GORSUCH, Walkern, early 17th century

January 2002




Angie Carter (isadora1200 @t earthlink.net) of Mason, Ohio, USA, says I have taken up my family genealogy and have a basic outline of my family tree from another relative that did this some years ago.. so I do not know her sources. All I know so far about John Gorsuch (father: Daniel or Danyell Gorsuch, mother: Alice Hall) is that he was born around 1609 and died 1657 he was the Rector of Walkern Church around 1633. He also may have made a Will around that time. He married Anne Lovelace in 1628 (father: Sir William Lovelace of Kent) Anne was born ~1610 in Kent. They had 9 children from 1633-1642, William, Kathern, Robert, Richard, Donyell, Ann, Elizabeth, John, and Charles. All baptized, however there is no mention of the church, maybe Walkern? John is supposedly buried in Walkern, Herts, England? where there might be a tomb with the Gorsuch Coate of Arms. This information was given to me w/o a source, so I don't know how true it is about his burial plot.

I would be very thankful for any conformation of dates, jobs, whatever you can give me. I would also be interested in getting copies of marriage cert. death cert. even baptismal records, any paper document is always helpful and I was wondering how I could get them. As I am in the USA any information could really help my search. Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you.

Your John Gorsuch was an interesting character in that he was very much tied up with the religious turmoil at the time of the Civil War, and was "sacked" as Rector when the Parliament took control. Below I quote several texts relating to him from two of the major histories of Hertfordshire. At the end I add some information relating to his children and make a couple of general comments.


The Gorsuch Memorial

From Cussans' description of Walkern Church

In the plain square east window are four shields of Arms thus charged:— ... Second; Sable; two Ban engrailed between three Fleurs-de-lys, or; CREST ; Issuant from a Ducal coronet a Lion rampant or, for GORSUCH ...

On the [south] side of the chancel, under semicircular hoodings, are the figures of a man and his wife kneeling on cushions, with the Arms of GORSUCH, as above, impaled with Argent; semé of Crosses-crosslet gules, three Griffins' heads erased sable, for HALL, Above is a tablet bearing this inscription:—


On recently removing some of the plaster from the wall on this side, it was found that, in order to erect the above monument, a portion of the projecting members of a late Norman piscina, with a dog-tooth moulding extending over the arch, and down the outside of the columns, as well as the moulding of Early English sedilia, were cut away flush with the wall. It is intended to restore these ancient features, and to remove the monument elsewhere, but the wall is at present in such a state that it is unsafe to meddle with it until it is materially strengthened.


Walkern Rectory

Extract Cussans' account of the ownership of the Rectory

[Basically this refers to the right to "present" the post of Rector.]

"... William Humberston, of Digswell, sold it on the 30th November, 1616, to Edward Beale, of London, grocer, who sold it to Daniel Gorsuch, of London, merchant, who presented in 1632. It was afterwards purchased by Andrew Gardiner, of Southwark. ..."


John Gorsuch, D.D.

Based on Cussans' list of the Rectors of Walkern

John Gorsuch, D.D. [Doctor of Divinity] was Instituted as Rector of the Parish of Walkern on 28th July, 1632, following the death of the previous Rector, George Barrie, his patron was his father, Daniel Gorsuch. During the civil war Nathaniel Ward and Simon Smeath were Rectors (the Parliament being their paton) and following the restoration of the monarchy Anthony Garley became Rector in 1660. The following footnote refers to John Gorsuch:

He was son of Daniel Gorauch, Citizen and Mercer of London, who presented him to this living, from which he was ejected by the Parliament in 1642. The Revd. Thomas Tipping, vicar of Ardeley, in a note, made about the 1ear 1740, in a copy of Chauncy'a History, now in the possession of Hale Wortham, of Royston, Esq., writes :— "Dr. Gorsuch was smothered in an Haymow. Fairclough of Weston acting Rascall under Manchester sent a body of Rebels to Seize & eject Gorsuch for Smeath Vicar of Weston. Gorsuch betook himself to ye Haymow & there lost his Life. He left a very good name." After his ejectment, his wife was allowed £20 per annum in lieu of one-fifth part of the income of the rectory, for the maintenance of herself and children. Dr. Gorsuch, however, does not appear to have been contented with this meagre allowance, and his death was probably due to his attempting to assert his legal rights. The following order is contained in the Accounts of Plundered Ministers, under date 26th October, 1647:—

"Upon Complaint made by Mr. Nath: Ward to whom ye Rectorie of Walkern in ye County of Harford is sequestered that Doctor Gorsuch from whom ye same is sequestered hath in contempt of the sd Sequestracõn taken awaie by force & detained from ye said Mr. Ward the corne of the gleabe of good value to the great piudice of the said Mr. Ward, It is therefore ordered that the wife of the said Doctor Gorsuch doe shew cause before this Comittee on the 18th day of November next wherefore shee the said Mrs. Gorsuch should not bee debarred of the 20li a yeare granted her in lieu of the 5th pt for ye saide wronge & contempt, & in case the said Mr. Ward shall forebeare paynt of the said 20li a yeare unto her in the mean tyme, It is ordered that the said detainer shall not be accompted a contempt of the said order of this Comittee." [Add. MS, 15671, fol. 253, Mus. Brit.]


John Gorsuch, D.D.

A religious dispute in 1636 as reported in the Victoria County History

The position of the Consistory [church] Courts is exemplified by the case of certain parishioners of Walkern who petitioned Archbishop Laud in 1637. Their rector, John Gorsuch, D.D., had some trouble at Christmas 1636 over the question of communicating at the altar rails, and on the eve of Good Friday Thomas Humberstone and his wife went to Dr. Gorsuch and acquainted him with their purpose of receiving the Holy Communion on the next day. They paid him their accustomed offerings on Good Friday, and drew all of them out of the church into the body of the chancel, and there kneeling desired to be partakers thereof, but were refused by the Doctor and his curate, unless they would come up to the rail. They then applied to Holdsworth, archdeacon of Huntingdon, who saw Gorsuch on the subject, and wrote a persuasive letter to them to reform their carriage. Thereupon they addressed a petition to Williams as Bishop of Lincoln, begging his intervention. The bishop, whose views on the position of the altar were widely known through his book. The Holy Table: Name and Thing, at once took the part of the parishioners, saying of Gorsuch that it was 'a bold part in him and more in his curate to deny the communion upon such weak foundations,' and requiring him 'to warn a communion and to administer the same to as many of those parties as shall present themselves, in any part of the church, kneeling, under pain of suspension in him and deposition in his curate.' Gorsuch then appealed to Laud, alleging that he could obtain no order against Humberstone in the courts of the Bishop of Lincoln as that prelate would not suffer them to be presented and remitted all punishment in such cases; he prayed that the case might be referred to the court of High Commission. Humberstone and his wife also petitioned the archbishop and stated their readiness 'to receive either at the rails or in the chancel.' Gorsuch had thus won his point, and Laud in October issued directions to Sir John Lamb, commissary to the Bishop of Lincoln, that any process against Humberstone should be quashed, and that Gorsuch should 'cease all further suit and do what shall be fitting in a peaceable and Christian-like way.'


In your query you mentioned that John had nine children between 1633-1642 - William, Kathern, Robert, Richard, Donyell, Ann, Elizabeth, John, and Charles. While not biologically impossible (particularly if there were twins) it seems a little unlikely and does not fit with the Walkern parish registers which, according to the British Vital Records Index CD list the following baptisms:

Katherine         26 Nov 1633        John
Robert 19 Nov 1635 John & Anne
Richard 20 April 1637 John & Anne
Anna 13 Mar 1638 John & Anne
Elizabeth 13 May 1641 John & Anne
Charles 25 Aug 1642 John & Anne

The spacing between children is reasonable. The IGI, on familysearch, is a right real mess - see "The Limitations of familysearch" and I groan when I come across evidence of what appear to be wild guesses recorded as if they were fact. You may also find "The Dangers of Internet Genealogy" worth reading. I suspect that the family tree you have will need very careful checking over many generations - and you would do far better by starting documenting backwards from the present day, checking as you go. Use a good "how to" book as a guide, join a local family history society, and find out where your nearest LDS Family History Centre is (address on familysearch.)

Are you aware of the GORSUCH family forum at http://genforum.genealogy.com/gorsuch/ ?

April 2005

Dawn Gorsuch (muffin @t neo.rr.com) asks a number of questions  relating to the number of children John Gorsuch had, arising from the above and references found on the internet.

Subsequent to the original answer I have become aware of two booklets privately published in Walkern in 1982.

A Gorsuch Pedigree by Michael Overman

This attempts to link all branches of the family together over 1000 years, and in particular contains information on the Hertfordshire branch of the family. However it simply says of the American branches that they are well described elsewhere. It is clear that Michael has carried out some significant research on at least some parts of the genealogy, and while many of the sources are not identified, he does indicate some of the uncertainties. 

Gorsuch - Parish Priest by S. Esmé Overman

A detailed study of the life of John Gorsuch, including photographs of extracts from contemporary documents. It come over as a careful and thorough piece of research.


These booklets show that three children (Daniel 1629-1668, John 1630-1662 & William 1631-1698) were born in London, before John move to Walkern. Six children were baptised in Walkern (Katherine 1631-1669, Robert 1634-?, Richard 1637-1667, Anna 1639-1697, Elizabeth 1641-1681, Charles 1642-1695), but the Civil War interfered:

... John Gorsuch was ejected from the Parish of Walkern by Parliament in 1642 and his living sequestered. ... The accusation was that the priest had "endeavoured to hire one Jones to ride a Troop horse for Prince Rupert (nephew to Charles I) ... and had published a wicked libel against the Parliament that some of the Lords whom he named were Fools, Bastards and Cuckolds." 

Two later children were baptised at nearby Weston - Lovelace 1643-1705 & Frances 1645-?.


Having said all this, the general point at the end my first answer is still valid. There is a lot of rubbish published on the internet, and often copied and recopied without any indication of source. In addition not everything on familysearch can be taken at face value. 


October 2006

Gregory Gorsuch (GGorsNavy @t aol.com) has provided the following information: As all Gorsuches in the United States are related to John Gorsuch, D.D. his life has been of considerable interest in genealogy spheres in America.  A number of lucid and well researched accounts exist.  You've uncovered many of the more important ones.

One omission of your account is the end of John Gorsuch and the start of the Gorsuch lineage.  After being sequestered from his livelihood he remained in Walkern/Weston area and evidently made such a nuisance of himself, that Simon Smeath, Vicar of Weston, who succeeded Ward at Walkern in 1648, persuaded Manchester to send Fairclough of London with a body of men to seize and eject him.  The Reverend Thomas Tipping, Vicar of Ardeley, noted this about 1740, in a copy of Chauncy's Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire:

"Dr. Gorsuch was smothered in a haymow.  Fairclough of Weston, acting Rascall under Manchester, set a body of Rebels to seize Gorsuch from Smeath Vicar of Weston Gorsuch betook to ye haymow and there lost his life.  He left a very good name."

The body of John Gorsuch was returned to a site near Cambridge University were he had received his doctorate 12 years before.  According to the records of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was buried at Wilberton, Isle of Ely on 24 May 1648.

His wife Anne Lovelace Gorsuch (sister of the cavalier poet Sir Richard Lovelace) was left with 12 children, the oldest not yet twenty.  She left with Robert, Richard and Anne and was later followed by Elizabeth, Charles, and Lovelace in tow of Katherine for the Virginia Colony sometime after John's death (1649-51).  Her brother Colonel Francis Lovelace (later governor of New York) was already in Virginia

He returned to England in 1652 bringing word to Charles II of Virginia's surrender to the Parlimentarians.  On June 1652 letters of administration of her estate were issued to her eldest son Daniel, who had remained in England, as she had "deceased in parts beyond the seas."

If interested I can provide you with volumes more

June 2009

Nancy L Johnson (nancy @t nancylea.com) of St Joseph, MI, USA, writes: Our genealogy includes this side of the Gorsuch family tree.  My deceased mother purchased (1986) a hard bound book entitled Osbourne and Sands and Allied Families by Elizabeth Jane Osbourne Sands.  Within is a section of the Gorsuch Family Tree and we found this useful. Mom has additional notes penned in the back that wasn't in the book. I hope you find this a great help in your search.

Online sources give the publication details of this book, which was published in 1986, apparently posthumously as Elizabeth Jane Osbourne Sands is given the dates 1915-1983. The book is listed in major library catalogues.  I note that a 12 page long Errata & addendum to Osbourne and Sands, and allied families was published in 1993 - which Nancy says contains three amendments relating to the Gorsuch family.

April 2010

Gregory Gorsuch (GGorsNavy @t aol.com) has provided the following extract from Chauncy:

"In the South Wall of the Chancel is a Monument erected with the Figure of a Man and a Woman kneeling upon Cushions, and a Book before either of them, with this Inscription over their Heads.

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, Katharine and Joanna, his age being __ years two Months __dayes, and he died the 8th day of October 1638.

Over his head is his Coat of Armes, where he bears Sable, two Bends invert and three Flower d'Lucies Or.

Under him the Pourtraicture of his Son in a Scarf and Gown and his two Daughters kneeling with a Book before either of them

Over her Head the Armes of the Halls in Lincolnshire and over both (in the top of the Monument) are the Armes of the Gorsuches."


"In the East Window of the Chancel, in the middle it the King's Armes on the right Side the Armes of Gorsuch, with a Crest, a Coronet and a demy Lion; on the left Side the Armes of the Mercers Company."

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page updated April 2010