Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Godwin, Francis

GODWIN, FRANCIS, D.D. (1562–1633), bishop successively of Llandaff and Hereford, born in 1562 at Hannington in Orlingbury hundred, Northamptonshire, was son of the Rev. Thomas Godwin [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells, by his wife Isabella, daughter of Nicholas Purefoy of Shalstone, Buckinghamshire (Bridges, Northamptonshire, ii. 98). In his sixteenth year he was sent to the university of Oxford, and in 1578 he was elected junior student of Christ Church. He studied with great reputation, and was admitted B.A. 23 Jan. 1580–1, being of the same standing as the famous Henry Cuff [q. v.] He commenced M.A. in 1584, at which time he was ‘accounted one of the most ingenious persons as well as assiduous students in the university.’ In 1586 he held the prebend of St. Decumans in the cathedral church of Wells (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 196), and on 11 June 1587 he was collated to the subdeanery of Exeter. In 1590 he accompanied his old friend, the learned Camden, into Wales in search of antiquities. He was admitted to the degree of B.D. on 11 Feb. 1593–4 (Clark, Register of Univ. of Oxford, ii. 92). On 30 Jan. 1595–6 he took the degree of D.D., being then rector of Sampford Dorcas, Somersetshire, canon residentiary of Wells, rector of Bishops Lydiard, by the resignation of the vicarage of Weston-in-Zoyland, all in the same county, and sub-dean of Exeter.

In 1601 he published his ‘Catalogue of the Bishops of England,’ which was so generally approved that Queen Elizabeth immediately appointed him bishop of Llandaff in succession to Dr. William Morgan, who was translated to St. Asaph. He was nominated by the queen on 5 Oct. 1601, elected on the 14th, confirmed on 20 Nov., and consecrated on the 22nd in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster (Stubbs, Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, p. 88; Le Neve, ii. 252). Wood observes that the reward, though royal, consisted rather of title than substance, as the bishopric did not then produce more than 150l. a year. Therefore he had liberty to retain one of his former dignities, which seems to have been the subdeanery of Exeter, and also to take the rectory of Kingston Seymour, in the diocese of Bath and Wells. On 26 July 1603 he was presented by Lord-keeper Egerton to the rectory of Shere Newton, Monmouthshire. On 14 Oct. 1607 he wrote from Malvern to Sir Thomas Lake begging his interest to procure him the archdeaconry of Gloucester, vacant by the preferment of the Bishop of Gloucester to the see of London. He said the archdeaconry was worth 80l. a year, and he offered Sir Thomas 80l. for his interest (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1603–10, p. 354).

During his sixteen years' tenure of the see of Llandaff he employed his leisure in improving his ‘Catalogue of Bishops,’ and in collecting materials for the civil and ecclesiastical history of England. In 1615 he published an improved edition of his ‘Catalogue,’ with a dedication to James I, and annals of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary, in elegant Latin. As a reward for these labours he was by the king's desire translated to the see of Hereford, in succession to Dr. Robert Bennet, on 10 Nov. 1617. He was elected on the 13th, and received the royal assent on the 24th, and the archbishop's confirmation on the 28th of the same month, the temporalities being restored to him on 20 Dec. (Le Neve, i. 470). Dr. Thomas Ryves, king's advocate, an unsuccessful candidate for the chancellorship of Hereford diocese, complained in a petition, 22 Nov. 1625, to Charles I that the bishop had conferred the chancellorship of his diocese upon one of his sons, a divine inexperienced in the civil law (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1625–6, p. 155). On 9 April 1627 Godwin wrote to inform Lord-keeper Coventry that the privy council's letter of 9 Aug., for apprehending George Berington and one Hanmer, two Romish priests, was delivered to one of the bishop's people ‘upon the way, and that opened,’ seven weeks after date. The bishop added that he presently took his horse, and used all the means he could, but without effect (ib. 1627–8, p. 133). In the latter part of his life he ‘fell into a low and languishing disease.’ He died in April 1633, and was buried on the 29th of that month in the chancel of his church at Whitbourne, which, with the manor, belongs to the bishops of Hereford.

He married, when a young man, the daughter of Dr. John Wolton, bishop of Exeter, by whom he had many children, including (1) Thomas Godwin, D.D., vicar of Newland, Gloucestershire, and chancellor of the diocese of Hereford, who died in 1644; (2) Morgan Godwin, D.C.L., archdeacon of Salop, who died in 1645; (3) Charles Godwin, who was beneficed at Monmouth; and (4) a daughter, who was married to Dr. John Hughes, archdeacon of Hereford.

Wood describes him as ‘a good man, a grave divine, skilful mathematician, excellent philosopher, pure Latinist, and incomparable historian, being no less critical in histories than the learned Selden’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 555); but Browne Willis remarks that ‘notwithstanding the freedom he takes with other bishops' reputations, he was certainly a very great Symoniack, [and] omitted no opportunity in disposing of his preferments, in order to provide for his children’ (Survey of Cathedrals, ‘Hereford,’ p. 525).

His works are: 1. ‘Catalogus Episcoporum Bathoniensium et Wellensium,’ manuscript in Trinity College, Cambridge, dated 15 Dec. 1594; cf. Baker's MS. 33, ff. 391–5. It is larger, more elegant, and in some things more accurate, than the article on the bishops of Bath and Wells, even in the last edition of his elaborate printed work. It was published in part by Hearne in his edition of John de Whethamstede's ‘Chronicon,’ 1732, p. 635. Hearne had previously printed a portion of it in John de Trokelowe's ‘Annales Edwardi II,’ p. 381. 2. ‘Concio Lat. in Luc. 5, 3,’ 1601, 4to. 3. ‘A Catalogue of the Bishops of England since the first planting of Christian Religion in this Island; together with a brief History of their Lives and Memorable Actions, so near as can be gathered out of Antiquity,’ London, 1601, 4to, in black letter, dedicated to Thomas Sackville, lord Buckhurst, lord high treasurer, to whom he was chaplain. A second edition appeared in 1615 with many additions, and (a) ‘Discourse concerning the first Conversion of our Britain unto Christian Religion,’ and (b) ‘Discourse concerning such Englishmen as have either been, or in our Histories reputed, Cardinals of the Church of Rome.’ He translated the whole work into Latin under the title of ‘De Præsvlibvs Angliæ Commentarius: Omnivm Episcoporvm, necnon et Cardinalivm eivsdem gentis, nomina, tempora, seriem, atqve Actiones maximè memorabiles ab vltima antiquitate repetita complexus,’ London, 1616, 4to. A splendid edition of this work, with annotations and a continuation by William Richardson, master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, was printed in 2 vols., Cambridge, 1743, fol. Of the early editions there are several copies, with manuscript notes, among the collections of Rawlinson and Gough in the Bodleian Library. Wood says that Godwin endeavoured ‘out of a puritanical pique’ to bring a scandal on the catholic bishops, and to advance the credit of those prelates who, like himself, were married after the Reformation period. After the appearance of the first edition of the ‘Catalogue’ Sir John Harington [q. v.] of Kelston wrote for Prince Henry's private use a continuation of the ‘Catalogue’ under the title ‘A brief View of the State of the Church of England as it stood in Queen Elizabeth's and King James's reign, to the year 1608’ (published 1653). 4. ‘Rerum Anglicarum Henrico VIII, Edwardo VI, et Maria regnantibus, Annales,’ London, 1616–28, 4to, 1630, fol. An English translation by his son Morgan Godwin, dedicated to Lord Scudamore, has been several times printed. In 1675 it was printed with Bacon's ‘History of Henry VII.’ The work was translated into French by Le sieur De Loigny, Paris, 1647, 4to. The ‘Life of Queen Mary,’ newly translated into English by J. Hughes from the bishop's Latin, is printed in vol. ii. of ‘A Complete History of England,’ 1706, fol. 5. ‘Statement of a Project for Conveying Intelligence into Besieged Towns and Fortresses, and receiving Answers therefrom under conditions specified,’ dated 7 March 1620–1, and signed by the bishop and his son Thomas; manuscript in State Paper Office, Dom. James I, vol. cxx. art. 11. 6. ‘Appendix ad Commentarium de Præsulibus Angliæ,’ London, 1621–2, 4to. 7. ‘Nuncius inanimatus,’ ‘Utopiæ,’ 1629, and 1657, 8vo. Translated into English by Dr. Thomas Smith of Magdalen College, Oxford, who entitled it ‘The Mysterious Messenger, unlocking the Secrets of Men's Hearts,’ printed with ‘The Man in the Moone,’ London, 1657, 8vo. This and the following work were written when Godwin was a student at Oxford. 8. ‘The Man in the Moone, or a Discourse of a Voyage thither by Domingo Gonsales, the Speedy Messenger,’ London, 1638, 1657, and 1768, 8vo. It was published after the author's death by ‘E. M.’ of Christ Church. The work shows that Godwin had some imagination and was well acquainted with the Copernican system. It was translated into French by J. Baudoin, Paris, 1648, 8vo; La Haye, 1651, 12mo, and 1671. It is generally supposed that from this work Dr. Wilkins, bishop of Chester, derived several hints for his ‘Discovery of a New World in the Moon,’ and that Cyrano de Bergerac also borrowed from it in the ‘Voyage to the Moon.’ Swift is usually credited with having derived from De Bergerac some ideas for ‘Gulliver's Travels,’ particularly in the voyage to Laputa, but there is no reason why he should not have taken them directly from Godwin.

Vertue engraved a portrait of Godwin in 1742 for Richardson's edition of ‘De Præsulibus.’

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 555, 882; Godwin, De Præsulibus (Richardson), pp. 496, 613; Dr. Campbell in Biog. Brit.; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy), i. 196, 390, 470, ii. 252; Wood's Hist. et Antiquitates Oxon. p. 262; Rymer's Fœdera, xvii. 28, 451; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 5th edit. ii. 54; Hallam's Lit. of Europe (1854), iii. 168; Willis's Survey of the Cathedral of Llandaff (1719), p. 67; Rawlinson's Hereford, p. 212; Kennett MS. 50, f. 134; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. ii. 209; Calendars of State Papers, Dom. (1611–18) pp. 368, 497, 499, (1619–1623), pp. 232, 233, 398, 401, 480, (1623–5) pp. 128, 152, 379, (1625–6) pp. 155, 176, 540, 562, (1629–31) p. 486, (1631–3) p. 445, (1633–4) pp. 40, 323, 471.]

T. C.