by Phillip G. Goff, GGFA DNA Project Manager

There were Gough and Goff families in New England, Maryland and Virginia by the middle of the 17th century. Decades later, the first colonial newspaper, Publick Occurences Both Foreign and Domestick, was published in Boston in 1690. It was shut down after the first edition for failing to obtain a license. In 1704, The Boston News-Letter was granted authority to print and was continuously published until 1776. See The Maryland Gazette started in 1727, The Virginia Gazette in 1736 and The South-Carolina Gazette in 1732. See

So, what are the earliest mentions of the Gough and Goff families in American newspapers? The website includes all of the above early newspapers, and more, and is the source of the below items. To the [old] news!:

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 30 December 1729:
“RUN away on the 28th of December. . . [from] William Gough of Queen Ann’s County in Maryland. . . . Michael Margatroyd, of a middle Stature, a much pock-broken in the Face; he had on a Felt Hat, a Coat of grey Duroy, [and] a Vest lined with Red. . . . [He, along with two others] pretend to be Sailors leaving with Capt. Stringfellow in Maryland.”

The South-Carolina Gazette, 19 February 1731:
“Some Day this Week, one Mr. Gough was unhappily killed by a Gentleman, who (as we hear), has the Misfortunate to be out of his Senses.”

The South-Carolina Gazette, 6 January 1732:
“Whoever hath Title or Claim to any of the hereafter described Lands may, be informed how to come by their Grants of the same, at the Printer hereof. . . . Octob. 6, 1709. A Grant to John Gough of 363 Acres of Cedar Swamp, on the Head of the eastern Branch of Cooper River.”

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 29 January 1741:
“All the Transports which sail’d from North-America arrived at Jamaica the 26th of November, except Capt. Goff’s Company in a Snow from Boston. . . .”A snow is a square-rigged vessel with two masts, complemented by a snow- or trysail-mast stepped immediately behind the main mast, according to Wikipedia.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 4 June 1747:
“RUN away . . . from [Randal Mashall], near Warwick furnace, Chester county, an Irish servant man, named Bryan Dignan, about 20 years of age. . . . Had on . . . a felt hat, ozenbrigs shirt and trowser, an orange colour’d jacket, . . . , Leather breeches, [and] new pumps. . . . He formerly ran away from Edward Goff, and was taken up near the Forks of Delaware.”

The South-Carolina Gazette, 24 October 1761:
Arrived at Charleston 22 October 1761: “Scooner Dispatch, Francis Goffe [from] Georgia”

Phillip Goff is the co-author, along with Roy L. Lockhart, of The Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. Since 2004, he has run the Goff/Gough Surname DNA Study, which today has over 100 participants.

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