Goffe, Thomas (DNB00)

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GOFFE or GOUGH, THOMAS (1591–1629), divine and poet, son of a clergyman, was born in Essex in 1591. He went as a queen's scholar to Westminster School, whence he was elected at the age of eighteen to a scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford, 3 Nov. 1609. He proceeded B.A. 17 June 1613; M.A. 20 June 1616; and B.D. 3 July 1623; being also incorporated M.A. at Cambridge in 1617. He afterwards entered the church, and in 1620 received the living of East Clandon, Surrey (Manning, Surrey, iii. 50). Meantime Goffe had won reputation as an orator, and publicly delivered two Latin orations of his own composition, one at the funeral of William Goodwin [q. v.], dean of Christ Church, in the cathedral in 1620, and another, in the Theological School at Oxford, on the death in 1622 of Sir Henry Savile. Both were published (Oxford, 1620 and 1622, 4to). Besides these Goffe published some verses on the death of Queen Anne of Denmark in 1619. He wrote plays, not published till after his death, but his three principal tragedies were acted after 1616, while he was still at the university, by the students of Christ Church. Besides his tragedies, which are absurdly bombastic, he wrote a tragi-comedy, ‘The Careless Shepherdess.’ It was acted with applause before the king and queen at the theatre in Salisbury Court, but not published till 1656 (London, 4to). At the end it contains an alphabetical catalogue, which is, however, very incorrect, of ‘all such plays as ever were printed.’ At the end of his life Goffe, who was ‘a quaint preacher and a person of excellent language and expression,’ took to sermon writing, but only one, entitled ‘Deliverance from the Grave,’ which he preached at St. Mary Spittle, London, 28 March 1627, seems to have been published (London, 1627, 4to). He was a woman-hater and a bachelor, until finally inveigled into marrying a lady at East Clandon, who pretended to have fallen in love with his preaching. She was the widow of his predecessor, and she and her children by her first husband so persecuted poor Goffe that he died shortly after his marriage, and was buried, 27 July 1629, in the middle of the chancel of East Clandon Church. According to Aubrey, one of his Oxford friends, Thomas Thimble, had predicted the result of his marriage, and when he died the last words he uttered were: ‘Oracle, oracle, Tom Thimble!’ (Aubrey, Hist. of Surrey, iii. 259).

Goffe left various plays in manuscript. Three were afterwards published, viz. ‘The Raging Turk, or Bajazet the Second,’ London, 1631, 4to; ‘The Couragious Turk, or Amureth the First, a Tragedie,’ in five acts and in verse, London, 1632, 4to; ‘The Tragedie of Orestes,’ in five acts and in verse, London, 1633, 4to. In 1656 one Richard Meighen, a friend of the deceased poet, collected these plays in one volume, under the title of ‘Three excellent Tragedies,’ 2nd edit., London, 1656, 8vo. ‘The Bastard,’ another tragedy published under Goffe's name in 1652, seems to have been by Cosmo Manuche. Two other plays have been wrongly ascribed to Goffe: ‘Cupid's Whirligig,’ a comedy by E. S., and ‘The Emperor Selimus,’ a tragedy published in 1594, when Goffe was a child of two. On the title-page of one of the copies of his only extant sermon, in the Bodleian Library, a manuscript note states that Goffe became a Roman catholic before his death, but the source quoted for this statement, the ‘Legenda Lignea’ (in the Bodleian Library), refers to Stephen Goffe [q. v.]

[Authorities above cited; Gent. Mag. xlviii. 558; Baker's Biog. Dram.; Langbaine's Dramatick Poets, p. 233; Brayley's Hist. of Surrey, ii. 51, &c.; Oxf. Univ. Reg. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Welch's Alumni Westmonast. 79; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), ii. 463; Wood's Fasti, i.]

E. T. B.