Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Godolphin, Sidney (1610-1643)

GODOLPHIN, SIDNEY (1610–1643), poet, second son of Sir William Godolphin (d 1613) of Godolphin, Cornwall, by his wife, Thomasin Sidney, was baptised 15 Jan. 1609–10 (Boase and Courtney). He was admitted a commoner of Exeter College, Oxford, 25 June 1624, aged 18, remained there for three years, and afterwards entered one of the inns of court, and travelled abroad. He was elected member for Helston in 1628; again to the Short parliament in March 1640, and to the Long parliament in October 1640. He was known as an adherent of Strafford, and was one of the last royalist members to leave the house. Upon the breaking out of the civil war he made a final speech of warning (Somers Tracts, vi. 574), and left to raise a force in Cornwall. He joined the army commanded by Sir Ralph Hopton, which crossed the Tamar and advanced into Devonshire. Their declaration signed by Godolphin is in ‘Lismore Papers’ (2nd ser. v. 116). Godolphin, whose advice, according to Clarendon, was highly valued by the commanders in spite of his want of military experience, was shot in a skirmish at Chagford, a village which, as Clarendon unkindly and erroneously observes, would otherwise have remained unknown. He was buried in the chancel of Okehampton Church 10 Feb. 1642–3. Godolphin was a young man of remarkable promise, intimate with Falkland and Clarendon, and is commended by Hobbes in the dedication of the ‘Leviathan’ to his brother, Francis Godolphin, and also in the ‘Review’ and conclusion of the same work (Hobbes, English Works (Molesworth), iii. 703). His will, dated 23 June 1642, containing a bequest of 200l. to Hobbes, is now in Mr. Morrison's collection. Clarendon, in his ‘Brief View’ of the ‘Leviathan,’ contrives to accept Hobbes's eulogy and insult the eulogist in the same sentence, remarking that no two men could be ‘more unlike in modesty of nature and integrity of manners.’ Clarendon, in his own life (i. 51–3), describes Godolphin as a very small man, shy, sensitive, and melancholy, though universally admired. In Suckling's ‘Session of the Poets’ he is called ‘Little Sid.’ He left several poems, which were never collected in a separate volume. ‘The Passion of Dido for Æneas, as it is incomparably expressed in the fourth book of Virgil,’ finished by Edmund Waller, was published in 1658 and 1679, and is in the fourth volume of Dryden's ‘Miscellany Poems’ (1716, iv. 134–53). He was one of ‘certain persons of quality’ whose translation of Corneille's ‘Pompée’ was published in 1664. A song is in Ellis's ‘Specimens’ (1811, iii. 229), and one in the ‘Tixall Poetry’ (1813, pp. 216–18). Other poems in manuscript are in the Harleian MSS. (6917) and the Malone MSS. in the Bodleian Library. Commendatory verses by him are prefixed to Sandys's ‘Paraphrase’ (1638), and an ‘epitaph upon the Lady Rich’ is in Gauden's ‘Funerals made Cordials’ (1658). He gave some plate to Exeter College, Oxford.

[Collins's Peerage, 1779, vii. 297; Clarendon's Rebellion, iii. 429, iv. 99; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; Boase's Reg. Exeter Coll. pp. lxi. 248; Nugent's Life of Hampden, ii. 373; Elliot's Godolphin (1888), pp. 28–33.]

L. S.