Ancestral Anecdotes: John Gorham





Ranger Captain Col. John Gorham was a hero or a villain depending on whose viewpoint you agree with, but he seems to have come by his military skills naturally. His brother, father, uncle, and great-grandfather all have had successful military leadership positions.

John Gorham followed the merchant and shipping trade in his early adult years, learning how to effectively do business with the Native Americans. As time passed, John Gorham became a military leader and 'woods-fighter' associated with the British occupation of Nova Scotia, and offensive action against the French and the Natives there. He was quite accomplished, and John and wife Elizabeth Allyn even met with George II in England on one occasion. On a later trip to London, where he was to attend a meeting on how to proceed against the French, he came down with smallpox and died at the age of only 43. But his short life was a controversial and influential one, as you will find with a bit of research:

This link has a good biography and synopsis of his military career.

The opposing viewpoint.

It's up to family members, descendants, and historians to debate. The controversy is over the naming of a stretch of road, and is beyond the scope of this website.

Here's a quote from Kittredge about Col. John's father: Pg. 107

"Of those who did little talking and quietly sailed away bag and baggage, in search of a new Utopia, the Gorhams of Barnstable are the best known. Colonel Shubael Gorham, the same who took part in the capture of Louisburg, spent all his money and many years of his life in founding the town of Gorham, Maine. With him went some of the best citizens of Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Eastham, with a few from Sandwich. Among them were his brother John and other members of the family. None of these newest pioneers had the enterprise so much at heart as Colonel Shubael, however. His perseverance was largely responsible for securing grants of land from the Legislature as pensions for the descendants of the soldiers in King Philip's War. A township called Narragansett no. 7 was assigned to old Captain John Gorham's heirs, and Colonel Shubael, as his grandson, had an indisputable right in it. In 1736, he assembled the other claimants, chief among them his fellow townsman, Captain John Phinney, who acted throughout their shares without ever having seen the ground, and like many another land speculator, went bankrupt as a result. His command in the Louisburg Expedition switched his energies from Gorhamtown, as the settlement was usually called, and turned out to be the last act of his life, for he died the next year, 1746. The town of Gorham today stands as a monument to his perseverance."

(The colonials at Louisburg had to stay over the winter there, waiting for British regulars to take their place. This is where Shubael died.)

Ancestors of John Gorham:

John Gorham's children are on the Allyn family page.


Kittredge, Henry C.: Cape Cod, Its People And Their History. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1930 pg 107 More Information

Deyo, Simeon L. History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts 1620-1890 1890: New York: H. W. Blake & Co pg 458 More Information