titled: The History of a Surname with some account of the Line of John Gooch of New England". Frank Austin Gooch compiled this book from the records of Samuel Henfield Gooch. One important aspect of Gooch's work is that he has compiled several old genealogical tables for various Gooch families in England and Wales, thus showing that there are many more possiblities for Gooch family links in England beyond the Gooches of Suffolk. This genealogy provides good resource for any New England researchers; however, Mr. Gooch's research appears inconclusive and at best speculative as to the British origins of his line. His attempt to find a link with the Virginia Gooch family also appears to stretch the facts.

    What do the records say?

    Many attempts have been made by researchers to connect all the Gooch families in Virginia to one ancestor. In general, this ancestor has been Lt. Henry Gooch of Virginia. There have been many variations on this theme, but all are undocumented and unsubstantiated. Instead of continuing the speculation on family connection, I decided to turn to existing Virginia records for clues of early Gooch emigration and what I found is a very different story. Taking into consideration that most of the land and emigration records for Virginia have been destroyed, I did a casual survey of 17th century Virginia land patents for individuals by the name of Gooch. Land patents in Virginia are not terribly accurate, since many were issued after emigration and it is known that people made multiple claims upon the same person; however, they do represent the best available documents to show emigration to Virginia. Between 1650 and 1714 at least 10 Gooch (Gough, Goff) men were transported to Virginia and claimed as headrights as follows (note the date is the date of the patent not necessarily of emigration): John (1650, 1691, 1714; William (1658, 1691), Henry (1664); Edward (1662, 1686), Aaron (1664), Alexander (1666). Only one of these records, John Gooch of 1691, suggests a family group since John is claimed along with a William and Rebecca Gooch. In addition to these ten men documented as having been transported to Virginia, there are roughly 13 other Gooch families that are documented as either transporters of emigrants or who appear in very early public records. Each of the 13 groups is listed below and is discussed in detail. In short, the point I want to make is that even with the small amount of existing early Virginia records we can identify at least 23 men who could have been the progenitors of anyone of the Gooch families in that colony. This does not even take into consideration emigration from other colonies or bastard births by Gooch women, in which the surname may have been handed down through a female ancestor. It is attractive to look at Maj. William Gooch, Lt. Col. Henry Gooch, and John Gough of King William County and choose amongst these wealthy men an ancestor, but with the existing records it is neither credible or scholarly to do so with out further evidence.

    Who was Gov. William Gooch & Why the Virginia Gooches are not related to him?

    One of the most persistent myths concerning the Gooch family of Virginia is the connection with the Lt. Gov. of the colony, William Gooch (1681-1751). In this section, I hope to dispel some of the myths about Gov. Gooch and his family. I often feel as though I am spoiling the party by stating my findings; however, I am always open to new evidence that might establish a link between Gov. Gooch and the Gooch families of Virginia. To my knowledge no one has actaully looked at church records in Suffolk, England to dispel or confirm many of these claims. I have found that in the records available to me through the local library that it is fairly easy to prove that the existing published lineages of the Gooch family in America are not substantiated by English records.

    One of the primary tools that inexperience researchers have used is Burke's Peerage. Flipping through Burkes and choosing a titled family in which to associate your family may be the easiest way to find a link to the English landed gentry, but it certainly not the most scholarly way to do family research. Many researchers claim Gov. Gooch as an ancestor, which is completely false, since he left no direct heirs. It is true that Gov. Gooch had a son William, who lived into adulthood and married Eleanor Bowles the daughter of the Gov. of Maryland; however, William died soon after his marriage and left a will in the Preogative Court of Canterbury dated January 1744. Proof of no other living descendant of the Governor is show by the succession of his title by Gov. Gooch's brother Thomas Gooch, Bishop of London who passed on this title to his heirs. Thomas Gooch never came to Virginia and according to Burke's Peerage all of Thomas' children remained in England. The Gooch family has often identified the father of Joseph Gooch (c1735-1810) as the son of Thomas Gooch, Bishop of London. This is clearly false, by evidence of Burkes and by the age of Thomas. I have addressed the other myth of Thomas Gooch of Nansemond Co., VA as Joseph's father in another section of these notes. In short, neither Gov. Gooch nor his brother are ancestors of any of the Virginia Gooch families.

    More sophisticated researchers have read Burke's Peerage more carefully and in realizing that neither Gov. Gooch or his brother could be ancestors have made another error in taking one step back in time and identifying the ancestor of the Gooch family as the "uncle" of Gov. Gooch of Virginia. Though this is a more plausible scenario, the association is completely without merit. Burke's Peerage correctly identifies Gov. William Gooch as the son of Thomas Gooch a member of a landed Gooch family associated with Bungay and Mettingham in Suffolk County, England. Gov. Gooch had two uncles William who died in 1655 and Richard of Mettingham who died in 1682. The addition of John Gooch of King William Co., VA or/and Lt. Col. Henry Gooch as uncles appears to be fictional. The most compelling evidence against their association is found in the Visitation of Heralds for Suffolk. In 1664, William Gooch, the grandfather of Gov. William Gooch, entered his family pedigree with the Visitation of Heralds. In 1664, he lists his children as: William Gooch (died 1655), Richard of Mettingham, Thomas, & then lists two daughters. There is no mention of Henry, John, or any of the other Gooches found in the New World that are often assocaited with this family. The Visitation does however, give credence to the identification of Maj. William Gooch of Virginia as the uncle of Gov. Gooch.

    Capt. William Gooch of Virginia was a large landowner and member of the governing body of Virginia, the House of Burgess. His earliest records is for a deed dated 1650 for 1050 acres in Westmoreland County, Virginia; however, he appears to have never developed this land and instead is found in York County. In 1652 he gives a deposition stating his age as about 25 years old [ref: York Record Book, 1, pg. 141]. In 1652, William is found as a Justice of the Peace and a County Commissioner for York County. Between 1652 and 1654, William Gooch serves in the General Assembly and the House of Burgess. He is also named in the estate papers of the wealthy and influential Col. Augustine Warner and is called "friend" by him. The single most important record concerning William is his tombstone, which is one of the oldest surviving tombs in Virginia. The headstone reads, "Major William Gooch of this parish died October 29, 1655. Within this tomb, there doth interred lie no shape, but substance, true nobility. Itself, though young, in years just twenty-nine, yet graced with virtues moral, and divine; the Church from him did good participate in counsel rare, fit to adorn a State." On this tomb is the coat of arms of the family of Gov. Gooch. The combination of the coat of arms with a death year matching that of William Gooch of Suffolk's son named in the 1664 Visitation of Heralds makes a compelling argument for a family connection. Burke's Peerage recognizes this connection as well. However, establishing Maj. William Gooch as an uncle of Gov. Gooch does not provide an ancestor for the Gooches of Virginia. Maj. Gooch did marry and had issue, but his sole heir is his daughter Anne. Anne married first Capt. Thomas Beale Jr. (1647-1679) and married secondly William Colston, the clerk of Rappahannock Co., VA. Both land records and the tomb of Capt. Thomas Beale. Evidence of deeds and the inscription of Capt. Thomas Beale's tomb establish that Anne was the only child and heir to Maj. William Gooch. Anne had issue by both husbands and through her there are many descendants of Maj. William Gooch, though they did not inherit his name.

    Finally, in summarizing the above I feel that none of the present records establish any credible connection between Gov. Gooch's family and any Gooch family in Virginia beyond Maj. William Gooch. Not only do I find that there are no records that make these connections, but I also find that researchers have not bothered to do the work necessary with the available English records to have made the claims in the first place. By the 17th century, there were numerous Gooch families all over England and there is no clear connection between Virginia and Suffolk, England that would identify that county as the origins of the Gooch family. Through my research I am confident that Gov. Gooch is neither an ancestor or a close relation to the many Gooch families in Virginia and I feel the traditional associations with him stem from the misuse of Burke's Peerage and name association. However, the Gooch family in Suffolk is a large family. The Visitation of 1664 indicates that Peter Gooch of Great Peringland had several sons, one of them a Robert Gooch had ten sons, so there certainly may be an ancestor to the Virginia Gooches among the Suffolk records, but greater effort needs to be made to establish this fact by searching English records and looking to private papers for clues and associations.

    BRANCHES OF THE GOOCH FAMILY

    There are numerous records in Virginia substanciating many Gooch families. I would be interested in any further information that anyone can provide for these people and additional Gooch families that may have lived in Virginia before the 19th century.

    1999 mahard@jps.net