GOFFE, EDMUND, soldier and politician; b. c. 1670 at Cambridge, Mass., son of Samuel and Hannah (Bernard) Goffe; married Hannah Lynde, daughter of Samuel Lynde, in May 1696; was married, a second time, 24 June 1728, to Mrs. Mary Norden, widow of Colonel Nathaniel Norden of Marblehead, Mass.; d. 16 Oct. 1740, at Cambridge, without issue.
From the size of his fines while a student at Harvard, Goffe seems to have been “the most obstreperous undergraduate of his day” (C. K. Shipton). Upon graduation in 1692 Goffe entered public life, as befitted a member of a prominent Massachusetts family. His early career consisted of odd jobs such as constable and surveyor. In 1710 he served as a lieutenant-colonel in the expedition against Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.) under Francis Nicholson, but scarcely distinguished himself. On his return he was taken to court charged with using his position to defraud the colony. A conviction was obtained, but later reversed. In 1711 Goffe participated in the preparations for Sir Hovenden Walker’s expedition to Canada. Four years later he was one of two commissioners appointed to negotiate with the Cape Sable Indians when they seized some 27 New England fishing vessels.
Representing Cambridge in the Massachusetts General Court in 1716, 1720, and 1721, Goffe served on a committee dealing with Indian affairs. He relinquished his seat in the General Court in 1721 to become commander of the forces to be sent against the eastern Indians. He occupied this post for about three years, until he was once again accused of fraud. Goffe’s remaining years brought him considerable financial difficulties. In 1733 Governor Jonathan Belcher referred to him as “a poor bankrupt lost wretch.” C. K. Shipton has said of his military career that “Col. Goffe’s services . . . were not so notable for fighting as for a system of graft which he and some of his fellow officers developed.”
“Journal of Colonel Nicholson at the capture of Annapolis, 1710,” N.S. Hist. Soc. Coll., I (1878), 69. Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts (25v., Mass. Hist. Soc. pub., Boston, 1919–50), I, 48, 56, 58; III, 17. N.S. Archives, II. Sylvester, Indian wars, III, 186–87. Shipton, Sibley’s Harvard graduates, IV, 57, 58. L. R. Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1877 (Boston, 1877) 403.