John Gorham, Sr. was born 28 January 1621 in Benefield, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom to Ralph Gorham (1575-1643) and Margaret Stephenson (c1575-) and died 5 February 1676 Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Desire Howland (1625-1683) 6 November 1644 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States.


Capt John Gorham - The son of RALPH & MARGARET (STEPHENSON) GORHAM, he married DESIRE HOWLAND on November 6, 1644 in Plymouth, Mass.

John received a land grant in Plymouth on December 18, 1635, and had a partnership with John Rogers at Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1638/9. He was a freeman of Duxbury on June 4, 1650. The same year, he built a bridge over the South River.

His age was stated to be 53 years when he was deposed on January 4, 1674/5.

King Philip's War


King Philip's War (1675-1678) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678. John played a major role in King Philip's War:

Great Swamp Fight / Narrangansett Fort

His force was part of a larger force than engaged the King Philip at Great Swamp Fight of 1675 (Narrangansett Fort) at 19 Dec 1675.

In November 1675, the commissioners of the United Colonies of New England had evidence that the neutral Narragansett tribe was assisting Metacomet. They chose to launch a preemptive strike on the Narragansett. On December 8, 527 members of the Massachusetts militia, led by Samuel Appleton (1624-1696), gathered in Dedham, Massachusetts. Plymouth Colony gathered 159 men under the command of William Bradford and Connecticut moved 300 men under the command of Robert Treat, along with 150 Mohegan warriors. Governor Josiah Winslow (1628-1680) of Plymouth Colony was named Commander-in-Chief. On December 19, 1675, the Narragansett fort was captured in the Great Swamp Fight.[1] 110 of Appleton's men were either killed or wounded in the battle.[7] Afterwards, Appleton and his remaining men returned to Boston and he retired from active service.

King Philip's War Casualty

In October of 1675, he was captain of a company of militia who fought against the Indians and was wounded during the Great Swamp Fight (19 Dec 1675) in Rhode Island dying (05-Feb-1676) from fever caused by the wound. His family received a grant of land in Barnstable for his service. In 1760, the town was incorporated under the name Gorham in honor of Capt. John.

The Great Swamp Fight, or the Great Swamp Massacre, was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett tribe in December of 1675. It was fought near the villages of Kingston and West Kingston in present-day South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The combined force of the New England militia including 150 Native Pequots, inflicted a huge number of Narragansett casualties, including many hundred women and children. The battle has been described as "one of the most brutal and lopsided military encounters in all of New England's history" Since the 1930s Narragansett and Wampanoag people commemorate the battle annually, in a ceremony initiated by Narragansett-Wampanoag scholar Princess Red Wing.

He died intestate. Administration granted to the widow and sons, James and John Gorham in 1675/6. The rights of the minor children were ordered to be guarded. Division of the estate was made to the widow, Desire, and children: James, John, Jabez, Mercye, Lydia, Hannah, and Shubal. Fifty pounds was set aside for the education of Shubel and the bond was signed March 9, 1676. No graves is found today.

Plymouth Regiment Commander - Major William Bradford (1624-1704) - Wounded in battle -

  • 1st Company - Captain Robert Barker
  • 2nd Company - Captain John Gorham

Marriage and Family

  1. Desire Gorham (1644-1700)
  2. Temperance Gorham (1646-1715)
  3. Elizabeth Gorham (1648-1683)
  4. James Gorham (1650-1707)
  5. John Gorham (1651-1715) - officer in the militia, rendered great aid to the King's forces in King William's War (1689-1704).
  6. Joseph Gorham (1654-1726)
  7. Jabez Gorham (1656-1726) - md Hannah Sturgis and settled in Bristol MA which became Bristol RI in 1747.
  8. Mercy Gorham (1659-1725) - md George Denison and settled in Westerly RI.
  9. Lydia Gorham (1661-1744)
  10. Shubael Gorham (1667-1750)


Offspring of John Gorham, Sr. and Desire Howland (1625-1683)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Desire Gorham (1644-1700) 2 April 1644 Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States 30 July 1700 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States John Hawes (1640-1701)
Temperance Gorham (1646-1715) 5 May 1646 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 12 March 1715 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States Edward Sturgis (1642-1678)
Elizabeth Gorham (1648-1683) 2 April 1648 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 5 March 1683 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Joseph Hallet (c1630-1715)
James Gorham (1650-1707) 28 April 1650 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 18 November 1707 Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States Hannah Huckins (1653-1727)
John Gorham (1651-1715) 20 February 1651 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 11 November 1715 Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States Mary Otis (1654-1732)
Joseph Gorham (1654-1726) 16 February 1654 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States 9 July 1726 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States Sarah Sturgis (1654-1739)
Jabez Gorham (1656-1726) 3 August 1656 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts 20 April 1726 Bristol, Bristol County, Rhode Island Hannah Sturgis (1654-1736)
Mercy Gorham (1659-1725) 20 January 1659 Barnstable, Barnstable County, Massachusetts 24 September 1725 Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island George Denison (1653-1711)
Lydia Gorham (1661-1744) 11 November 1661 Barnstable County, Massachusetts 2 August 1744 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts John Thatcher (1639-1713)
Shubael Gorham (1667-1750)



John Gorham I, whom Gorham, Maine is named after and who is the great grandfather of John Gorham 4th.


Gorham History v1.jpg


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General