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GOUGE, ROBERT (1630–1705), independent divine, was born, according to Calamy, at Chelmsford, Essex, and sent to Christ's College, Cambridge. According to the college register, Robert, son of Robert Gouge, born at Chelmsford and educated there, was admitted 8 June 1647 at the age of seventeen as a sizar. Another entry in Christ's College register records the admission on 11 March 1646–7 of one Robert Gooch of Great Yarmouth, with whom the independent divine has been wrongly confused. Calamy adds that Gouge was sent to Cambridge ‘by the Lord Fitzwalter.’ At that time there was no Lord Fitzwalter, but the reference may be to Benjamin Mildmay, who became Baron Fitzwalter in 1669. Gouge was a pupil of Henry More, the platonist. On leaving the university his first settlement was at Maldon, Essex, as master in the grammar school and preacher at one of the churches. About 1652 he obtained the rectory of St. Helen's, Ipswich, the patron being Robert Dunkon, an independent. Here he gathered a congregational church. A letter of sympathy from ‘the church at Hellen's in Ipswich’ to a congregational church at Bury St. Edmunds, dated ‘third month, day 1st, 1656,’ is signed by Gouge and Dunkon. On 17 Aug. 1658 Samuel Petto of South Elmham, Suffolk, describes him as ‘a very gracious man.’ He was silenced by the Uniformity Act of 1662, but continued in Ipswich for upwards of ten years. He then removed to Coggeshall, Essex, as pastor of a congregational church gathered in a licensed house by John Sames (d. December 1672). About 1674 Gouge fitted up a barn at Coggeshall as a place of worship, in which he ministered for some thirty years. Calamy says that ‘a decay of his intellectuals through age, gave him his quietus.’ He died in October 1705; his successor, Edward Bentley, was appointed in 1706. He was father of Thomas Gouge (1665?–1700) [q. v.] He published ‘The Faith of Dying Jacob,’ &c., 1688, 4to (funeral sermons for Isaac Hubbard, with life).

[Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 645; Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, 1779, ii. 505; Browne's Hist. Congr. Norf. and Suff. 1877, pp. 366, 401, 598; extract from admission book, per the Master of Christ's College, Cambridge.]

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