Colonel John Goulding of Milton, Massachusetts goes Ranger on the French and gets a Knighthood, 1758

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The Seven Years War, better known to Americans as The French and Indian War was in its third year. To bring it to an end, the decision was made to take out Quebec and to make it part of English North America. Winning the war would take several more years. However, there was little chance of victory without taking out the French fortress of Louisbourg.

Louisbourg’s fortress guarded the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River and access to French Canada.

Although his name is recorded in The History of Milton, Massachusetts (1887) as ‘Golding’, our guy is really a Goulding. John Goulding comes from a long line of Gouldings and his descendants are also Gouldings.

Colonel John Goulding, born 3 Oct 1726 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, was a second generation American. His parents were Captain Palmer Goulding (1695 – 1770) and Abigail Rice (1700 – 1772). His immigrant grandparents were Captain Peter Goulding (1635 – 1703), born in and descended from the Gouldings of Shipdam, Essex, England,  and Sarah Palmer (1634 – 1703).

Milton Massachusetts
The History of Milton, Mass.: 1640 to 1887, chap. XIII – French and Indian War, pg. 415

Colonel John Goulding was a Massachusetts Militia leader called upon to organize local forces to support the British attack on the Louisbourg fortress. Only one aspect of his role is known, but as history records it it was ‘… a conspicuous part’. Colonel Golding outfitted his troops with ropes and long hooks which were thrown over the fortress walls. Using the ropes, his troops climbed the fortress walls and successfully took their part of the fortification. For his ingenuity and success, Colonel Goulding was knighted and became Sir John Goulding.

There is no record that I can find however that he chose to go by ‘Sir John Goulding’. I have searched for any evidence of Colonel Goulding being knighted. I can find none; see master list of knighted individuals.

Married to Lucy Brooks, February 22nd, 1753 at age 26 at Grafton, Worchester, Massachusetts. Only one child of this marriage is known: Phebe Goulding, 1767 – 1851.

Gravestone of Colonel John Goulding

The gravestone of John Goulding is quite unique in that it bears the Goulding family crest. Unlike today, the use of coats-of-arms was regulated by law. There had to be an association of a bearer and an authorization to be associated with that coat-of-arms.

Goulding - Coll John - 1791 - Grafton Massachusetts
Original Gravestone.

Note that Colonel Goulding’s gravestone is decorated with a Son of the American Revolution device.

Revolutionary War – Colonel Goulding was called back to duty in January 1776 and he served throughout the war as the 1st Colonel, 6th Worcester Co., egt. of Mass. militia; list of field officers of regts. of Worcester Co. militia proposed by Legislature Jan.12, 1776; regiment made up of Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Northborough, and Grafton; also, list of officers chosen in 6th Worcester Co. regt., as returned by said Goulding and others, field officers, dated Westborough, April 15, 1776; ordered in Council April 17, 1776, that said officers be commissioned. Source: Massachusetts Soldiers & Sailors, pg. 690.

I have previously written about Colonel John Goulding. His life, and the life of his family, is well documented. His role in The French and Indian war is new information to me, as is his knighthood.

You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden,

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.