Judges Cave near New Haven, CT reveals early colonial manhunt

Edward Whalley, William Goffe and John Dixwell were three of the 59 British judges who sentenced King Charles I to death in 1649, dissolving the monarchy and placing Oliver Cromwell into power instead. When Charles II, the son of the executed king, was restored to the throne in 1660, he exacted his revenge on the men who had his father beheaded. He issued an order that each regicide should be hanged, drawn, and quartered. In order to avoid this grisly fate, Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell fled to North America. Click here for a five-minute video of the rest of the story recorded in June, 2023 on New England History Nerd and published on Atlas Obscura.

Whalley and Goffe hid in constant fear of being recognized by royal informants. Soon after their arrival, a warrant was issued for their arrests, so they joined Dixwell in New Haven.

Whalley and Goffe were hidden in the woods of what is now West Rock Ridge State Park. In that wilderness there is a large rock with a few cracks in it. It was here the two judges hid for an unknown length of time, starting on May 15, 1661

When a panther forced the pair to acknowledge the impracticality of living in the woods, they fled in the night to Hadley, Massachusetts, where they remained for the rest of their days. In honor of the infamous fugitives, the mini cave was named “Judges Cave” and the path leading up to it, “Regicides Trail.”