Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Weekend Planner: Talk

The story goes that when the English colonial village of Hadley was attacked by Indians in 1675 a white-bearded stranger appeared suddenly among the panicked townspeople. Wielding an old sword, he arrayed the outnumbered villagers into a formidable militia and repelled the assault. Then he disappeared.

Who was this mysterious figure? What the Hadleyites did not know was that their minister, John Russell, had been secretly hiding two Englishmen, General William Goffe and his father-in-law, General Edward Whalley, for 11 years. As parliamentarian military officers during the English Civil War of the 1640s the two had signed a death warrant for King Charles I; when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 they became wanted men and had to flee to the American Colonies. Goffe’s supposed emergence from concealment during a moment of crisis and heroic actions as “The Angel of Hadley” became the stuff of legend, a tale retold in various ways by Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

On Friday, University of Massachusetts historian James A. Freeman will be at the Amherst History Museum//Simeon Strong House to separate fact from fiction as part of the museum’s free “History Bites” Lunchtime Lecture Series. 12:15 p.m. Bring your lunch; coffee, tea or cider provided. The museum is at 67 Amity St. in Amherst. www.amhersthistory.org

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