GODOLPHIN, Francis (1605-1667), of Godolphin, Breage, Cornw.

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 22 Jan. 1644
1644 (Oxf. Parl.)
8 Aug. 1660

Family and Education

b. 25 Dec. 1605,1 1st s. of Sir William Godolphin* of Godolphin and Thomasine, da. and h. of Thomas Sidney of Wighton, Norf.; bro. of Sidney*.2 educ. Exeter Coll., Oxf. 1624.3 m. by 1635, Dorothy (d.1668), da. of Sir Henry Berkeley* of Yarlington, Som., 6s. at least 8da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1613;4 cr. KB 23 Apr. 1661.5 d. 22 Mar. 1667.6 sig. Fra[ncis] Godolphin.

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Cornw. 1626-at least 1641,7 subsidy 1629,8 swans, W. Country 1629;9 v.-adm. Scilly Isles by 1630-at least 1638;10 rcvr. to 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*), Cornw. from 1630;11 stannator, Penwith and Kerrier, Cornw. 1636, 1662;12 sheriff, Cornw. 1637-8,13 commr. hard soap, W. Country 1638;14 rcvr. Crown revenues, Devon and Cornw. 1640-at least 1644, by 1663-d.;15 dep. lt. Cornw. from c.1640, from 1662,16 commr. assessment 1641, 1661, 1663-d.,17 array 1642,18 j.p. from 1642, 1660-at least 1666;19 commr. oyer and terminer, Western circ. 1665-d.20

Gov. Scilly Isles 1640-6, 1660-d.21


Godolphin was born in Westminster, probably because his father was in attendance at Court. Orphaned at the age of seven, he was brought up by his uncle, Sir Francis Godolphin*, who in 1626 introduced him to Parliament as a Member for Helston while he was still a minor. Two years later, now technically head of his family, Godolphin demonstrated his local standing by securing a burgess-ship at nearby St. Ives, while Helston provided a place for his younger brother Sidney. No record survives of his Commons activities on either occasion.22

More than a decade elapsed after the termination of his wardship before Godolphin acquired the full range of his father’s West Country offices and estates. Sir Francis retained the governorship of Scilly and the receivership of Devon and Cornwall until he died in 1640, although in the interim Godolphin took over his Vice-Admiralty functions and gained administrative experience as the earl of Salisbury’s Cornish receiver. Moreover, the family’s lease of Scilly rested with his youngest brother William until 1636, when his death enabled Godolphin to renew it in his own name.23 As sheriff of Cornwall in 1637-8, he collected his full quota of Ship Money, though he failed to clear his account before completing his term of office.24

Godolphin represented his county in the Short Parliament, and again found a place at Helston in November 1640. Notwithstanding his earlier opposition to the Bishops’ Wars, his mounting disquiet at the Long Parliament’s reform programme led him to side with the king upon the outbreak of the Civil War, and, although reluctant to fight in person, he funded a Cornish foot regiment. Disabled from membership of the Commons in January 1644, he attended the Oxford Parliament.25 Godolphin commanded the royalist garrison on Scilly until early 1646, when he escorted Prince Charles to Jersey. His sequestration for delinquency was lifted in January 1647, but he remained an object of suspicion, and was imprisoned in the Fleet in 1651 for corresponding with Charles.26 As executor to his brother Sidney, who was killed in 1643, Godolphin had arranged payment of a £200 legacy to Thomas Hobbes, and this duty, rather than any close personal tie, probably explains why the philosopher dedicated Leviathan to him in April 1651. Godolphin certainly did not accept the book’s advocacy of submission to a regime possessing de facto authority, since he continued during the 1650s to communicate with royalist sympathizers such as William Sancroft.27

The Restoration saw Godolphin return to public life, and he represented Helston once more in the 1660 Convention. His will, drawn up in June 1665, designated portions totalling £5,400 for his five unmarried daughters, besides comfortable annuities for his widow and younger sons. Described as ‘a person of great integrity’ when he died in March 1667, many of his papers were destroyed in a fire at Godolphin House two weeks later, and his will was proved using a nuncupative formula. Three of his sons, including the future lord treasurer, sat in Charles II’s parliaments.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Anne Duffin / Paul Hunneyball



  • 1. C142/346/172.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 184.
  • 3. Al. Ox. Godolphin seems to have spent time in Oxford prior to his matriculation , since in 1623 an Exeter College member of the same name contributed verses to a book celebrating Prince Charles’s return from Spain: G.C. Boase and W.P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 177.
  • 4. Vivian, 184-5; Cornw. RO, FP18/1/1, pp. 19-20, 31.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 165.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1667, p. 17.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 196; 181/5, ff. 83v, 187v.
  • 8. E179/89/320b.
  • 9. C181/4, f. 3.
  • 10. HCA 30/820 no. 18; CSP Dom. 1637-8, pp. 362-3.
  • 11. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 259-60.
  • 12. Bodl. Add. C.85, p. 19; HEHL, HM 30664 unfol.
  • 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
  • 14. C181/5, f. 92.
  • 15. T. Rymer, Foedera, ix. pt. 3, p. 38; CSP Dom. 1644, pp. 107-8; 1663-4, p. 81; C66/3093/10.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 69; SP29/60/66.
  • 17. SR, v. 82, 329, 455, 529, 572, 619. The Francis Godolphin appointed in 1660 was probably not the MP: SR, v. 210.
  • 18. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 19. C231/5, p. 529; C220/9/4, f. 11v; C66/3074.
  • 20. C181/7, pp. 313, 382. HP Commons, 1660-90, ii. 404 fails to distinguish the MP from another Francis Godolphin who served 1660-at least 1665.
  • 21. CTB, 1660-7, p. 231; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 140; HMC Le Fleming, 46.
  • 22. Memorials of St. Margaret’s, Westminster ed. A.M. Burke, 72; C2/Chas.I/C31/20.
  • 23. PROB 11/122, f. 430; J. Collinson, Hist. and Antiqs. of Som. i. 216; C66/2736/9.
  • 24. PC2/49, pp. 309, 576; 2/50, p. 260.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 69; PC2/51, p. 79; A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 167-8, 179, 182, 185, 199-200; P. R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 159; CJ, iii. 374a; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, v. 573.
  • 26. CTB, 1660-7, p. 231; S.E. Hoskins, Charles II and the Channel Is. i. 356; CJ, v. 52a; FSL, X.d.483 (75, 78, 97); CSP Dom. 1651, p. 414.
  • 27. PROB 10/641; H. Trevor-Roper, Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans, 185; T. Hobbes, Leviathan ed. M. Oakeshott, 2; Bodl. Tanner 52, f. 138; 314, f. 62.
  • 28. PROB 11/325, ff. 128-9; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 584; 1667, p. 17.