GOULD, William (1640-71), of Downes, Crediton, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



22 Dec. 1670 - 24 Oct. 1671

Family and Education

b. 31 Mar. 1640, o. surv. s. of William Gould of Floyer’s Hayes, Exeter by Anne, da. of John Browne of Frampton, Dorset. educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1656; I. Temple 1657. m. Agnes, da. of Edmund Powell of Sandford-on-Thames, Oxon, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1644.1

Offices Held

J.p. Devon 1669-70.


Gould represented the senior male line of a crusader who was granted an estate in Somerset for his valour at the siege of Damietta in 1217. His father was a Parliamentarian in the Civil War; he sat on the county committee and for a time commanded the Plymouth garrison. Orphaned at the age of four, Gould was no doubt brought up by his maternal grandfather, a Rumper and an Independent, who complained in his will of his grandson’s lack of respect.2

Gould was removed from the commission of the peace in May 1670 after only a year in office, presumably because of his opposition to the second Conventicles Act. But this did not prevent his election for Dartmouth seven months later on the interest of his first cousin John Upton. During his one session in the Cavalier Parliament he was an inactive committeeman, being named only to the committee of elections and privileges and to the committee for the encouragement of fishing. But he made no less than four interventions in the supply committee, and gave proof of his interest in economic affairs. On 16 Jan. 1671 he opposed the suggested tax on interest:

Whatever money is owing to the tradesmen, or any other man, is so much the less in his estate; so you will subject the business to uncertainty, and put persons to remove their money into other countries.

Sir Edward Dering wrote on 20 Jan. that ‘Mr Gould of Devonshire made a long and studied speech ... dilating much upon the nature of manufactures, the advance of human industry, and the inconvenience of scanting men’s shops’. Three days later he made ‘a narrative of the business of the Mendip Hills’ in opposition to a proposal for a tax on minings. With regard to the revenue from minerals, he said:

It is affirmed that three-fourths is the labour of the men, and but one-fourth a fund for you. If a real profit, that’s a rent; but if you will tax the mine barely, you must direct your commissioners how to do it.

Although Gould’s attitude could not fairly be called obstructive (he expressed a preference for the poll tax), it is unlikely to have been relished by his fellow-Devonians Edward Seymour and (Sir) Thomas Clifford, who were in charge of the government programme on supply, and he must have attracted some notice as a useful, though prolix, opposition speaker. He died on 24 Oct. 1671, before the next session opened, and his branch of the Gould family became extinct in the male line in 1726 without further parliamentary representation.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 422.
  • 2. Vivian, 418-23; PCC 266 Pell.
  • 3. Grey, i. 350, 367; Dering, 56-57.