John Golding of Gloucester, Virginia 1651 / Who were his parents?

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Updated 2015.02.22 / Significant revisions!

Who were the parents of John Golding that came as an imported person in 1651 to Gloucester, Virginia with Richard Ripley?


My belief is that John’s father’s name was William Golding, and that he was possibly the Rev. William Golding/Goulding (hereafter ‘Golding’) of Massachusetts, having resided there to some degree by 1640. The reverend, referred to as a minister in documents of the period, appears to have had a home on either Barbados or Bermuda, or in one of ‘the Somers Isles’ such as Eleuthera. The Rev Willliam Golding was very much real and numerous aspects of his life are well documented.

The Rev William Golding of the Somers Isles passed away in 1648 and left a most enlightening last will and testament. We know that he had only one child, named John (born by April 23rd, 1630 (1) as he was christened and baptized in that month), the Rev Golding had a wife named Elizabeth, nee Chaddock, who was stepmother to John, and that the Rev Golding had property in Devonshire (Bermuda), which John inherited.

Special Historical Note: Some records indicate that the Rev Golding died in 1648 in Massachusetts. the Somers Isles was considered as being part of the same colonization ecosystem as the mainland of North America. The islands and the Carolinas were actually considered part of the same territory. There was constant and frequent travel between them. They were not considered separate entities, either politically or economically. The Somers Isles also maintained a special relationship with Massachusetts. Travel to and from was also constant and frequent. So there is no reason that the Rev Golding could not have died in Massachusetts, with his will being filed with the Chancery on the island of Bermuda, in the Somers Isles. It was not until after 1670 that the islands began to have unique political characteristics of their own. However, the relationship with the Carolinas continued well past 1730; South Carolina was considered a plantation region for the Bermudans and Bahamans.

My theory is that the Goldings had a relationship with the Ripley’s before ever immigrating from England. After William died I believe that the Ripleys took John Golding into their family. It was common practice that orphans were legally given over to a sponsor until they reached adulthood (usually age 16). When the Ripley’s decided to expand their landholdings in Virginia at Gloucester in 1651 then John Golding was taken under the wing of Richard Ripley.

>> There is a timeline challenge that must be explained: it commonly listed in many genealogies that the John Golding that married Elizabeth Ripley was born in 1640, not 1630.

Setting the Circumstantial Scene

Once we refocus on Massachusetts and on the Ripley family then we have a candidate that qualifies as a second son Englishman settling in America.

A second son is the non-eldest son of a family; he also could be the third or fourth or fifth son. By law he does not stand to directly inherit anything upon the passing of his father as it all goes to the first son. Much of early America was settled by second sons with a good name but with limited opportunity at home.

The Ripley family is important because we know so much about it. The Ripleys and Goldings always seem to be in the same place at the same time from about 1575 onward, whether in England or in America.

William Golding’s story is also interconnected with the Ripleys of Hingham, Massachusetts.

The Virginia Golding story most definitely begins with John Golding marrying Elizabeth Ripley (1639-1683), daughter of William Ripley of Hingham, Massachusetts, and sister to Richard Ripley. The marriage was at Gloucester, Virginia where William Ripley had established a satellite plantation, among others.

Focus by many researchers has been on identifying a Golding immigrating from England directly to Virginia, but what if William Golding came from England by way of Barbados and Massachusetts instead?

Social status mattered greatly at this time and marriage was among those most often of equal status. When John Golding of Gloucester married Elizabeth Ripley in 1658 then he must have had some good family status about him.

My theory is that William Ripley’s son, Richard Ripley (b.1619 England – 1711 Essex, Virginia), brought John Golding with him from Massachusetts in 1651 for the purpose of establishing a plantation at Gloucester, Virginia.

Barbados/Bermuda and Church problems

The Rev William Golding was an Anglican clergy. He went to Barbados with two other clergy to establish a church. While in Barbados he renounced the Church and became a Congregationalist minister. By 1640 he resided in the Hingham, Massachusetts area.

>> Other records agree as to the date that he went to Barbados but show that he and the other two clergy arrived as Puritans to replace a Puritan minister that had died in 1637 (2).

>> There was also a Reverend John Golding at Bermuda. He died in 1648, (2, pg 74). He married Mary Waylett, daughter of Richard Waylett, and the wife of his ministerial predecessor. The Wayletts appear to have come from Devonshire, Suffolk, England. Certainly they owned property there. What was the relationship, if any, between this John Golding and the Rev William Golding/Goulden? It is very unlikely that the John Golding born to the Rev William Goulden in 1630 is the same John Golding that died in 1648.

Several theories have floated about that all three of Percival Golding’s sons immigrated to Barbados between 1635-1638. One was named William. It has been thought that this William was the Rev William Golding. The Goldings certainly had a pedigree of Protestantism derived from the writings and work of their grandfather Arthur Golding.

However, the great Golding historian Louis Thorn Golding dismissed any connection, after having paid for research into the Rev William Golding’s life, and even traveling to England to do research in the 1930s. Louis Thorn claimed to have even met descendents of the Rev William Golding in England and been presented with evidence from the national archive documenting that Percival’s son William had lived and died in England.

Of note, two male descendents of the Arthur/Percival Golding line have taken YDNA tests and their haplogroup type is ‘I’. There are no known Goldings in the American South, out of almost 70 tested, that test as ‘I’. All are ‘G’ or ‘R’.

So whether we can ever verify John Golding of Gloucester, Virginia’s parentage, we must continue looking for the parental heritage of the Rev William Golding as well if we want to answer the question of A) are they related, and B) what more can we learn about this line.


Ripleys and Goldings arrive in 1638 aboard the Diligent which sailed from Ipswich, England, or Goldings arrive at some time within a few months of Ripley’s documented arrival.

Gloucester, Virginia 1651

Richard Ripley, son of William Ripley, acquires a land patent in Gloucester, 1651. John Golding may have been apprenticed or indentured to Richard for the standard period of seven years. Seven years after arriving,  John marries Richard’s sister Elizabeth in 1658 — the year in which his indenture would have been expired.

… to be continued.

Notes to self et al

(1) Bermuda Settlers of the 17th Century: Genealogical Notes from Bermuda by Julia E. Mercer (1942), p. 78.

(2) American Presbyterianism: Its Origin and Early History : Together with an Appendix of Letters by Charles Augustus Briggs (1885), pg. 90

Research Golding, William jr 4-165-1718/7-1718
Thomas Fox, William Cammel, wf Elizabeth ,father, Wf Extrx Witt:
George Knight, Richard Bull, John White p 151 (probate the witness
john white is dec’d)

Research William Golding and the Sermon of the Salamander.