Thomas Goble (1590-1657) of West Sussex, England

by Terence T. Quirke, PhD, CG

Civil Registration of births, marriages and deaths did not start in England until 1837. Prior to that time the most reliable source of such data is to be found in Church of England (C of E) parish registers. In some parishes such records began to be kept as early as the mid-1500s. Until about 1750 most of these records were written in Latin.

There is an index to Sussex marriages ,which can be accessed by the name of the groom and/or bride, +/- actual or approximate date of marriage. I requested information about the marriage of Thomas GOBLE and Alice MOUSALL, probably at least by 1630 since when they arrived in North America in 1633 or early 1634 they had a son who was said to have been about three or four years old.

The reply I received was: 5 November 1619, Thomas GOBLE and Alice BROOKMAN at Aldingbourne, West Sussex. See Map #1 and Map #2.

This is several years earlier than expected and the last name of the bride is different than that previously published in North American genealogies. Thomas is reported to have died in December 1657, with no age at death given . If he had been 20 at the time he married (i.e., b. 1599) he would have been 58 at death, not an impossible age, even in those years.

In examining several pertinent early New England genealogical references, it is seen that many do not state Alice's maiden name, leave it blank, or state that she was "perhaps daughter of Ralph MOUSALL" without citing any source of that supposition. In fact, Dorothy Hand DYMOND after reviewing various family relationships and relative ages in previous works, states, "Thus, Mousall cannot be considered the maiden name of Thomas (1) Goble's wife."

The result is that a marriage of one Thomas GOBLE and an Alice somebody took place in the right place at about the right time and three of the 'known' names out of four are as anticipated. On this basis and with the aforementioned uncertainties in mind, it is believed at this time that the marriage record found in Aldingbourne of Thomas GOBLE and Alice BROOKMAN is that of the couple that arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts in late 1633 or early 1634, pending information to the contrary. (See Figure 1, a copy from the microfilm of the original entry in the parish record.)

A search in transcripts of the Aldingbourne parish records was made for baptisms of Thomas GOBLE, Alice BROOKMAN and their son John said to have been born about 1629. Thomas and Alice probably immigrated to North America in search of "religious freedom" as many of their contemporaries were reported to have done. From this one can suppose that in England they were opposed to or, at least, unhappy with the state Church of England. They were thus, 'dissenters' or 'non-conformists'. This is further indicated by the fact that they were admitted to the First Church of Charleston soon after their arrival . In England at this time for a marriage to be legal and recognized it had to be performed in and by the C of E, which explains the record reported above, but non-conformists usually did not have their children baptized or buried from the C of E. In fact, baptism in some sects was not performed until one was an adult. With this knowledge it is not surprising that no baptism of a John GOBLE was found between 1600 and 1650. However, Thomas's parents may have been more traditional since there is a record as follows : "2 Jan 1590 (1591) Thomas filius Willmi GOBLE de Westergate." Westergate is a village within a mile of Aldingbourne. This would make Thomas 29 at the time of his marriage and 67 at death. Neither age is impossible, the age at death being the least credible. (See Figure 2, a copy from the microfilm of the original entry in the parish record.)

There is no record in Aldingbourne of the marriage of a William GOBLE going back to the first entry in the parish records on 30 October 1558. On 1 May 1593 a burial of "Willmus GOBLE de Westergate" is recorded . There is no record of a baptism of Alice BROOKMAN in the Aldingbourne parish register. Neither is there any record of the burials of Thomas, John or Alice GOBLE that might indicate that the people recorded remained in the area until death and thus could not be the people in Massachusetts. However, this is not necessarily substantive since as stated above, non-conformists probably would not have been buried from the C of E, anyway.

In a cursory examination of the I.G.I. the surnames BROOKMAN, MOWSELL/MOUSALL and GOBLE were seen to occur in some of the adjacent or nearby parishes. It may be that the antecedents of the couple who came to North America can be identified with greater confidence in another parish. Meanwhile, a search for early GOBLE wills will be made with the anticipation that other significant family relationships and localities may be identified.

My thanks to Mrs. Evelyn Goble STEEN for making copies of various references available to me.


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This page last updated on February 15, 2017
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