John Gorsuch, DD

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John Gorsuch, DD

Also Known As: "Rev. John Gorsuch"
Birthdate: (40)
Birthplace: Walkerne, Hertfordshire, England
Death: Died in Wilburton, Cambridgeshire, England
Cause of death: Killed by Puritan soldiers during the English Civil War.
Place of Burial: Wilburton, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Daniel Gorsuch and Alice Gorsuch
Husband of Anne Gorsuch
Father of David / Daniel Gorsuch; John Gorsuch, II; William Gorsuch; Katharine Whitby; Robert Gorsuch and 6 others
Brother of Katherine Haynes

Occupation: Reverend, was married by 1628, Rector of the Parish of Walkern in Kent
Managed by: J
Last Updated:

About John Gorsuch, DD

John Gorsuch Rev. died about 1648. He was buried on 24 May 1648 in Wilburton, Cambridgeshire, England. He was born in England.

He was married to Ann LOVELACE (daughter of Sir William LOVELACE and Anne BARNES) in 1628. Ann LOVELACE was born before 1611 in probably Kent Co. England. She died before Jun 1652 in Virginia. John Gorsuch Rev. and Ann LOVELACE had the following children:

child+2 i. Lovelace Gorsuch.

child+3 ii. Frances Gorsuch.

child+4 iii. Daniel Gorsuch.

child5 iv. John Gorsuch was born about 1630 in England.

child+6 v. William Gorsuch.

child+7 vi. Katharine (Kath) Gorsuch.

child+8 vii. Robert Gorsuch.

child+9 viii. Richard Gorsuch.

child+10 ix. Anne Gorsuch.

child11 x. Elizabeth Gorsuch was born about 1641 in Walkern Parish, Hertfordshire. England. She was baptized on 13 May 1641 in Walkern Hertfordshire. England.

child+12 xi. Charles GORSUCH.

Rev. John Gorsuch & Anne Lovelace John Gorsuch became Rector of Walkern (Walkhorne) Parish (in Hertford Parish), Hertfordshire, England July 28, 1632, his father having purchased this rectory for him. As one of the zealous and aggressive Royalists, perfidious charges were laid against him, and he was evicted from Walkern in1642. He is said to have been smothered in a haymow, about 1647, while attempting to evade his pursuers, but there is no actual proof as to just how he came to die.

Following his death, the widow and at least seven of her children came to Lancaster County, Virginia about 1650. (Records show 1652) He received his Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Cambridge University and became the Rector of Walkern.

Additional Note: Rev John Gorsuch was an Anglican Priest who spoke loudly in favor of King Charles I. His exact cause of death is shrouded in mystery but an Anglican Book of Martyrs lists him as having been killed by the Cromwell forces.

Rev. John Gorsuch made a will in 1638 leaving much lands, money, rentals, etc. A beautiful tomb bearing Gorsuch Coat of Arms stands the in cemetery where John is buried.

John Gorsuch Rev. died about 1648. He was buried on 24 May 1648 in Wilburton, Cambridgeshire, England. He was married to Ann LOVELACE in 1628.
Ann LOVELACE was born before 1611 in probably Kent Co. England. She died before Jun 1652 in Virginia. Children were: 

i. Lovelace Gorsuch signed a will on 1 Jan 1702. He died about 1703 He had an estate probated on 3 Mar 1703 in Dorchester Co. MD. ii. Frances Gorsuch iii. DanielGorsuch was born in 1628 in England. He died in England. iv. John Gorsuch was born about 1630 in England. v. William Gorsuch died about 1698 in England. He was born BET 1630/1631 in England where he was buried. vi. Katharine Gorsuch was born in 1633 in Walkern Hertfordshire, England. She was baptized on 26 Nov 1633 in Walkern Hertfordshire, England. vii. Robert Gorsuch was born in 1635 in England. He was baptized on 19 Nov 1635 in Walkern Hertfordshire, England. He died in 1720 in Maryland. viii. Richard Gorsuch was born in 1637 in England. He was baptized on 19 Apr 1637 in Walkern, Hertfordshire. England. He died before 2 Apr 1677 in Talbot Co. MD. ix. Anne Gorsuch was born in 1638. She was baptized on 13 Mar 1638 in Walkern, Hertfordshire. England. x. Elizabeth Gorsuch was born about 1641 in Walkern Parish, Hertfordshire, England. She was baptized on 13May 1641 in Walkern Hertfordshire, England. xi. Charles Gorsuch.


2273. Anne Barne Lovelace

She married Rev. John GORSUCH abt 1628 in Scotland. Anne died 1652 in LancasterCounty, Virginia, at age 41 early in the year. Sister to Richard Lovelace the "poet." After the death of her husband, Anne and seven of her children came to Virginia.

The children, Robert, Richard, Anne, Elizabeth, Charles, Lovelaceand Katherine Gorsuch were listed as headright in two patents for a total of 850 acres in Lancaster County issued to Theophilus Hone, 22 February 1652/53. Anne Lovelace was apparently in Virginia by 1651 and she died before 2 June 1652 when letters of administration were issued in England to "Daniel Gorsuch, sone of Anne Gorsuch, late of Weston, County Hertford, but deceased in parts beyond the seas, widow. "ANNE LOVELACE, married Rev. John GORSUCH, son of Danyell GORSUCH, Alderman's Deputy, Bishop's Gate Ward, 1633, who married Alice HALL, daughter of John HALL, of Lind. Danyell GORSUCH was a son of WILLIAM GORSUCH descended out of Lancashire from Gorsuch of Ormschurch, who married Alice HILLSON.

Born in Lovelace, Kent, England Sister of Richard Lovelace, the poet who wrote "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage" Had eleven children, the eldest not yet twenty, she emigrated with seven of them to America about1652. They settled in Lancaster Co., Va. She died 1652 in Gloucester Co., Virginia or at sea. The younger children petititioned the Lancaster Court in have their sister, Katheryn, named guardian of their estate in England and Francis Morrison, Esq., guardian of estate. The Gorsuchs converted to Quakerism and settled in Maryland.

john Gorsuch became rector of Walkern in the 1630s, in the climate of political and religious turbulence preceding the English Civil War. In fact he was one of the few village priests to be ejected from their living by Act of Parliament. Ultimately, this was to lead to his mysterious death, and the emigration of much of his family to America…

This article is taken from Esme Overman’s booklet ‘Gorsuch: Parish Priest’, and thanks go to her family for allowing us to use her writings. From London to Walkern

His father, Daniel, had inherited property in London where he and Alice his wife and their three children John, Katherine and Mary, lived in the vicinity of St Paul’s, possibly at Bishopsgate. Daniel invested in property in the village of Walkern, a good move as although Walkern is tucked away in a small valley, it is on the route from London to Cambridge which was already a thriving seat of learning.

Indeed, Daniel’s son John, who was born in 1600, the same year as the future King Charles I, took his Bachelor of Arts and then a Master’s degree, at Cambridge, entering the church in 1624 and becoming a Doctor of Divinity in 1636.

In about 1628, John Gorsuch married Ann Lovelace, daughter of Sir William and Anne Lovelace and sister to John’s friend, Richard Lovelace, a Cavalier poet famous for the lines:

Stone walls do not a prison make Nor iron bars a cage


I could not love thee dear so much Loved I not honour more.

The Gorsuch Rectory, Walkern

John and Ann initially set up home in London and three children were soon born to them. This was a time of change and the patronage of church livings (advowsons) were being bought by individuals and corporations. Soon after his son’s marriage and having invested in property in Hertfordshire, Daniel Gorsuch bought the advowson of St. Mary’s, Walkern.

When Daniel bought the living the old parsonage house was at Clay End, a good distance from St Mary’s, so he built a new rectory, close to the church. The rectory was one of the earliest all-brick houses built in England and had glazed sash windows in oak frames. It is basically still the same, square in outline, with brick walls, three floors and a ‘hipped’ tile roof sloping on all four sides. The only difference is in the front facade which was changed sometime in the late 1700s, and a “long” room added on the south side (this was built to house the library of Benjamin Heath, the rector of Walkern 1781-1817). The front entrance could conceivably have faced the church on the east side with a path and bridge over the river Beane to the churchyard.

Four years after their marriage John was instituted as Rector at Walkern, the mandate signed and sealed on behalf of King Charles, and he and Ann had moved with their growing family to the newly built rectory.

The clash of views

It was during this period that the Gorsuch family repaired and improved St Mary’s, building a monument into the south wall of the chancel and installing a plain square East window (a window that was lost at the time of a major renovation in the 1870s). It was also during this time that John had the altar, or communion table, set behind altar rails under the new East window. This was a controversial move.

Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, after Sir Anthony Van Dyck,painting,(circa 1636)

Altar rails for communion had been introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud as a religious and political statement – he believed in ritual and the divine right of kings, and was opposed to religious toleration. John Gorsuch was a follower.

The first incident occurred at Christmas 1636. Thomas Humberstone of Walkern Park and his wife, with Puritan leanings, refused to come up to the altar rails for communion. They knelt at the chancel steps but John Gorsuch refused to give them the sacrament.

Again at Easter the same couple raised their objections to approaching the altar rails and being denied the sacrament they referred the matter to the Archdeacon who after interviewing Gorsuch wrote them a “persuasive letter to reform their carriage”.

So they petitioned John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln. He was sympathetic to the Puritan faction and ordered Gorsuch to administer the communion “to all who presented themselves kneeling in any part of the church under pain of suspension” and with the threat to depose Gorsuch’s curate, Francis Beckwith.

Gorsuch appealed. John Williams had by this time been imprisoned in the Tower for malpractices in State Affairs, and Archbishop Laud had taken charge of Lincoln Bishopric, so the rector was supported. On 28th October a bond was filed against Thomas Humberstone “… to exhibite a true and full certificate of his due frequenting of his parishe church of Walkerne and divine service …”

The Humberstone couple conceded and no further steps were taken against them either by John Gorsuch or his curate Francis Beckwith.

The death of Daniel Gorsuch

Detail of the memorial for Daniel & Alice Gorsuch

In the meantime John’s father had died. Daniel’s burial is recorded in the Walkern Parish register on 8th October 1638, signed by John Gorsuch, Rector.

The Gorsuch memorial in St Mary’s reads: “Daniel Gorsuch, Citizen and Mercer of London in the month of July 1638, caused this Tomb to be made for himself and his wife Alice by whom he had three children, John, Katherine and Joanna, his age being 69 years 6 months and odd dayes. And he died on the 8th day of October, 1638.”

In Daniel’s will, made at Walkern two days earlier, he left property in London to his wife and to John Gorsuch, a sum of £500 to his daughter Katherine, property in Weston to his grandchildren Daniel, John, William, Katherine, Robert and Richard, and a variety of smaller legacies to other friends and relations.

The downfall of John Gorsuch

In the year leading up to the start of the Civil War in 1642 churches were released by Parliament from an injunction “requiring them to do reverence to the Communion table”. They were ordered to remove the altar and the surrounding rails from the east end of all chapels, and level chancels.

In 1642 John Gorsuch was ejected from the parish of Walkern by Parliament and had his living removed. He was accused of endeavouring “to hire one Jones to ride a Troop Horse for Prince Rupert (a nephew of Charles I) … and had published a wicked libel against the Parliament that some of the Lords whom he named were Fools, Bastards and Cuckolds”.

John White, in his “First Century of Scandalous Malignant Priests” published in 1643, wrote that the benefice of John Gorsuch:

“Doctor of Divinity, Rector of the Parish Church of Walkerne in the County of Hertford, is sequestered for that he is a common haunter of Ale-houses and Taverns, and often drunke; and oft sitteth gaming whole nights together, and is seldom in the Pulpit, preaching scarce once a quarter; and hath often denied many of his Parishioners the Sacraments of the Lord’s Supper, without any cause shown, and refused to administer it to such as would not come up to the rails …”

The Rev Nathaniel Ward, was installed in place of Gorsuch, and had to allow £20 a year, namely a fifth part of the stipend, to Mrs Gorsuch, for the maintenance of herself and her children. Walkern appears to have been on the side of Parliament and in 1643 whilst Ward was Rector the Covenant was signed in Walkern Church [Click here to read about Walkern's Civil War Covenant].

Nathaniel Ward was succeeded by Simon Smeath, Vicar of Weston, a staunch Parliament man, who was attracted to the Rectory in Walkern with the expectation of two livings.

The fact that John Gorsuch owned the parsonage must have caused problems for Smeath. It was not difficult to imagine that Gorsuch moved his family to nearby Weston where his mother was still living, but he might conceivably have remained in residence in Walkern, claiming tithes from the surrounding glebe land which was by rights his property.

Mysterious death

John Gorsuch burial record (3rd name down) at St Peters church, Wilburton

In the Parish Register of Wilburton Church in Cambridgeshire, An entry under “Burials” for 1648, reads: “Doctour Godsuch, Dr of Theologie, May the 24th”. There seems to be no other record which ties up with John Gorsuch.

A copy of Henry Chauncey’s “Antiques” was found with a marginal note made some 100 years later by Thomas Tipping, Vicar of “Yardley” (now Ardeley): Dr Gorsuch was smothered in a Haymow. Fairclough of Weston acting Rascall under Manchester sent a body of Rebels to Seize and eject Gorsuch for Smeath Vicar of Weston. Gorsuch betook himself to ye Haymow & there lost his Life. He left a very good name.

The note affirms that in 1647 Simon Smeath persuaded the Earl of Manchester, a Parliamentarian leader, to send Fairclough of Weston with a body of rebels to seize and eject Gorsuch who was still around and “causing a nuisance”. This is the only statement on record made about John Gorsuch’s fateful end.

It is strange that he should have been buried so far from Walkern. The village of Wilburton is north of Cambridge and half way to Ely, the home of Cromwell and his faction. Was John Gorsuch being taken there to be imprisoned at Ely House by Cromwell’s militia? Or had he been imprisoned and was trying to find his way back to Walkern? We shall never know.

The aftermath Anne Gorsuch left for America with four children, Robert, Richard, Anne and Katherine about 1651. She could have taken her children to Virginia where the Lovelace family were already settled. She seems not to have survived long as letters of administration of her estate, dated 2 June 1652, were issued to Daniel her eldest son in England as she had “deceased in parts beyond the seas”.

Katherine married, but returned to England, three years later, widowed with two young children. Brother Robert returned too, though much later. They must have rejoined their other brothers Daniel, John and William at Weston. Their grandmother, Alice Gorsuch (nee Hall) died in 1662 and Daniel was the executor of her will.

It only remains to say that Charles I was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1649; four years previously the same fate had befallen Archbishop William Laud.

Charles II came to the throne in 1660 and the Rev Simon Smeath was deprived of the living of Walkern.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

LuRee Shannon Todd Sanford April 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm

   Anne Lovelace Gorsuch Todd was my 7th Great-Grandmother. My findings of her husband’s family, my 7th great-grandfather go back to the 1500′s. I am still working on Mr. Todd’s family ancestor’s and Anne’s family ancestors. 4-14-2013.

Alison Dufton May 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm

   Fascinating – I have a family bible from a branch of the Gorsuch family- it belonged to my gtgtgrandmother who was a Gorsuch – thanks so much for filling in the connection between where Iwas brought up in Bps Stortford where the Gorsuches were cordwainers for many generations and Weston. There are few records on line for the Hert Gorsuches – I always wondered if they were non-conformist at some point?
   Good luck with your research Alison

Carol F. Holliday January 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

   The reason that Anne Gorsuch came to Virginia was because her father and grandfather were members of the Virginia Company that founded the colony. They were both named Sir William Lovelace. Although they never set foot on America’s shores she had inherited from them the land where she went. It must have been a desperate move to go there with children. No wonder she died shortly thereafter.
   Her grand daughter, Mary Keene, married Thomas Clagett II of Upper Marlboro, Maryland and became the ancestress of a large clan.

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John Gorsuch, DD's Timeline

Walkerne, Hertfordshire, England
Age 19
Walkern, Hertfordshire, England
Age 21
Walkern, Hertfordshire, England
Age 22
Age 24
Weston, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
November 1635
Age 26
Weston, Hertfordshire, England
Age 27
Weston, Hertfordshire, England
March 13, 1637
Age 28
Walkern, Hertfordshire, England
April 1637
Age 28
Walkern, Hertfordshire, England