History of the Goff Family


 The Goff's of Pittsburgh descend from a family of landed gentry in Northern Ireland. Although there is a story that they may be descended from the regicide, General William Goffe, this does not appear to be true. The founder of the family fortune, Joshua McGeough, is described in a document now found in the MacGeough Bonds Papers* as "an Old Gentleman of the County of Armagh [who] had by laudable industry, acquired a small Real Estate, and a considerable personal fortune worth in the whole about £100,000." Joshua was born about 1683. He married Anne Graham about 1700, and they had six children, the oldest of which was William. Joshua lived principally on his estate at Drumsill; but in the 1740's he foreclosed the mortgage from a family named Nicholson on a property known as Derryclaw.

Joshua died in 1756, and the house and estate at Drumsill passed to William. The Derryclaw estate went to his youngest son, Samuel. William had married Elizabeth Bond, daughter and heiress of Walter Bond of Bondville, County Armagh. It is not known if there were any children of this marriage. William later married a Miss Boyd by whom he had a son, Joshua. William died in 1791.

  Walter MacGeough-Bond

Joshua, son of William, bought the Derryclaw estate in 1779, and also rebuilt the house at Drumsill between 1786 and 1788. Joshua added wings to Drumsill House in 1805-6. Joshua married Susan Pierce before 1769. They had one son, John, born about 1769. After Joshua and Susan divorced, Joshua married a second time to Anne (or Elizabeth) Johnstone. They had five children, William, Walter, Mary Ann, Isabella and Eliza. Upon his death on 3 September1817, Drumsill was left to his second son, Walter, and Walter's three sisters. He left only 400 pounds to William, his first son. Joshua's will stipulated, however, that after Walter married, he could not take possession of Drumsill until at least two of his sisters had married. This was clarified in the third Codicil to the will [see transcription here]. Although one died [Isabella, on 8 November 1817], the remaining sisters never married (Mary Ann died 28 Mar 1857 at the age of 71). The two remaining sisters shared the house; apparently with an uneasy truce. At one time, the two halves of the front double door were painted different colors with a line painted down the middle of the house to separate the living quarters of the two sisters and their servants. Resigned to this, Walter lived at the Derryclaw estate, where he built a house, the Argory. Although the will did not stipulate it, Joshua also left a legacy of 1000 pounds to his son by Susan Pierce, John Goffe, who had gone to America in 1801.

* The MacGeough Bonds Papers today are archived in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI):
               MacGeough Bonds Papers (D/288) http://proni.nics.gov.uk/records/private/macg_b.htm

Below is transcribed a letter [see original document here], written 27 April 1881 to an unidentified nephew, from J.G. Goff giving some hints of the ancestry of his father, John Goffe. On the following pages is a transcription of the History or Record of J.G. Goff's Family, or at least the portion copied by L.T. Bayard and given to a member of Alexander L. Goff's family [see original document here].


 At home  Apr 27th/81

Dear Nephew

I have just received your kind letter of 26th, & hasten to answer --

1 I mentioned to you Pearse English & his two brothers Michael & William--I do not know of any other of this second marriage of my grandmother--and of her first marriage I never knew of any other but my father--or--in other words--John & his half brothers make up her family as far as I ever learned----

2 Of my grandfathers second marriage I never learned anything certain but I always supposed that he married again by reading the letter of Ann MacGeough that I left with you. I supposed that she--& an older deceased sister that she mentioned in that letter were half sisters to my father--& of course the issue of a 2nd marriage.

As ever Your own Uncle

J. G. Goff

P.S. I think I heard that there was a son of grandfathers--(& half brother to my father) that had his residence on the "Circular Road" Dublin. This as you will observe is quite indefinite--but, from memory it is the best that I can do--It is now 61 years since my father made this trip & if this 1/2 brother lived on--or near "Circular Road" Dublin, it was at that time----

There is more to this letter, but nothing further relating to John Goffe's ancestry.


 The residence of my paternal grandfather (Joshua McGeough) is supposed to have been in or near the city of Dublin, since, in his letters is named some locality "Summer Hill" and "Drumsill". (Whether these were Postoffices, Villages or Estates is not known) [Summer Hill and Drumsill are the names of estates in County Armagh]. He was among those who in Ireland was called "great men". That is possessed of real Estate &c.

Rear of Drumsill House, County Armagh, Ireland (Courtesy of Sean Barden) [other views of Drumsill]

His first wifes name was Susan Pierce, their son John (my father) was born June 7th 1769--after they were divorced, he married again--who he married is not known--their children were one son Walter & two daughters, the younger of these was named Ann--the name of the other not known. It is not known whether there were more than these three of the second marriage. He died (my Grandfather [Joshua McGeough]) about the year 1817 or 1818.

My father dropped the "Mac" and omitted the "e" and always spelled his name "Goffe" as is usual in America (except the "e") while in the old country it is spelled "Gough".

My Grandmother [Susan Pierce] married a second time a Mr. English (his first name not known) by whom she had four sons Michal, Thomas, Pierce, & William--and it is thought--one daughter Mary; who married a Mr. Deane & had two children (see middle of old ac't. book). Perhaps there were other children besides Mary, of that I do not know.

I suppose Mr. English died in Ireland before their emigration to America, in the year 1801--as we hear nothing more of him--and these four sons above named, became seafaring men, & their history is not known

March 24th 1885{ }Joshua G. Goff

2) History continued

My maternal Grandfather was a farmer living at the South end of the Lough Neagh at the east side of the river Bann; where it flows into [the] Lough (Lake)--County Armagh Ireland--His wife was a McKinney (first name not known). His name was John Gregston. They had four children, Jane, Frances, William & Anthony (not so certain about the last name it may have been Johnson) which was oldest or youngest is not known, there being no record of birth or death. These sons both died while young--Frances became the wife of Thomas Wethereal. The family came to America in the year 1819. She (my Aunt Frances) died while crossing the ocean. The family were scattered & their history is not known further than that. Jacob (son of Thomas & Frances Wethereal) lived with his Uncle & Aunt, Hugh Turkington & Mary Ann his wife (formerly Mary Ann Gregston) & one daughter (Margret) who became the wife of Stephen Wright in Allegheny County, Pa.

The above named Jane Gregston became the wife of John Goffe (my father) possibly in the year 1796, he being then 27 years of age, & she 26 (No date of marriage among all these relations).

Their children were William born Nov 9th 1797, Mercy (2) & Mary Ann (3), both died in infancy (date of birth or death not known) Frances (4)--July 23rd 1802--John Eustace (5)--March 29th 1804, Joshua Gregston (6) (the present writer) April 7th 1806--Alexander Lucious (7)--Jan 8th 1809--Kinney Herbert (8), Feb 16th 1811--and Philo (9), June 8th 1813.

Grandfather (John Gregston) after Grandmothers [? McKinney] death married again (name not known) and they had seven children--Ellen--Henry--Mary Ann-- Solomon--Francis--Thomas & Hannah in the order of age here given. It is said that Ellen married & went to Scotland--Mary Ann, wife of Hugh Turkington (above mentioned) came with her husband & her single brother Francis to Canada where I saw them in 1826. The further history of Grandfathers second family is not known. John Gregston died March 25th 1804.

(3) History continued

June 1st 1801 Father & Mother [John and Jane Goffe] embarked for America on board the good ship Albicore. Captain Courtney accompanied by his Mother & his half brother & sister. Brother William (being then in his fourth year) & sister Mercy, was all the children then (my sister Mary Ann having died in Ireland some time previous). John & Mariah Wilkinson (cousins to Mother) were on board. Mariah afterward married Ebenezer Mayo [*](a seafaring man) who lived on the western bank of the Penobscot River--town of Frankfort, Hancock Co.-- Dist of Maine [Maine was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state in 1820, and so was not a state when John and Jane Goffe arrived there].  The port whence they sailed not known but suppose Belfast or Newry. There were 466 souls on board. Set sail June 1st--landed near the City of Boston Mass. July 28th 1801, a voyage of 58 days.  A great deal of sickness on board. My infant sister Mercy died & was laid in a chest with empty bottles corked so that it would float, & committed to the ocean. An item in a newspaper informed them some fishermen took up the chest & learning by the name, date etc inscribed on the lid

4) History continued

they had it decently interred in a grave yard.

The whole family in short time went Northward, and settled in the aforesaid locality of Frankfort etc, where they lived for the next 16 years. (Father paid 65 guineas for passage for himself & family on the Albicore & found their own provisions.)--- Father bought a farm in said locality one mile North of the village of Frankfort, and six miles South of the village of Hampden. The sellers name not recollected {Samuel Bartlett (see abstract of deed on record)}. The title was thought to be deficient or defective on account of some former claimant, so that the place was not saleable. We started to move an overland route--himself, wife & family on the 1st day of Oct & arrived in Pittsburg Dec 4th 1817, 65 days on the way.

In Feb, 1819 Father went to Ireland to look after a Legacy of one thousand pounds deposited in Bank to be drawn by Father [John Goffe] after Grandfathers [Joshua McGeough] death. After good deal of delay & litigation he got the said Legacy and arrived in Pittsburg in Sep. after an absence of seven months. My father John Goffe died in Sewickly Alleg. Co. Pa. May 11th 1837, aged 68 yrs. Jane his wife (nee Gregston) died in Sewickly Jan 13th 1850 aged 80 yrs.

(5) History continued

Children of John & Jane Goffe (nee Gregston) continued

William Goff born in Ireland Nov. 9th 1797. William Goff married May 24th 1823, to Nancy Swindles of Pittsburg. William Goff died Aug 7th 1842. Nancy his wife died Nov. 14th 1824. He [William Goff] married second time to Miss Sarah Ann Brandon who died Apr. 18th 1882.

Mary Ann & Mercy Goff, both died in infancy, Mary Ann in Ireland & Mercy while on the ocean.

Frances Goff born July 23rd 1802 married to John R. Garrison March 25th 1825, died Feb 5th 1879.

John E[ustace]. Goff born Mar. 29th 1804 married Miss Sarah Jane Wright July 31st 1828 died Jan 7th 1890.

Joshua Gregston Goff, born April 7th 1806 married Miss Deborah Wilkinson near Blairsville Pa Nov. 22nd 1832 died Jan 10th 1890 aged 83 y's & 9 months. Deborah born July 23rd 1812 died Mar. 16th 1885.

Alexander L[ucius]. Goff born Jan 8th 1809 married Miss Mary Rodenbaugh Apr. 1st 1830 who died Sep 14th 1833. Alexander L. Goff married second time Miss Mary Swier Nov 17th 1842. Alexander L. Goff died July 5th 1879 aged 70 yrs 6 months. Mary his widow died July 11th 1902.

(6) Their children continued

Kinney H[erbert]. Goff born Feb 16th 1811 married Miss Sophia Hugo Oct. 8th 1835 who died July 25th 1843. He married again Miss Margret Keepers Mar. 7th 1844. Kinney H. Goff, died Aug. 29th 1876 aged over 65 yrs. His widow Margret died Jan. 24th 1879.

Philo Goff born June 9th 1813 married Prudence Marie Brown of Pittsburg Nov. 2nd 1830. Philo Goff died Apr. 15th 1859 [1853] aged 39 ys 10 mon. [and 6 days]. His widow Prudence died Apr. 17th 1876 aged 63 ys & 7 months.

(The original of this record goes down to the third & fourth generation; but I suppose the above will be all that is necessary for your purpose)

Mrs. Lucy T. Bayard


* Ebenezer Mayo apparently lived the rest of his life at Frankfort, Maine, dying there 8 October 1873 at the age of 85 years, 9 months. His wife Maria(h) Wilkinson died at Frankfort, Maine on 19 June 1871, aged 92 years. Ebenezer and Mariah are buried in Lowe Cemetery, Frankfort, Waldo County, Maine.

1. Numbers in parentheses ( ) indicate page numbers of the original handwritten document.

2. Comments in parentheses ( ) come directly from the original.

3. Comments in square brackets [ ] were added by Timothy D. Evans.

4. Comment in curly braces {} on original page 4 (transcript page 2) was taken from penciled notes to an old transcription.

5. This transcript was made by Timothy D. Evans in 1991 from the original handwritten copy by Lucy T. Bayard and from a previous transcript made and corrected in pencil by someone unknown (possibly Emma Goff). The handwritten copy by Lucy T. Bayard and the original transcript are now (1997) in the possession of Timothy D. Evans.

6. My thanks to Sean Barden for the picture of Drumsill House, and to Willard Carroll, who passed on the picture to me.




 Page Created 12 April 2000 Lasted Modified Saturday, 08-Sep-2018 05:17:00 MDT www.evansfamilyhistory.com Copyright © 2000, 2001 Timothy D. Evans, All Rights Reserved Not For Commercial Use