GOOCH (GOCHE, GOOGE), Barnaby (by 1568-1626), of Magdalene College, Camb., Doctors' Commons, London and the archdeacon of Cornwall's house, Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. by 1568, 4th s. of Barnaby Googe† (d.1594) of Alvingham, Lincs. and Mary, da. of Thomas Darrell of Scotney, Lamberhurst, Kent.1 educ. Magdalene, Camb. 1582, BA 1587, MA 1590, fellow 1588, LLD 1604; incorp. Oxf. 1605.2 m. by Dec. 1618, Elizabeth, wid. of Henry Parry, bp. of Worcester (d.1616), s.p.3 d. 29 Jan. 1626.4 sig. Bar[naby] Goche.

Offices Held

Member, coll. of advocates 1604-13, 1613-d. (full admiss.);5 master, Magdalene Camb. 1604-d.; vice-chan. Camb. Univ. 1611-12, commissary 1615-?d., snr. proctor 1618.6

Chan. Worcester dioc. by 1611-at least 1618,7 Exeter dioc. 1615-d.;8 ?dep. judge, Vice Admlty. Ct. Devon by 1615;9 judge, Ct. of Delegates by 1618-at least 1622,10 Ct. of Audience, Canterbury prov. by 1619-at least 1625, Ct. of Arches by 1619-at least 1625, PCC by 1619-at least 1625.11

J.p. Cambs. and Cambridge 1611-12,12 Lincs. (Holland and Lindsey) 1625-d.;13 commr. sewers, Gt. Fens 1611-12,14 piracy, Devon 1615-at least 1620, Dorset 1622, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent and Surr. 1625,15 subsidy, Cambridge 1622, 1624;16 collector, Palatine Benevolence, Exeter dioc. 1622-at least 1624.17

Member, Convocation, Worcester dioc. 1614,18 High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620-d.;19 commr. matrimonial causes 1623.20

Auditor (jt.), council for New Eng. 1622, treas. 1622-at least 1625.21


During the fifteenth century the Gooch (or Googe) family was settled in the Forest of Dean.22 Robert Gooch (b. c.1515), this Member’s grandfather, was a receiver for the Court of Augmentations and twice sat in Parliament.23 At his death in 1557, Robert was seised of former monastic properties at Alvingham in Lincolnshire and Horkstow in Nottinghamshire, which were subject to the life interest of his second wife, who died in 1584. Her longevity created financial hardship for Robert’s son and heir Barnaby, the poet, translator, polemicist and MP. In 1582 Barnaby was driven to take employment in Ireland by the cost of educating his nine children, among them this Member, who had then recently entered university.24

Gooch matriculated as a pensioner at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in Michaelmas 1582. He became a fellow of the college in 1588 and in 1591, the year after he was awarded his MA, the master and fellows granted him special dispensation to study civil law, thereby freeing him from the college’s customary requirement to proceed to ordination. As a younger son, Gooch probably inherited little on his father’s death in 1594. Instead, he remained at Magdalene, where in 1604 he was not only awarded his doctorate in Civil Law but became master of the college following the resignation of the previous incumbent. Although not personally connected to the college’s visitor, Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Suffolk, in whose gift the appointment lay, Gooch had spent the last 20 years at Magdalene and had thereby proved his loyalty to the college which, having had six masters in just under 30 years, needed a period of stability.

The appointment of Gooch to the mastership of Magdalene was to prove a mixed blessing. On the one hand Gooch certainly provided Magdalene with the stability that it craved, as he remained in office for the rest of his life. On the other, the college, which enjoyed an annual income of less than £300, was soon plunged into debt. On taking up his appointment, Gooch swiftly carried out extensive repairs to the college buildings, and consequently the college’s deficit rose from a modest 27s. 6d. to more than £151 in 1605. By 1607 the debt on the accounts was equivalent to Magdalene’s entire annual income. Although Gooch was prepared from time to time to dip into his own pocket to help finance the acquisition of new properties for the college,25 it was clear that drastic action was needed to remedy the situation. In February 1607, therefore, Gooch resolved to transform the college’s shaky finances by attempting to recover lands previously owned by the college.

In 1544 Lord Audley had bequeathed to Magdalene his great or ‘convent’ garden in the London parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate.26 Thirty years later the then master of Magdalene, Roger Kelke, under pressure from his patron William Cecil†, Lord Burghley, had agreed to lease this seven-acre property to one of the queen’s creditors, a Genoese merchant named Benedict Spinola. However, Spinola required a permanent lease, and in order to accommodate his wishes it was necessary to circumvent an Act of 1571, which prohibited the granting of leases for any period longer than three lives or 21 years to all but the Crown. This was achieved in December 1574 by the simple device of conveying the freehold to the queen, who in turn passed it on to Spinola a few months later. Any doubts about the legality of this arrangement were apparently dispelled in 1576, when Parliament confirmed all long leases which had been granted by the queen. The immediate effect of the transaction with Spinola was to increase Magdalene’s rental income from the Aldgate property from £9 to £15 p.a. However, it must soon have become apparent that the college had seriously misjudged its best interests, for in 1580 Spinola sold his lease to Edward, earl of Oxford, who rapidly erected 130 buildings on the property at a cost of £10,000, improving its value to such an extent that by the early 1620s it was worth £800 a year. The college was galled that it was not entitled to a share in the profits of this lucrative development, and as its finances worsened it determined to recover the Aldgate estate by challenging the title claimed by Oxford and that of his sub-tenant, Edward Hamond. Victory over Oxford would not only give Magdalene the means to eliminate its mounting debts, but also the resources with which to expand its premises and enhance its prestige and position within the university. The process of challenging Oxford’s title began in February 1607, when Gooch granted a lease of one of the Aldgate buildings, then in the possession of Sir Francis Castillion†, to the college bursar, John Smith. In response to this provocation Castillion, the sub-tenant of Edward Hamond, issued his own lease to one John Warren, who subsequently brought an action of unlawful ejection against Smith. An abortive attempt by the plaintiff to have the case heard in the Court of Wards on the grounds that Henry, earl of Oxford, who had succeeded his father in 1604, was a minor delayed proceedings, and therefore it was not until Easter 1613 that the stage was set for a trial in King’s Bench.27

In the years immediately before the trial opened, Gooch’s career flourished. By February 1611 he was chancellor of Worcester diocese, a position which he held until 1618, and in November 1611 he became vice-chancellor of Cambridge University. His vice-chancellorship was marked by a dispute with the mayor of Cambridge over precedence at the Cambridge quarter sessions, which was determined in his favour by the Privy Council in October 1612.28 The most significant occurrence while he was in office, however, followed the death of the university’s chancellor, Robert Cecil†, earl of Salisbury. In June 1612 the university elected the earl of Northampton as Salisbury’s successor, thereby ignoring the king’s nomination of Prince Charles. As vice-chancellor it fell to Gooch to apologize to James for this slight to royal authority, and also to Northampton, who renounced his election on discovering that Charles had been passed over. Gooch evidently accomplished these onerous tasks with considerable skill. Indeed, James was so mollified by Gooch’s letter that he allowed himself to be persuaded that the university as a whole was free of fault, and that the blame lay exclusively with ‘some of rash, factious humour’. Northampton, too, thanked Gooch for his ‘discreet and kind letter’, which he saw as a demonstration of the ‘temper of your mind and the gravity of your judgment in other things’. Gooch’s expertly crafted apologies paved the way for a fresh election, at which Northampton was chosen once again. This time there was no interference from James, who used the excuse of Charles’s youth to avoid nominating his son again.29

In 1614 Gooch required a seat in Parliament, having probably learned that the earl of Oxford intended to introduce legislation to confirm his title to the Aldgate estate and thereby obviate the need for further legal proceedings. Gooch therefore turned to his colleagues, the heads of the Cambridge colleges, who agreed to return him as one of the university’s representatives alongside the then vice-chancellor, Clement Corbett. Their plans were jeopardized, however, by the appearance of two rival candidates: the attorney-general, Sir Francis Bacon*, who had recently been appointed the university’s counsel, and Sir Miles Sandys* of Wilburton, a former fellow of Queens’ and Peterhouse and sometime proctor of the university. On the day of the election the presiding officer, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor Dr. John Duport, made a thinly veiled attempt to prevent the election of Bacon and Sandys by reminding the assembled voters that they were required to elect only members of the university and residents. Despite this advice Bacon and Sandys proceeded to top the poll by a large margin, leaving Gooch trailing in third place, whereupon Duport ordered the votes to be recounted, arousing the suspicion that he intended to alter the result. Sensing that the voters were now restive, and fearing violence, Duport decided not to await the completion of the recount but declared Sandys’s election invalid on the grounds of non-residence and pronounced Bacon and Gooch the winners of the contest. His dramatic intervention caused chaos. A seething mass of disgruntled electors tumbled out of the Convocation House chanting ‘a Sandys, a Sandys!’ and made their way to King’s College, where they drew up a certificate subscribed by the sheriff in favour of Bacon and Sandys. Over at the Convocation House the heads drew up their own return naming Bacon and Gooch but, unable to persuade the sheriff or under-sheriff to sign it, their document was worthless. The heads nevertheless refused to accept that Gooch had been defeated, and his name rather than Sandys’s was entered on the roll of the university’s parliamentary representatives.30

Defeat on the hustings spared Gooch from the awkwardness of having to share the parliamentary representation of the university with Bacon, who was employed as chief counsel by the earl of Oxford in the King’s Bench case. On the other hand, it also meant that he was not present to witness the first reading of Oxford’s bill in the Commons on 13 May.31 Fortunately for Gooch, Oxford’s bill, like all other legislation in 1614, failed to reach the statute book, and this left King’s Bench free to proceed to judgment. In Easter term 1615 it ruled that the original conveyance to the queen was void under the terms of the 1571 Act, on the grounds that the Aldgate property had not really passed to her but to Benedict Spinola.32 Victory for Magdalene now seemed assured. However, before the court’s judgment could be entered, Oxford cleverly exploited the divisions between King’s Bench and Chancery over the latter’s right to interfere with Common Law rulings by preferring a bill in Chancery.33 Gooch and his co-defendant John Smith refused to reply to Oxford’s bill, arguing that they already had judgment. Their demurrer was interpreted as contempt, and in October Lord Chancellor Ellesmere (Thomas Egerton I*) ordered them to be committed to the Fleet. Their imprisonment was undoubtedly viewed as provocative by King’s Bench which, under the headship of lord chief justice Sir Edward Coke*, was engaged in a bitter jurisdictional battle with Chancery. However, Coke appears to have been unwilling to worsen his quarrel with Chancery, as he and Ellesmere had temporarily resolved to work together following the discovery of the earl and countess of Somerset’s involvement in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Consequently, although Coke rapidly freed the defendants on a writ of habeas corpus,34 he showed them scant sympathy, telling them that, as far as the dispute over the Aldgate property was concerned, ‘it is better for you if we hear no more of it’.35

Coke’s refusal to champion Magdalene’s cause left the matter entirely in the lap of Chancery, which permitted Oxford to submit documentary evidence in support of his claim while Gooch and Smith were languishing in prison. Following the end of the truce between Coke and Ellesmere in February 1616 Gooch may have hoped that the lord chief justice would now rally to his cause, but if so he was to be disappointed, for in June 1616 Coke was charged with misconduct and stripped of his place on the Privy Council. In the midst of Coke’s difficulties, in mid June, Chancery finally ruled for Oxford, thereby dealing a severe blow to Gooch, whose hopes of rescuing Magdalene’s finances had now been thrown into turmoil. Oxford nevertheless remained nervous, fearing that this latest judgment might be overturned in the same way that the ruling previously given for Gooch and Smith had been reversed. In order to guard against this eventuality, he petitioned the king, who referred the matter to Ellesmere and the two chief justices. The result was a foregone conclusion, as Coke’s successor as lord chief justice of King’s Bench was Sir Henry Montagu*, who had previously been retained by Oxford as counsel for Warren.36 In March 1617 Chancery’s decree was confirmed. Further confirmations were subsequently sought by Oxford and also granted, the last of which was issued in December 1619 and declared that no further bill or petition to reverse the judgment would be admitted by Chancery.37

Although Gooch was now prevented from taking the matter any further in the courts, there remained the possibility of an appeal to Parliament. The Commons in particular could be expected to lend a sympathetic ear to Magdalene’s cause, as it was invariably dominated by common lawyers, many of whom resented Chancery’s interference with their jurisdiction. It was doubtless for this reason that Gooch sought election to the third Jacobean Parliament. He was virtually assured of a seat at Cambridge University, even though he now spent most of his time at Exeter where, since 1615, he had been the bishop’s chancellor. The rules for electing the university’s parliamentary representatives had been altered since the previous election to allow the heads of colleges the exclusive right to nominate all of the candidates. However, mindful of the humiliation which he had suffered in 1614, Gooch also sought, and obtained, a seat at Truro, a borough with which he had no known connection except as chancellor of Exeter diocese. In the event he did not need the Truro place,38 as he was returned at Cambridge without incident. A rumour that he and his fellow Member for the university, Sir Robert Naunton, would be questioned ‘for the manner of their election’ proved to be unfounded.39

It took Gooch some time to bring the Chancery decree to the notice of the Commons. When at last he managed to do so, on 4 May 1621, he was opposed by Thomas Malet, who said that no Member should be heard in his own cause. Malet’s objection was rebutted by Thomas Wentworth I, who observed that Gooch did not wish to speak in a private cause but against ‘a public grievance’, this being ‘that a decree should confirm an estate which an Act of Parliament maketh void’. However, despite Wentworth’s intervention, and the vocal support of Sir Edward Coke, who clearly relished the prospect of exacting his revenge on Chancery, Gooch was initially prevented from addressing the House, which objected to his intention to proceed by petition rather than by bill. Four days later, he returned to the Commons with the necessary legislation, which was given a first reading. Permission to give the bill a second reading was sought by Gooch on 3 Dec. but was refused on the grounds that the House was not full.40 Shortage of time meant that it proceeded no further. This failure was undoubtedly disappointing for Gooch, but there was nothing to stop him from trying to repeat his attempt to overturn the earl of Oxford’s title in a future Parliament. It was perhaps because he realized this that, at about this time, Oxford attempted to buy out Magdalene’s claims on the Aldgate estate by offering the college £10,000. This was an enormous sum, and would have enabled Magdalene not merely to pay off its debts but to finance new building works. However, Gooch refused Oxford’s offer, a decision which has been described by a modern authority as a tragic mistake.41

Although Gooch had never sat at Westminster before 1621, he soon emerged as one of the Commons’ most active and outspoken Members. This was nowhere more true than in matters concerning the Church, whose interests he sought to protect. Following the second reading of the bill to free fishermen from the obligation to pay tithes on their voyages (26 Feb.), Gooch single-handedly opposed the measure. He presumably felt that the bill would lessen the income available to the ministry, though if so he rather shot himself in the foot when he conceded that if any tithe were due it ought probably to be paid to the king, to whom ‘the soil of the sea’ belonged. Sir Edward Giles had argued that the bill was needed because many poor fishermen found it so difficult to pay tithes that they no longer bothered to fish. Gooch, however, refused to accept that tithes served to discourage fishing, for ‘the mariners have already the greatest encouragement that can be’ in the form of God’s promise: ‘try me whether I will bless thee’. He also pointed out that the right to levy tithes from fishermen was protected by statute, and therefore it was ‘not fit for us suddenly to take it away’. He was not heeded, however, and was barred from membership of the committee for having opposed the body of the bill.42

Gooch gave perhaps his most spirited performance of the Parliament on 23 Nov., when the bill against scandalous ministers received a second reading. He both supported and echoed the opinion of Sir Dudley Digges, who asserted that legislation was unnecessary as the law already provided for the punishment of offenders. He also added that it was unreasonable that ministers should be deprived of their livelihood for offences such as drunkenness when laymen who were found to be guilty of the same misconduct were not deprived of theirs. This was not a view that was calculated to please the hotter sort of Protestants in the House, whom Gooch had undoubtedly offended some months earlier, when he had opposed a motion to postpone Members’ communion for a week to allow time for the removal of crucifixes from St. Margaret’s church (10 February). Their displeasure can only have increased as Gooch warmed to his theme. Conceding that unworthy ministers did exist, he claimed that their number was grossly exaggerated, for ‘there were never better ministers since this kingdom stood.’ Those clergy who failed to discharge their duties adequately were a regrettable but inevitable consequence of the Church’s poverty, ‘for many have but four, five or six pounds per annum, and what worthy man can you have for such a stipend?’ After Gooch had finished speaking, Sir Jerome Horsey gave expression to what many must have been thinking: ‘he that spoke last speaks for his penny’. This jibe was immediately condemned by the House, which could not tolerate the trading of personal insults during debate.43 However, no one disputed Horsey’s conclusion, even though it seems clear that Gooch tended to speak from conviction rather than self-interest, as his contribution to the debate on a bill concerning prohibitions in matters of probate (16 May) demonstrates. Here he criticized his colleagues in the ecclesiastical courts for their complicated appeals procedures, which made litigation both slow and expensive, and opined that it was necessary to impose a time limit in such cases and to adopt ‘some better course’ in assessing reasonable costs. These views were anything but self-serving, but as they were uncontroversial no one observed that Gooch was biting the hand that fed him.44

So far as tithes and scandalous ministers were concerned Gooch found himself at variance with many of his parliamentary colleagues, but he did not court controversy for its own sake, and often spoke in agreement with other Members. For instance, his views on the Commons’ right to jurisdiction in the matter of the Catholic barrister Edward Floyd, who had disparaged the king’s daughter and her husband, reflected mainstream opinion in the Lower House: ‘This offence concerning the king’s children concerneth the king, and concerning the king, concerneth us’ (7 May). Gooch shared the view of many of his colleagues that the House enjoyed the right to administer oaths (5 May), and he undoubtedly earned approval by resisting the suggestion that the Commons should account to the Lords for their censure of Floyd (8 May), for he was one of 11 Members who were asked to speak at the forthcoming conference with representatives of the Upper House ‘as occasion shall be offered’. On returning to the chamber later that day he put a brave face on the Lords’ refusal to accept the Commons’ claim to judicature, by pointing out that the peers had not questioned the justice of the Commons’ cause, only its ‘jurisdiction and cognizance’.45 Another matter on which Gooch concurred with many of his colleagues was the usury bill, which he reported on 29 May. He argued that the bill’s aim of reducing the legal rate of interest from ten to eight per cent would ‘undo most of the gentry of England’ (7 May). Few would be prepared to lend at such a low rate, he claimed, and consequently many gentlemen would be unable to mortgage their properties when they needed ready money. With less cash in circulation to buy property, land values would plummet. Events were later to prove Gooch wrong, for the usury bill was to be enacted in 1624 with none of the dire consequences which he had predicted. Nonetheless, his erroneous opinions were shared by such prominent Members as Sir Edward Montagu, Sir George More and Sir Edward Sackville, all of whom were, like him, named to the committee even though they had spoken against the body of the bill.46

Like most Members, Gooch was appalled when the Commons was notified on 28 May that the king intended to adjourn Parliament in seven days’ time. Unlike Christopher Brooke, however, he advised the House to spend its remaining time in preparing those bills which were nearest completion rather than in seeking redress of grievances. This was not because he considered the House’s complaints to be inconsequential, as he himself catalogued the kingdom’s many woes in a lengthy speech two days later:

our religion suffers, our ordinances are bent against us, the justice of the kingdom is corrupted ... The merchant says he can trade no more, the artisan says he can work no more. The one says it is because every pack, every pedlar is trading beyond sea; the other complaineth there are too many monopolies, too many Proclamations.

Nevertheless, while admitting that Parliament had been summoned ‘to consult of the great and weighty matters of the kingdom’, and that the Commons had taken great trouble to discover the cause of all these misfortunes, he feared that ‘the time is not yet ripe’ for the House to obtain redress. He was naturally careful to avoid blaming the king for failing to remedy the situation, and instead pointed the finger of blame at Parliament. Nevertheless, he reserved harsh words for the king’s foreign policy, which had ‘run a wrong course’, having alienated the country’s erstwhile allies, the Dutch, and failed to maintain ‘the well-balanced state of Italy’. Consequently, ‘our enemies increase, [our] friends decrease’, while ‘we wax fainter’. He ended his gloom-ridden speech by urging his listeners to ‘sit down in patience and expect a better time’.47

A typical lawyer, Gooch had a fine eye for legislative detail. His forensic skills were shown to best effect in the debate following the second reading of the bill to alter the arrangements regarding the granting of administrations (29 Nov.), much of which measure he disliked. Whereas the Member for Hythe, Richard Zouche, thought that the bill required only an additional clause, Gooch concluded that it was defective in several points. As the law then stood, letters of administration were granted to the widow or next of kin, but the bill proposed that they be granted in future to no less than six people, an alteration which Gooch described as ‘very inconvenient’. In many cases, he predicted, those named as administrators would live at opposite ends of the country and so be subject to different ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Gathering them together might therefore prove difficult, if not impossible, ‘for none must be called out of their own diocese’. Gooch also objected to the clause which allowed an administrator to keep the residue of an intestate’s goods as this would allow an unscrupulous stepmother to wrong her stepchildren, ‘who, it may be, have no other portions than what may arise out of the intestate’s personal estate’. Despite these serious reservations, Gooch was not fundamentally opposed to the bill, or if he was he succeeded in conveying the impression that he was not by suggesting the addition of a clause concerning commutation of penance. He thereby avoided the indignity he had suffered nine months earlier, when he had been barred from membership of the fishermen’s tithes bill, and was appointed to the committee.48

Gooch reported the grace bill to repeal a clause in the 1543 government of Wales Act on 27 Apr., having been named to the committee on 13 March.49 His interest in this measure has not been determined, although the bishop of Worcester, whom he had previously served as chancellor, was a member of the Council in the Marches.50 On 1 Dec. he opposed at third reading the bill to permit greater freedom of fishing off North America. He concurred with Secretary Calvert, who warned that the bill would effectively destroy the American colonies.51 It is not clear why Gooch took this view, but he may already have been a member of the Council for New England, in which organization he held office as treasurer from 1622.52 Another measure on which Gooch expressed an opinion was the bill to prevent the export of wool, wool-fells and fuller’s earth, which received its third reading on 30 November. He supported a proposal to add a proviso concerning Berwick, and desired that the proportion of wool allowed ‘in this circuit’ be set at 10,000 tod.53 He approved of the bill to standardize the kingdom’s arms, telling the House on 12 May that in France it was a legal requirement that all new firearms should have the same bore, and he grew frustrated at the length of time it took both Houses to deal with this measure when it made such obvious sense to enact it. ‘Why should we dispute this [bill] so long,’ he demanded on 29 May, ‘when arms are so needful to be gotten? We were better [to] lose all the old arms than our lives. Let the kingdom be furnished with serviceable arms’.54 Gooch’s concern to improve the military readiness of the country was mirrored by his unwillingness to help arm Spain, the country’s most likely enemy. When on 13 Feb. Sir John Jephson informed the House that a hundred pieces of iron ordnance ordered by the Spanish ambassador were lying on the quayside awaiting transportation, it was Gooch who proposed lobbying the king to halt the shipment, an idea which was taken up by the House. He was anxious that action should be taken quickly, as the Spanish were in such a hurry to ship their cargo that they were offering would-be carriers of their cannon treble freight.55

Gooch participated in the debate of 11 May concerning committees composed of both nominated and unnamed members, when he pointed out an important benefit of establishing committees with open-ended memberships: ‘This provision for all to have voice the remedy, to prevent the inconvenience of not putting in those which sit far off from the chair’.56 Gooch made a particularly useful intervention on 28 May, when Hakewill proposed that no more cross bills should be presented to the House in future. Such an exclusion, remarked Gooch, would be unreasonable, as ‘if the party who doth the wrong do first prefer hither his bill, he preventeth the party grieved of his remedy’. It was doubtless for this reason that the House did not adopt Hakewill’s suggestion.57

Gooch was critical of the House’s arrangements for appointing committees. On 23 Feb. he grumbled that some Members were named to so many committees that ‘they have more businesses than they can dispatch’, and he urged the House to ‘appoint several committees [i.e. committeemen] for several matters’.58 Gooch may also have joined in the criticism of Sir James Perrot who, having been instructed by the House to search the records of the Exchequer regarding the estates of recusants, employed non-Members to do so instead. However, the relevance of his contribution to the debate (12 Mar.) is not clear from the single account of his speech which survives.59 Gooch was one of the many Members of the House who, on 10 Dec., rushed to exonerate Francis Ashley from the charge of having disparaged the king’s honour. On the following day he took notice of James’s order that the Commons cease its investigation into Henry Goldsmith. Along with John Lepton, Goldsmith stood accused of having plotted against Sir Edward Coke, who had chaired the Commons’ committee that had ordered the suppression of their patents. Although he favoured leaving the matter of judgment to the king, Gooch advised the Commons to explain its proceedings to the king and declared that Goldsmith, who had been placed in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms, should not yet be bailed.60

Although an enthusiastic contributor to debates, Gooch was named to relatively few legislative committees. In addition to those already mentioned, he was appointed to consider sheriffs’ accounts (15 Mar.); Hackney’s copyholders (added, 16 Mar.); the Edwardian Act concerning dissolving chantries (22 Mar.); recusancy (added, 11 May); the manufacture of perpetuanos (12 May); prohibitions in cases of probate (16 May); the sale of Upminster manor, Essex, to Sir Anthony Aucher* et al (added, 28 May), and the proposed unification of Freeford prebend to St. Mary’s, Lichfield (28 May). His legislative appointments also included the committee to confirm the Charterhouse hospital (7 May),61 which had been founded by the late Thomas Sutton. Gooch’s nomination to this committee may have been somehow connected to the fact that in 1614 Sutton had bequeathed Magdalene College £500 with which to buy a property in Cambridge.62

Although appointed to only a handful of committees, Gooch undoubtedly attended many others to which he had not been named. Scribbled on the first leaf of Sir Thomas Barrington’s diary of the 1621 Parliament is a note that Gooch had moved a proviso for the universities at the committee for the bill to regulate the prices in inns and hostelries.63 Gooch had not been personally nominated to this committee, which was appointed on 28 May, but he was entitled to attend its deliberations because ‘all that will come’ were allowed ‘to have voice’.64 His appearance may actually have been required by the registrar of the University of Cambridge, James Tabor, who kept in contact with Gooch on legislative matters of concern to the university. On 28 Feb. Tabor wrote to Gooch instructing him to keep an eye on bills for the maintenance of vicars of impropriate livings, which had implications for the university’s parsonages, and unlicensed tradesmen. Gooch was ordered to ‘look to’ this measure, as it ‘will be against King James’s charter, where a scholar or scholar’s servant may use any trade without contradiction or composition’. He was further required to learn as much as he could concerning a new fen drainage bill, which Tabor had correctly heard would be laid before the House. As clerk to the Cambridgeshire sewer commissioners, Tabor had entrusted Gooch with his ‘papers for the sewers’ in order to provide him with the necessary background material. Once Gooch had discovered the details of the bill, he was to report to Tabor, who would instruct him on ‘some material points to be stood upon for us’. Lastly, Gooch was to ensure that the university obtained its traditional exemption in the subsidy bill.65

Following the dissolution, Gooch was appointed to collect the Palatinate Benevolence from the clergy of Exeter diocese, for which he was to receive 2.5 per cent of all the proceeds.66 In January 1622, however, he was warned to appear before the Privy Council for failing to give himself, as a result of which he subsequently donated £20.67 In May 1622 he was elected treasurer of the newly created Council for New England in succession to the Company’s founder, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, and in October he hosted a meeting of the Council’s governing body at his chambers in Doctor’s Commons. On returning to Exeter in December 1622, Gooch took with him the Council’s common seal, obliging those who intended to fish off New England to resort to his house there for their licences.68

In January 1624 Gooch was again elected to Parliament by Cambridge University, apparently unopposed. One of his objects in seeking re-election was to renew his former legislative challenge against the earl of Oxford, who had also decided to seek statutory recognition of his title to the Aldgate estate again. Gooch’s bill received a first reading in the Commons on 5 Mar., the day after Oxford’s bill was read in the Lords. On 9 Mar. both measures were given a second reading and committed.69 Thereafter, however, Oxford’s bill made rapid progress, overcoming its final hurdle in the Lords on 29 Apr., while Gooch’s remained stuck in committee. On the following day, Oxford’s bill was given its first reading in the Commons, prompting an anxious Gooch to request that it should not receive a second reading except before a full House. However, his rival’s bill was read for a second time on 1 May, when it was placed in the hands of the committee for the Magdalene College bill. There was now little prospect of either bill being enacted, for the committee, faced with deciding between conflicting claims, preferred to choose neither. Nothing more was heard of the two bills before the very last day of the session, when both measures were ordered to rest.70

Magdalene College’s long-running dispute with the earl of Oxford was not the only piece of unfinished business from the 1621 Parliament which occupied Gooch in 1624. When the bill concerning prohibitions in matters of probate reappeared in the Commons, Gooch repeated his earlier objections to the measure (23 Feb.),71 while on 22 Mar. he ‘took divers exceptions’ to the bill against scandalous ministers, characterized by Pym as being ‘the same that were propounded by him the last Parliament’.72 In 1624, as in 1621, Gooch also played a leading role on the committee for the usury bill, reporting its proceedings on 20 Mar. and 19 Apr., although this time he proved unable to prevent the measure from being enacted.73

On 25 Feb. Gooch spoke in favour of allowing Sir Francis Popham to take his seat before the House had decided his right to represent Chippenham, arguing that precedent permitted this even if justice suggested the opposite course.74 On the following day, he proposed a proviso to the bill for easing the subject regarding common informations after he alleged that the measure was prejudicial to both universities, ‘who have by their charters power to hold pleas of information’. His intervention was promptly challenged by Sir Edward Coke, who claimed that neither university’s interests was affected by the bill, but it little mattered which of them was correct as the House decided not to proceed to commitment.75 On the following day Gooch rushed to defend the Council for New England, and therefore his own interests, after the committee for grievances heard that several ships bound for ‘Newfoundland’ [sic] had been arrested. He had good cause for concern, as in general the 1624 House of Commons took a hostile attitude towards monopolies. He began by endeavouring to allay the committee’s fears by pointing out that anyone was free to invest in the Council if he wished, adding that the Council was ‘profitable to the commonwealth’ and not merely to its shareholders, who included the duke of Buckingham and many other ‘great ones’. By mentioning Buckingham, however, Gooch sent a barely coded warning to the committee not to interfere with the interests of the royal favourite. His warning was duly heeded, for although the Council’s patent was ordered to be brought in for inspection,76 no action was taken to suppress it.

Gooch made the most courageous speech of his short parliamentary career on 1 Mar. 1624. He had demonstrated in 1621 that he was not afraid to express views which were unpopular with large sections of the House, and now, unlike a majority of his colleagues, he doubted the wisdom of abandoning the pursuit of a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Palatinate crisis. He began by striking an uncontroversial note, observing that no one should advocate breaking off the Spanish marriage treaties without first considering that this would probably lead to war. However, he then rounded on the many advocates of conflict in the House. War, he remarked, is ‘a pleasing word to men without experience’, and conflict with Spain would involve a great ‘effusion of Christian blood’. These comments alone would probably have sufficed to bring down upon their author the full fury of the House, but Gooch had only just begun. ‘The recovery of the Palatinate is impossible’, he went on, and therefore ‘it is time lost to treat of impossibilities’. While Spain and her allies could field soldiers to defend the Palatinate at 5s. 10d. apiece, England ‘cannot do it for £5’ because of the distance involved. He was sure that the Elector Palatine had a just quarrel with Spain and the emperor, but ‘what’, he demanded, ‘is that to the English?’ England was in no position to wage a war anyway, as it had not the munitions to supply an army for even one day. Before the country rushed headlong into war, consideration should be given as to ‘whether we have sufficient able men and treasure’. These observations proved too much for Gooch’s outraged listeners, and before he could go any further they drowned him out with their protests. An astonished Sir William Strode then proceeded to rebuke him for revealing the country’s military weakness, declaring it to be an ‘an invitation to our enemies’, while at the same time ridiculing his proposition that the country could not afford to wage war for more than a day.77

Gooch was named to only a handful of committees in 1624. Apart from the usury bill, those to which he was appointed concerned measures to confirm Wadham College, Oxford in its possessions (9 Mar.), to continue expiring laws (13 Mar.) and to prevent simony within the universities (12 April).78 In view of his own college’s struggle over land with the earl of Oxford, it is perhaps not surprising that he headed the committee list for the Wadham College bill. On 7 Apr. Gooch was also appointed to attend the conference with the Lords on monopolies.79

Following the adjournment, in November 1624, Gooch filed a complaint in Chancery concerning an annuity of £40 which had been granted to him by a late kinsman and was being withheld.80 He was not elected to the 1625 Parliament. In April 1625 he surrendered his possession of the house he held of the dean and chapter of Exeter, but having spent £400 on its repair he retained an interest in the property.81 He died childless at Louth, in Lincolnshire, on 29 Jan. 1626. In his will, which was drawn up on 29 Oct. 1624, he left the place of his burial to his widow, Elizabeth, and bequeathed a total of £680 to his six nephews. Some of the lands which he had recently purchased in and around Alvingham were to be set aside for his step-daughter, Pascha, while the rest of his Lincolnshire properties were to be conferred on his widow for her lifetime. Gooch further instructed that, after Elizabeth’s death, the income from her share of the Lincolnshire lands, amounting to £24 p.a., was to be used to maintain two fellowships at Magdalene College, whose holders were to read civil law, even though the college statutes permitted fellows to study only divinity. After Elizabeth’s death, the fellowships were established in accordance with Gooch’s wishes, but the revenues to sustain them were paid for only one year. Thereafter, as one modern authority has observed, Dr. Gooch’s fellows proved to be ‘an embarrassment to Magdalene’.82

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. The Gen.(ser. 1), vi. 156.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; Hist. Magdalene Coll. ed. P. Cunich et al. 102.
  • 3. Exeter Cathedral Archives, ms 3553, f. 79; PROB 11/149, f. 118r-v.
  • 4. C142/422/47.
  • 5. G.D. Squibb, Doctors’ Commons, 170.
  • 6. Historical Reg. Camb. Univ. to 1910 ed. J.R. Tanner, 30; Al. Cant.
  • 7. Worcs. RO, BA 2513/7, p. 301; BA 2513/10, p. 477.
  • 8. Exeter Cathedral Archives, ms 3553, f. 52; C181/2, f. 348.
  • 9. Gooch is described as judge of the Devon Admlty. Ct. in B.P. Levack, Civil Lawyers of Eng. 233, and is listed as such in an undated commission of c.1615: HCA 1/32/1, f. 31. However, the judge of the Devon Admlty. Ct. between 1613 and 1620 was actually Jasper Swift: HCA 14/41, f. 219; HCA 25/215, bdle. of warrants 1619-44.
  • 10. DEL 5/6, ff. 22, 133.
  • 11. DEL 8/70, ff.16r-v, 34-5v.
  • 12. Ex officio, as vice-chan. Camb. Univ.: C66/1786, dorse; C.H. Cooper, Annals of Camb. iii. 46.
  • 13. C231/4, f. 189.
  • 14. Ex officio, as vice-chan. Camb. Univ.: C181/2, f. 84.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 242v; 181/3, ff. 1, 73, 176.
  • 16. C212/22/21, 23.
  • 17. E403/2741 (Easter 1622), f. 45v; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 150.
  • 18. SP16/88/16.
  • 19. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 351.
  • 20. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 83. Name mis-spelt ‘Souch’.
  • 21. ‘Recs. of Council for New Eng.’, Procs. American Antiq. Soc. 1867, pp. 59-60; HCA 13/45, ff. 18-19.
  • 22. The Gen. (ser. 1), vi. 155.
  • 23. HP Commons 1509-58, sub Robert Googe.
  • 24. HMC Hatfield, ii. 522; N and Q (ser. 3), iii. 283.
  • 25. Hist. Magdalene, 102-5.
  • 26. Ibid. 45.
  • 27. Ibid. 79-80; Harl. 1767, ff. 29v-30; Coke, 11th Rep. 66b-8a.
  • 28. Cooper, iii. 46-7; J. Heywood and T. Wright, Cambridge Univ. Trans. ii. 252.
  • 29. Heywood and Wright, 240-9.
  • 30. M.B. Rex, Univ. Representation in Eng. 1604-90, pp. 63-4; Cambs. Antiquarian Soc. Procs. xvii. 204-9. For the head’s certificate, see CUL, UA Elect L.5 no.1.
  • 31. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 227, 231.
  • 32. Cunich, 81.
  • 33. Harl. 1767, f. 30v.
  • 34. Cooper, iii. 91, asserts that their application for release was initially unsuccessful. However, they had been freed by 16 Feb. 1616, when Gooch wrote to Cambridge’s Vice-Chan. from Doctors’ Commons: The Eagle, Dec. 1901, pp. 12-13.
  • 35. Rolle’s Reps. (1675), p. 278; SIR EDWARD COKE.
  • 36. Northants. RO, E(B) 638; Cunich 80-2.
  • 37. Cooper, iii. 91.
  • 38. CJ, i. 511b.
  • 39. CUL, CUR 50, item 2.
  • 40. CJ, i. 607a, 655a; CD 1621, iii. 158-9; iv. 299-300; v. 370; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 17.
  • 41. Hist. Magdalene, 82; J.B. Mullinger, Univ. of Cambridge 1535 to Accession of Chas. I, 495.
  • 42. CJ, i. 527a; CD 1621, ii. 136; iv. 104; v. 513.
  • 43. CJ, i. 516b, 643a; CD 1621, ii. 439; iii. 432-3; vi. 432.
  • 44. CD 1621, iv. 531.
  • 45. CJ, i. 610b, 612b, 614a-b; CD 1621, ii. 347-8; iii. 176-7, 211; iv. 309-10; v. 144-5, 368; vi. 141-2.
  • 46. CJ, i. 611a, 631a; CD 1621, iii. 184; iv. 315; v. 148.
  • 47. CD 1621, ii. 408; iii. 330, 351; vi. 179; CJ, i. 631b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 126.
  • 48. CJ, 650b; Nicholas, ii. 247; CD 1621, ii. 470; vi. 210.
  • 49. CJ, i. 551b, 593b; CD 1621, iv. 256.
  • 50. Cal. Wynn of Gwydir Pprs. 809.
  • 51. CJ, i. 654a.
  • 52. However, he was not among the original patentees of 1620: C.S. Brigham, ‘Recs. of Council for New Eng.’, Procs. American Antiq. Soc. 1912, p. 241.
  • 53. CJ, i. 653b.
  • 54. CD 1621, ii. 361; iii. 237, 343.
  • 55. CJ, i. 519b.
  • 56. Ibid. 616b.
  • 57. Nicholas, ii. 108.
  • 58. CD 1621, ii. 126.
  • 59. CJ, i. 550b.
  • 60. CD 1621, ii. 512; vi. 231, 233.
  • 61. CJ, i. 555a, 556a, 568b, 612b, 617a, 619a, 622a, 628a, 631a.
  • 62. Hist. Magdalene, 104.
  • 63. Essex RO, D/Dba F1/5, f. 1v.
  • 64. CJ, i. 628a-b.
  • 65. CUL, CUR 50, item 2. The addressee is not named, but it cannot have been Gooch’s fellow Member for the university, (Sir) Robert Naunton, as he had been placed under house arrest.
  • 66. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 150.
  • 67. SP14/127/48; 14/156/15.
  • 68. ‘Recs. of Council for New Eng.’, Procs. American Antiq. Soc. 1867, pp. 66, 94; M. Christy, ‘Attempts towards Colonization: the Council for New Eng.’ AHR, iv. 696.
  • 69. CJ, i. 677a, 680a; LJ, iii. 244b, 253b.
  • 70. LJ, iii. 304a, 327b; CJ, i. 694b, 695b, 696b, 715b, 779b, 798b.
  • 71. CJ, i. 672a.
  • 72. ‘Pym 1624’, f. 38v.
  • 73. CJ, i. 744a, 771a. For discussion of the bill, and its 1621 predecessor, see N. Jones, God and the Moneylenders, 192, 195.
  • 74. CJ, i. 717b.
  • 75. Ibid. 674b, 719b.
  • 76. ‘Spring 1624’, p. 39.
  • 77. Ibid. 55-6; ‘Pym 1624’, f.13; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 39. T. Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, 166-7, 177-9. Cogswell claims, incorrectly, that Gooch denied the need for defensive preparations.
  • 78. CJ, i. 680a, 736b, 762b.
  • 79. Ibid. 757b.
  • 80. C2/Jas.I/G15/9.
  • 81. Exeter Cathedral Archives, ms 3553, f. 125v.
  • 82. PROB 11/149, f. 118r-v; Hist. Magdalene, 109.