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"Abusive carriages in the meeting house"

 Zaccheus Gould House, Topsfield, Massachusetts


Zaccheus Gould (1589-1668) and Phebe Deacon (1597-1663)


Zaccheus and Phebe are my tenth great-grandparents and were an immigrant couple counted among early settlers of Weymouth, Lynn, and Topsfield. Zaccheus was born likely at Bovingdon, Hertfordshire in 1589 son of Richard Gould. Phebe was born at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire April 1597 daughter of Thomas and Mary (Field) Deacon. Zaccheus and Phebe married at Hemel Hempstead and had three children there and were then in Great Missenden where two more children were born. In 1638, Zaccheus, Phebe, and their five children headed for the colonies where they were first located in Weymouth and soon after in Lynn. In 1640, Zaccheus owned a mill on the Saugus River in Lynn. Zaccheus was literate as evidenced by his authoring of a petition on 7 October 1640 requesting that he and other husbandmen (land owning farmers) be exempted from training during certain times of the year: This was a plea to the General Court “for the encouragement of your petitioners who are husbandmen employed about English grain, that they and their servants be exempted for ordinary trainings in seed time, hay time and harvest” and the petition was granted.


In 1644, Zaccheus obtained property (300 acres) that was part of Ipswich Village that would later become the town of Topsfield. In 1648, Zaccheus petitioned for the new settlement area to be named Hempstead, but this was disregarded in favor of the name Topsfield which was selected as this was an area in Essex, England where then Governor Samuel Symonds was from.


Zaccheus did not participate in the church, and although he took the Oath of Fidelity 30 September 1651, he was never made a freeman. He did financially support the church as would be required of a landowner. In 1659, he was fined £3 for entertaining Quakers. In 1658, he was charged with “abusive carriages in the meeting house.” The parson William Perkins and deacon Isaac Cummings made this testimony: “Zaccheus Gould in time of singing of the psalm one Sabbath day in the afternoon, sate him downe upon the end of the Table (about which the minister and the chiefe of the people sit) with his hatt fully on his head, & his back toward all the rest of them that sate about the Table and though spoken to by the minister & 2 others either to showe reverence to the Ordinance or to withdraw yet altered not his posture.” The following Sunday, Gould asked the congregation to remain after the service at which time he and members of the congregation exchanged insults leading to the charge against him of abusive carriages.


Zaccheus had one more piece of legal trouble as the neighboring town of Rowley claimed that Gould’s farm of 300 acres was really in Rowley and attempted to tax him. Gould sued the constable of Rowley for trespass which case he lost, but the boundary dispute was decided in Gould’s favor in 1665.


Daughter Mary Gould is my ancestor. Mary was born at Hemel Hempstead 19 December 1621. She married John Redington (1620-1690) who was also an early settler of Topsfield.


The house known as the Zaccheus Gould house (85 River Road) was built about 1670 probably by his son John Gould. The house is still in use and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Davis, Walter Goodwin. 1959. The Ancestry of Dudley Wildes: 1759-1820, of Topsfield, Massachusetts. Portland, ME: Anthoensen Press.

Dow, George Francis. 1940. History of Topsfield Massachusetts. Topsfield, MA: Topsfield Historical Society.

The family group sheet for Zaccheus Gould and Phebe Deacon can be seen here:




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