Two of the judges who had condemned Charles I to death fled on a ship to New England in 1660. The arrival in Boston of these regicides, William Goffe and Edward Whalley, caused mixed emotions, but in New Haven a sympathetic minister took his text from the Bible: "Hide the outcasts, betray not him that wandereth." The pair went inland from hiding place to hiding place and finally found permanent lodging with Micah Tompkins in Milford on August 19, 1661.
The judges lived in utter seclusion for two years, "without so much as going into the orchard." A few townsmen, including Robert Treat, knew of their presence in Tompkins' cellar but when royal agents came seeking the pair, no Milfordite admitted anything. Tompkins must have had some difficulty within his own family, but it is related that none of his seven children -- including four curious daughters -- knew that "angels were in the basement." Sometimes the innocent girls sang a popular ballad ridiculing the regicides, greatly amusing the fugitives.
Their success in hiding Goffe and Whalley only heightened the concern among Milford's Puritans. Suppose Charles decided to strike in fury at those Puritan colonies which openly hated the monarchy? Connecticut Governor John Winthrop hastened to England in 1661 to plead for terms and to seek a new charter.
As a counter-measure, Milford sent Robert Treat and three associates to New Amsterdam in November, 1661, to negotiate for land in the Dutch colony. New Amsterdam the previous spring had issued an invitation to "all Christian people of tender conscience in England or elsewhere oppressed, to erect colonies anywhere within the jurisdiction of Petrus Stuyvesant, anywhere in the West Indies, between New England and Virginia in America.
When King Charles II ascended to the throne of England on May 29, 1660, fearful questions swept through New England. How would Charles regard the generous self-government that the Puritan colonies had enjoyed? What retribution would he demand for the beheading of his father, Charles I, in 1649?