Gouge, William (DNB00)

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GOUGE, WILLIAM, D.D. (1578–1653), puritan divine, son of Thomas Gouge, a gentleman of good descent, was born at Stratford-le-Bow, Middlesex. In the life by his son the date of his birth is given as 1 Nov. 1575, but it appears from the ‘Protocollum Book’ of King's College, Cambridge, that he was born on 25 Dec. 1578. His mother was a daughter of Nicholas Culverwel, a London merchant; her brothers, Samuel and Ezekiel, were noted as preachers; her sisters were married to Laurence Chaderton [q. v.], master of Emmanuel, and William Whitaker, master of St. John's, Cambridge. Gouge was educated, first at St. Paul's School, next for three years at the grammar school of Felstead, Essex, where his uncle Ezekiel was vicar, then for six years at Eton, whence he went (1595) as a scholar to King's College, Cambridge. He earned much repute as a logician and defender of Ramus, graduated B.A. in 1598, and was admitted fellow on 25 Aug., proceeding M.A. in 1602. He was lecturer on logic and philosophy in his college, and taught Hebrew, having been the only steadfast pupil of a Jew who came to Cambridge to give instruction in that language. His strictness of life and constant attendance at prayers gained him the name of an ‘arch-puritan.’

In accordance with his father's wish Gouge left Cambridge between Lady day and Midsummer 1604, in order to marry. In 1607 he took holy orders, and in June 1608, while living at Stratford-le-Bow, he was recommended by Arthur Hildersham [q. v.] as a suitable preacher for St. Anne's, Blackfriars. The rector was Stephen Egerton [q. v.], a noted puritan, but for some reason he did not preach. Gouge for a time took his place without pay, was then elected by the parishioners as their lecturer, was incorporated M.A. (11 July 1609) at Oxford, commenced B.D. (1611) at Cambridge, and on Egerton's death (1621) succeeded to the rectory. He found the parish without any church of its own, and raised over 1,500l. among the parishioners for the purchase of a building and subsequent (1613) enlargement of the fabric, obtaining in addition a rectory house and other parish property. He preached twice every Sunday, and held a Wednesday lecture, which maintained its popularity for five and thirty years. In April 1621 Gouge got into trouble as the editor of ‘The World's Great Restauration,’ by Sir Henry Finch [q. v.] He was imprisoned for nine weeks, some speculations in the book being considered treasonable; he obtained his release on presenting six propositions on the ‘calling of the Jews,’ which Archbishop Abbot deemed satisfactory. In 1626 he was one of twelve trustees of a scheme for buying up impropriations, in order to foster a puritan ministry. The trustees spent between 5,000l. and 6,000l., and bought in thirteen impropriations, when at Laud's instance the court of exchequer adjudged the society an illicit corporation (13 Feb. 1633), and handed over their impropriations to the crown. A threatened prosecution in the Star-chamber was dropped. Gouge proceeded D.D. in 1628. In 1633, as previously in 1618, he refused to read the ‘Book of Sports.’

He was nominated a member of the Westminster Assembly by the parliamentary ordinance of 12 June 1643. No member of the assembly was more assiduous in attendance. He was placed (1644) on the committee for examination of ministers, and (12 May 1645) on the committee for drafting a confession of faith. On the death of Herbert Palmer, B.D., he was elected (25 Nov. 1647) one of the two assessors, and on 8 Dec. he and his co-assessor, Cornelius Burges [q. v.], were appointed to fill the prolocutor's chair alternately. The presbyterian system he held to be jure divino; on 21 June 1648 his name was set first on a committee for marshalling texts in support of this view. In the same year he was one of the divines selected to draw up the assembly's annotations, the part assigned to him being from 1 Kings to Esther inclusive.

Gouge took the covenant without scruple, and was desirous that the presbyterian organisation should be fully established. At the first meeting of the provincial assembly of London (3 May 1647) he was chosen prolocutor, and opened the assembly with a sermon at Blackfriars. He was regarded as ‘the father of the London ministers.’ In politics he played no part, but in common with most presbyterians he was monarchical in principle, and shrank from the king's trial as a breach of the covenant as well as of the constitution. He signed the ‘Vindication’ drawn up by Burges on the eve of the trial, in which that measure is strongly denounced. In his private character Gouge was a model of the gentle scholar, rising before daylight to pursue his studies, never wasting a moment, devout with a puritan strictness and simplicity, never ruffled in temper, declining preferment (the provostship of King's was offered to him), and finding his recreation in works of charity. Having a ‘competent’ patrimony, he spent his income with a wise liberality, especially interesting himself in providing for the education of poor scholars at the university. In his later years he suffered much from asthma and stone, and abandoned preaching. Till within a week of his death he was working at a commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, which he hoped to finish. He died on 12 Dec. 1653, and was buried on 16 Dec. in his church, where there is a monument to his memory erected by Meliora Prestley, his great-granddaughter. His funeral sermon was preached by William Jenkyn [q. v.], for twelve years his assistant. His portrait, engraved (1653) by John Dunstall [q. v.], is rude, but lifelike; he wears a ruff. There is another engraving of him (1655) by William Faithorne the elder [q. v.], and a third by Stent. He married the orphan daughter of Henry Caulton, a London merchant, and had seven sons and six daughters; eight of his children reached maturity. His eldest son was Thomas (1609–1681) [q. v.]; his eldest daughter Elizabeth (d. 9 May 1676, aged 51) married Richard Roberts, ejected from Coulsdon, Surrey. He published: 1. ‘Domestical Duties,’ &c., 2nd edit. 1626, fol. 2. ‘The Whole Armour of God,’ &c., 1619, 4to; 1627, fol. 3. ‘The Calling of the Jewes,’ &c., 1621, 4to. 4. ‘A Guide to go to God … Explanation of the Lord's Prayer,’ &c. 2nd edit. 1626, 4to. 5. ‘God's Three Arrows,’ &c., 1631, 4to. 6. ‘The Saints Sacrifice, or a Comment on Psalm cxvi.,’ &c., 1632, 4to. 7. ‘A Recovery from Apostacy,’ &c., 1639, 4to. 8. ‘The Saints Support,’ &c., 1642, 4to (Sermon, Neh. v. 19, before the House of Commons). 9. ‘The Progress of Divine Providence,’ &c., 1645, 4to (Sermon, Ex. xxxvi. 11, before the House of Lords). 10. ‘The Right Way,’ &c., 1648, 4to (Sermon, Ezra viii. 21, before the House of Lords). Also several other sermons, including ‘Funeral Sermon for Margaret Ducke,’ 1646, and two catechisms. Posthumous was 11. ‘A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews,’ &c., 1655, fol. 2 vols. (finished at his death, except one half chapter; embodies the substance of nearly a thousand sermons preached at Blackfriars); reprinted 1866, 8vo, 3 vols.

[Funeral Sermon by Jenkyn, 1654; Life, by Thomas Gouge, prefixed to Commentary on Hebrews, 1655; also in Clarke's Lives of Thirty-two English Divines, 1677, p. 234 sq.; and, with slight additions, in Middleton's Biographia Evangelica, 1784, iii. 267 sq., 457; Wood's Athenæ Oxon, 1691, i. 807; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, ii. 737 sq.; Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, 1779, ii. 534; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, 1813, iii. 165 sq.; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, 1822, iii. 325, 449 sq., iv. 76; Granger's Biog. Hist. of Eng., 1823, ii. 359; Mitchell & Struthers's Minutes of Westminster Assembly, 1874, pp. 91, 493, 495, 525; Mitchell's Westminster Assembly, 1883, p. 437; Urwick's Nonconf. in Herts, 1884, pp. 360, 523; extracts from registers of King's College, Cambridge, per the provost.]

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