Infinity Wanders (Amazon), 2nd ed. 2023, paperback, 138 pp

Reviewed by Norman E. Gough, S. Staffordshire, UK

In 2020 I detailed the Gough family of St Briavels, Gloucestershire, supposed descendants of Sir Matthew Gough, who married into the influential Warren family1. In this short book, Jon Davis gives us a brief overview of the Goughs and takes up the story after William Gough (1693-1773) left Gloucestershire in 1717 to marry Catherine Portrey (1698-1733) in Ynyscedwyn, Breconshire, Wales. Catherine descended from the wealthy Aubrey family, said to have royal Welsh links. Thus, the Gough family benefitted yet again from a union that came with substantial estates, including a coal mine. The author covers the history of the Portrey family and the subsequent lives of several of the Gough Portrey descendants.

As may be expected from families with such noble origins and inherited wealth, they lived comfortable lives as country squires, achieved high-ranking positions in the military and government, and entertained themselves watching their horses racing. When the male Aubrey line died out, the inheritance included a condition which ensured that the name Aubrey was adopted, thus leading to the Gough Aubreys. After further marriages to into Dansey and Fleming families, the name became over-extended, for example Lt. Col. Fleming Richard Dansey Aubrey Gough (1855-1933), JP, Sheriff of Breconshire.

The author brings together seven articles previously published in Infinity Wanderers, now revised with several additions. Each section is a concise and thus easily readable account. The cover is from a fanciful interpretation of the Gough arms by artist Robin Stacey, and there is an interesting interpretation of the Warren, Douglas, Aubrey, Kingston and Portrey components of the composite family shield. On the downside, the adopted format means that flow of the material, although mainly chronological, is a bit disjointed, some page references are incorrect, at least two pages and photographs are duplicated, and several pages are adverts for other books. Only simplified family trees are included. It is also disappointing that there is no detailed reference list for key sources – the sort of evidence that any genealogist would hope for. However, on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words, what it lacks in detail is compensated for by an excellent set of colour photographs. I don’t doubt that any tourist visiting the popular historical industrial site at Ynyscedwyn will find this fascinating background material.

The part I enjoyed reading most was the career of Captain William Gough (c.1722-60) in the British Navy, who started by escorting convoys to the Baltic. He was present in action at Minorca in 1756, so he had to give evidence at the trial of Admiral Byng who was court-marshalled and executed for cowardice. William also turns up at Quebec but unfortunately his ship developed a leak and he missed most of the action. He died there soon after and Davis argues that he was probably buried at sea. The author is in the process of writing a more detailed book on William’s career called A Call to Duty. For those of us who like to read about swashbuckling adventures in sailing ships, this is something to look forward to.


1Norman Gough, Goff/Gough Origins in the British Isles: 2 Goughs of Gloucestershire, GGFA Newsletter, Fall 2020, 78-87.

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