GODFREY, Richard II (1592-1642), of New Romney, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 23 Nov. 1592, 3rd s. of Thomas Godfrey (d.1624), jurat of Lydd, Kent being o.s. with 3rd w. Elizabeth, da. of Richard Allard of Biddenden, Kent; half-bro. of Thomas*. educ. St. John’s, Camb.; M. Temple 1610; travelled abroad (France, Utd. Provinces, Spanish Neths.) 1616. m. c.1615, Mary, da. of John Moyle of Buckwell, nr. Wye, Kent, 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 8da.1 d. 15 Mar. 1642.2

Offices Held

Freeman and jurat, New Romney 1624;3 dep. to the Guestling of the Cinque Ports 1624, 1626-7, auditor 1624, 1627;4 commr. sewers, Walland Marsh, Kent 1625, sale of Camber Castle, Suss. 1626.5


Godfrey was the son of a jurat of Lydd, a small town on the Kent coast which was regarded as a ‘limb’ of New Romney. Like his two elder half-brothers he attended St. John’s College, Cambridge, and in 1610 he was enrolled at the Middle Temple, where he was bound with William Plomer. In the spring of 1616, he and a small group of friends and relatives toured northern France, the Spanish Netherlands and the United Provinces for six weeks, a journey which cost him £28 10s. On 23 Jan. 1624 he was sworn a freeman of New Romney and elected to Parliament as the borough’s junior burgess. His only committees in the last Jacobean Parliament were to consider bills to confirm the grant to the lord mayor of London, Martin Lumley, of a Kentish estate forfeited for praemunire (12 Mar.) and to qualify the Scottish divine Walter Balcanquhall by naturalization for the deanery of Rochester (8 May).6 On 28 Apr. he was granted privilege for his bailiff who had been arrested by the under-sheriff of Kent on a private suit.7 During his absence he was elected a jurat of New Romney.8 Shortly after his return from Westminster, he served as New Romney’s representative at the Cinque Ports’ own parliament, known as the ‘guestling’, a duty which he also performed in 1626 and 1627.

Re-elected to Parliament in 1625, Godfrey left no trace on its records. During the interval between the Westminster and Oxford sittings, his colleagues on the New Romney corporation discussed a serious incident in which he had been involved. In a recent target practice in the close adjoining his house he had accidentally killed a man who had been sleeping in the lane that ran alongside his property. Although Godfrey had been pardoned at law, the corporation was aware that, by the terms of the charter of the Cinque Ports, it was entitled to seize his goods if it wished. However, it declined to exercise this right as it recognized that Godfrey had, at considerable expense, twice served as the borough’s parliamentary representative without wages, ‘which is more than any other jurat hath done heretofore’.9

Godfrey carried the canopy for New Romney at the Coronation of Charles I in February 1626.10 He subsequently kept some of the material for himself, which he used to cover his chairs and stools.11 Elected to Parliament for a third time in 1626, Godfrey was named to just one committee, that concerned with a bill to sever the entail on the estate of (Sir) James Altham†. Following the dissolution, and despite having played very little recorded part in the House’s proceedings, Godfrey was given a silver cup by New Romney ‘for my service in the Parliament’. In July 1627 he was appointed to help audit the accounts of the two ships set out by the Cinque Ports the previous year following rumours of an imminent Spanish invasion.12 He did not seek re-election to Parliament in 1628, but instead gave way to his more active half-brother. Sometime thereafter he went to live near his wife’s family at Wye. On 18 Aug. 1638, while still in good health, he drew up his will, liberally sprinkling it with texts from the Bible. He died in March 1642 and was probably buried at Wye, in accordance with his request. His direct descendants did not sit in Parliament.13

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Soc. Gen. Lydd par. reg.; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 192; PROB 11/123, f. 399; Top. and Gen. ii. 453, 455-7.
  • 2. W. Morris, Wye, 81.
  • 3. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AC2, p. 28.
  • 4. Cal. of White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports ed. F. Hull (Kent Recs. xix), 431, 434, 437.
  • 5. C181/3, f. 89; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 115.
  • 6. CJ, i. 683b, 700b.
  • 7. Ibid. 693b, 761a; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 129.
  • 8. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/ACo/1, f. 41.
  • 9. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AC/2, pp. 46-7.
  • 10. Ibid. 52.
  • 11. Cent. Kent. Stud. PRC 16/240, f. 362.
  • 12. Cal. of White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports, 439.
  • 13. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AC2, ff. 28, 40, 51; Cent. Kent. Stud. PRC16/240, f. 362.