J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Lt. Gould Gets Married

After the Battle of Bunker Hill, Lt. Edward Thoroton Gould sailed for England. He had been wounded in the fighting at Concord and held prisoner by the provincials for a month. Some of his fellow British officers probably resented how during that time he’d signed a deposition generally supporting the provincials’ view of how the war began. But Gould was rich, and didn’t need to remain in the army.

Another officer in the 4th Regiment, the third Viscount Falmouth, asked Gould to take letters to his mother, Frances Boscawen (1719-1805). The lieutenant also apparently visited his sister, who had married a brother of the Earl of Sussex. Lord Sussex had a daughter, the Hon. Barbara Yelverton. And this is where the gossip starts.

In October 1775, Edward and Barbara eloped across the Scottish border and married in Gretna Green. Scottish law allowed girls to marry without their parents’ consent earlier than in England, so that town became eighteenth-century Britain’s equivalent of Las Vegas when it came to no-questions-asked weddings.

Boscawen wrote to a friend on 1 November:

Have you not pitied poor Lady Sussex, my dear Madam? . . . My lord has made a will, which cuts off this ungrateful child with a shilling, but it is to be hoped he will live to cancel it and forgive her; but it must be a very bad child, I should fear, that can plant a dagger in her parents’ breasts, in return for all their care and tenderness: such a child too! The boldness amazes me. She was sixteen last June.
Actually the new Mrs. Barbara Gould was only fifteen, having been born in 1760.

Gould sold his lieutenant’s commission, effectively retiring from the army, in January 1776. He testified about the start of the American war in London the next year. The Goulds had three children before Barbara died on 8 Apr 1781 at the age of twenty. Eleven years later Edward remarried, to the Hon. Anne Dormer, eldest daughter of the eighth Baron Dormer.

Gould served as a justice of the peace and one term as high sheriff of Nottingham. Starting in 1781, he helped to command the Nottinghamshire militia, and thus attained the title of colonel. He volunteered for service in Spain in 1808 and retired only in 1819. A widower once more, Gould moved to Paris, where he died on 15 Feb 1830.

Gould’s son, Henry, became the 19th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, inheriting the title through his mother. He was a tenant and, for a while, pal of the young Lord Byron. Most scholars suggest their falling-out was over sex—did Grey try to seduce Byron? Or did Byron resent Grey flirting with Byron’s mother? Or both? Byron wouldn’t tell even his sister what had happened. Baron Grey died in 1810, his father outliving him by twenty years. According to the family of one of Gould’s fellow lieutenants, both the colonel and the baron proved to be “wild and dissipated” men.

(Photo of Gretna Green today by Ian Britton, via FreeFoto.)

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