William Godolphin (diplomat)

Last updated

William Godolphin by Peter Lely Three-quarter left side head and chest portrait of Sir William Godolphin.jpg
William Godolphin by Peter Lely

Sir William Godolphin (2 February 1635 – 11 July 1696) was an English diplomat for Charles II and Member of Parliament.



Godolphin was third but eldest surviving son of Sir William Godolphin (1605–1663) of Spargor, Cornwall; the eldest son (by Judith Meredith) of John Godolphin (the younger brother of Sir William Godolphin (1567–1613)—and Ruth (died before 1658), daughter of Sir John Lambe of East Coulston, Wiltshire. [1] [2]

Godolphin was baptised 2 February 1634, [3] and was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, gaining the degrees of Master of Arts in 1661 and Doctor of Civil Law in 1663. He became a follower of Lord Arlington, [1] and in 1665 he was elected in a by-election to Parliament as member for Camelford, however as he went to Spain early the next year he probably never took up his seat. [4]

After 1662 he was exchanging letters with the correspondent and widow Martha, Lady Giffard. [5] She had been a widow after her first marriage which only lasted for months. She was a Royalist involved with politics as she travelled with her brother living in Brussels in 1667 and later travelling with him to diplomatic meetings in Amsterdam and The Hague leading up to the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The treaty was signed in 1668 and she and Godolphin lost interest in writing to each other. [5]

In 1667, he took part in the negotiations under Sandwich which resulted in a commercial treaty with Spain. He was knighted in 1668, and in 1669 was sent as Envoy Extraordinary to Madrid, becoming Ambassador in 1672. [1] However, in 1678 he came under suspicion of having been converted to Catholicism, and was recalled; but rather than return to England, he then openly declared his Catholicism, and retired to Spain for the remaining two decades of his life. [1] Shortly before he died, he made a declaration empowering his spiritual advisers, including the procurator-general of the Jesuits, to make his will after his death; an Act of Parliament was passed in 1697 [6] to declare this and other posthumous wills invalid and to make his nephew Francis and niece Elizabeth heirs on condition that £1,520 was devoted to charity, a charitable act leading ultimately to the foundation of Godolphin and Latymer School, Hammersmith, London and Godolphin School, Salisbury. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Samuel Pepys, who met him in 1668, called Godolphin "a very pretty and able person, a man of very fine parts". [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Leslie 1890, p. 46.
  2. Venning 2008.
  3. Leslie 1890 , p. 46 cites Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 522
  4. Cruickshanks 1983.
  5. 1 2 Matthew, H. C. G.; Harrison, B., eds. (23 September 2004), "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. ref:odnb/55435, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55435 , retrieved 19 January 2023
  6. "1697 (9 Will. 3). c. 19 Confirming and establishing the administration of Sir William Godolphin's goods and chattels". legislation.gov.uk. Parliamentary Archives, Houses of Parliament, London. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  7. Leslie 1890, pp. 46–47.
  8. "Schools: Latymer and Godolphin Schools". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  9. "House of Lords Journal Volume 16: 1 April 1698 Pages 253-254". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  10. "House of Commons Journal Volume 12: 1 April 1698 Pages 188-189". British History Online. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  11. Douglas, A; Ash, R (eds.). "Elizabeth Godolphin's Will". The Godolphin Book 1726 - 1926. Retrieved 15 September 2018.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth</span>

George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth PC was an English Royal Navy officer, who was appointed Admiral of the Fleet by James II in September 1688. However, he failed to intercept the invasion force under William III that landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688 and was dismissed following the Glorious Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton</span> Scottish noble and army officer

John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton was a professional soldier and mercenary from Kincardineshire in Scotland. Beginning his career in the Thirty Years War, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms he fought for the Covenanters and Parliamentarians until 1648, when he switched sides to the Royalists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir William Dawes, 3rd Baronet</span>

Sir William Dawes, 3rd Baronet, was an Anglican prelate. He served as Bishop of Chester from 1708 to 1714 and then as Archbishop of York from 1714 to 1724. Politically he was a Hanoverian Tory, who favoured the Hanoverian Succession.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sidney Godolphin (colonel)</span> English soldier and politician

Lieutenant Colonel Sidney Godolphin (1652–1732) was an English soldier, politician and Member of Parliament for various seats between 1685 and 1732, becoming Father of the House in 1730. He also reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was Governor of Scilly from 1700 until his death in September 1732.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir Gilbert Pickering, 1st Baronet</span>

Sir Gilbert Pickering, 1st Baronet, 10 March 1611 to 17 October 1668, was a member of the landed gentry from Northamptonshire, and a religious Independent who supported Parliament in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. An MP for Northamptonshire for most of the period from 1640 to 1660, during the 1649 to 1660 Interregnum he also served as Lord Chamberlain, sat on the English Council of State, and was appointed to Cromwell's Upper House in 1658.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Trumbull</span> English diplomat and politician (1639–1716)

Sir William Trumbull was an English statesman who held high office as a member of the First Whig Junto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir Job Charlton, 1st Baronet</span> English judge and politician

Sir Job Charlton, 1st Baronet KS was an English judge and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1659 and 1679. He was Speaker of the House of Commons of England briefly in 1673.

George Berkeley, 1st Earl of Berkeley PC FRS was an English merchant and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1654 until 1658 when he succeeded to the peerage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Pickering (soldier)</span>

Colonel John Pickering, baptised 3 December 1615, died 24 November 1645, was a member of the landed gentry from Northamptonshire who served with the Parliamentarian army in the First English Civil War. Like his elder brother Sir Gilbert Pickering, a close ally of Oliver Cromwell, he was a religious Independent, known for his devout faith and radical views. Appointed colonel of an infantry regiment in the New Model Army, he died of fever at Ottery St Mary on 24 November 1645.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bevil Granville</span>

Sir Bevil Granville was an English soldier and politician from Cornwall, who was MP for Fowey and Lostwithiel from 1690 to 1698. He also served as Governor of Pendennis Castle from 1693 to 1703 and Governor of Barbados from 1703 to 1706, and died at sea on his return voyage to England in September 1706.

Sir William Godolphin was an English soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640. He fought for the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1696 Jacobite assassination plot</span>

The 1696 Jacobite assassination plot was an unsuccessful attempt led by George Barclay to ambush and kill William III and II of England, Scotland and Ireland in early 1696.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthony Henley (1667–1711)</span>

Anthony Henley (1667–1711), of the Grange, Northington, Hanmpshire, was an English Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1698 and 1711. He was noted as a wit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Twickenham Park</span>

Twickenham Park was an estate in Twickenham in south-west London.

Joshua Gee (1667–1730) was a British merchant, publicist and writer in economics who mainly focused on trade.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabeth Godolphin</span>

Elizabeth Godolphin was a British school founder and benefactor. She is buried in Westminster Abbey. Godolphin School, Salisbury, is named after her.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward Gibson (painter)</span> English portrait draughtsman (1668/9–1701)

Edward Gibson (1668/9–1701) was an English portrait painter and draughtsman. He excelled in crayon work.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Martha Giffard</span>

Martha, Lady Giffard born Martha Temple was an English letter writer and biographer. She was at her brother's side as he brought about the Triple Alliance in 1668 bringing peace to England and its neighbours.


Parliament of England
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Camelford
With: Hon. Thomas Coventry
Succeeded by