Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: EDWARD GOVE'S INSURRECTION

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The people of the province, ever jealous of their liberties, were indignant at Cranfield's conduct, but, in general, demeaned themselves as good citizens. A few only, under the leadership of EDWARD GOVE, of Hampton, determined to revolutionize the government, or, at least, to effect a reform. Gove was a person of considerable property, and somewhat popular, and, as Mr. Randolph affirms, "a leading man and a great stickler in the late proceedings of the assembly." Under the influence of resentment, caused by a free use of ardent spirits, and by a want of rest,--such is his own acknowledgment,--he resolved, almost single-handed, to redress his own and others' grievances. He "made it his business," said Randolph, "to stir the people up to rebellion, by giving out that the governor, as vice-admiral, acted under the commission of his royal highness, (The Duke of York, afterwards James II) who was a papist, and would bring popery in amongst them; that the governor was a pretended governor, and his commission, signed in Scotland. He endeavored, with a great deal of pains, to make a party, and solicited many of the considerable persons in each town to join with them to recover their liberties."

Gove declared "that his sword was drawn, and he would not lay it down, till he knew who should hold the government." The governor, having received information of his movements, immediately sent messengers to Hampton and Exeter, with warrants for the constables, requiring them to arrest him; but fearing that his party might become too strong for the civil power, he forthwith ordered the militia of the whole province to be in readiness.

At first, Gove eluded or repulsed the marshal and other who attempted to arrest him in this town, and hastened "to his party at Exeter, from whence he suddenly returned with twelve men [principally] of that town, mounted and armed with swords, pistols and guns,--a trumpet sounding and Gove with his sword drawn riding into Hampton at the head of them." Here they were all arrested and taken into custody by the militia of the town, except the trumpeter, who, "forcing his way, escaped, after whom a hue and cry was sent out to all parts."

When Governor Cranfield was informed of this arrest, he was just mounting his horse to lead a part of the troop in pursuit of Gove and his party.

Randolph says: "This rising was, unexpectedly to the party, made upon the 27th day of January." He further asserts it as the general belief, that "many considerable persons, to whose houses Gove either went in person, or sent--calling upon them to come out and stand up for their liberties, would have joined with him, had he not discovered his designs, or appeared in arms at that time; for," he adds, "upon the 30th day of January, being appointed by the governor, a day of public humiliation, they designed to cut off the governor, Mr. Mason and some others, whom they affected not."

It seems hardly credible that a conspiracy so base, and to be executed on a day of public humiliation, was ever formed by many, or even any, of the leading men in New Hampshire. Its existence, so far as can now be learned, depends entirely upon Mr. Randolph's statement, and the charge appears to be not only untrue, but so improbable, that to one unacquainted with Randolph's character, and his malignity towards the people of New England, it would be difficult to account for such a statement; but taking into consideration his character and his prejudices, it is even more surprising, that he could keep so near the truth, as he does in some parts of the narrative from which the foregoing extracts have been taken.

Gove and his associates having been arrested, the governor sent a strong party of horse to guard them (then prisoners in irons) from Hampton to Portsmouth. This was on Saturday. The next day, although it was the Sabbath, they were taken separately before the governor and council, for examination. The first one examined was Edward Gove. He did not deny what he had lately said and done. He admitted that "he did sound, or cause to be sounded, the trumpet being his own; and did draw his sword because his own," and added: "The governor is no judge of this court, but a pretended one, and a traitor to the king and his authority." Then addressing Governor Cranfield directly, he said: "Your Honor is in more danger of your life than I." Being asked what he meant, he replied: "God in heaven will do me justice."

The examination of the other persons arrested, elicited but few facts tending to criminate them of anything but being in Gove's company. Yet all of them were committed to the prison at Great Island, where, on account of the dilapidated state of the prison, they were still kept in irons, lest they should make their escape.

No time was lost before bringing the prisoners to trial. On Monday, the 5th day February, 1683,--only nine days after their arrest--a special court was constituted and holden at Portsmouth, for this purpose, before Richard Waldron, Judge, and Thomas Daniels and William Vaughan, Assistants, "and others, His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Province, then present."

The prisoners, eleven in number, were all charged with the crime of HIGH TREASON.

A grand jury was impaneled and sworn in open court, "to make inquiry for our Sovereign Lord the King."

The witnesses being sworn and examined, the grand jury found a true bill against nine of them, viz.: Edward Gove, John Gove, William Healey, of Hampton, John Wadleigh, Joseph Wadleigh, Robert Wadleigh, Thomas Rawlins, Mark Baker, and John Sleeper, of Exeter. Upon the presentment of the grand jury, a petit jury of the free-holders of the province, was returned and impanelled for the trial of the persons indicted, who severally pleaded "Not guilty."

From the depositions laid before the jury to prove the guilt of the prisoners, a few statements only are selected to be introduced here, but enough to give some idea of the object and character of Gove's movements.

From the testimony of Richard Martyn, of Portsmouth, it appears, that Edward Gove was at his house on Thursday, the 25th of January, and that he said, he was "on a design," and added: "We have swords by our sides, as well as others, and will see things mended before we lay them down." He said he was going to Dover and would be heard from in three or four days.

By the testimony of Reuben Hall, it was proved that Gove was at Dover on Friday, the day after Martyn had seen him at Portsmouth, "having his sword and boots on." In reply to Hall, who asked what was the matter with him, he said: "Matter enough! we of Hampton have had a town meeting, and we are resolved as one man, that these things shall not be carried on as they are like to be; we all have our guns ready to stand upon our guard; and I have been at Exeter, and they are resolved to do the some. I have my sword by my side, and brought my carbine also with me. . . . . The Governor has stretched his commission."

Edward Gove alone was adjudged guilty of treason; the rest were pardoned and set at liberty; but upon this fellow-citizen of ours was passed sentence as horrible as the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition, --"That he should be carried back to the place from whence he came, and from thence be drawn to the place of execution, and there be hanged by the neck and cut down alive, and that his entrails be taken out and burnt before his face, and his head cut off, and his body divided into four quarter, and his head and quarters disposed of at the king's pleasure." This revolting sentence, however, was not executed. Gove was reprieved, sent to England, and imprisoned in the Tower about three years; when he received a full pardon, and returned to his family.

For much more on Edward Gove and his insurrection, see this excerpt from the Gove Genealogy.

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