GODOLPHIN, Charles (c.1651-1720), of Westminster and Coulston, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1701

Family and Education

b. c.1651 5th s. of Francis Godolphin, and bro. of Sidney Godolphin I and Sir William Godolphin, 1st Bt. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric 16 Mar. 1666, aged 15; M. Temple 1670, called 1677. m. lic. 27 June 1687, his cos. Elizabeth (d. 29 July 1726), da. of Francis Godolphin of Spargor, St Mabyn, Cornw. 1s. 1da. d.v.p.1

Offices Held

Assay-master of the stannaries 1681-d.; inspector of tin coinage Sept. 1688, commr. 1689; asst. R. Africa Co. 1690-1; commr. of customs 1691-1714, union with Scotland 1702; registrar of shipping 1702-d.2

J.p. Cornw. by 1701-?d.


Although Godolphin qualified as a barrister, there is no evidence that he practised. He had private means, investing £400 in the East India Company in 1676, though later he obtained a better yield from Royal Africa stock. He served under his elder brother Sidney at the Treasury and was returned with him for Helston in 1681. Both brothers attended the Oxford Parliament, but played no known part in it. Shortly after the dissolution Godolphin was given a post in the stannary administration with a salary of £200 p.a. He was re-elected in 1685, but was again totally inactive in James II’s Parliament. His marriage brought him an estate in Wiltshire, besides expectations from his wife’s wealthy uncle, (Sir) William Godolphin.3

Godolphin was re-elected to the Convention, in which he was appointed to only eight committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, but made 15 recorded speeches. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. On 20 Feb. 1689 he argued that the House had been elected merely to prepare for a Parliament, and read out his own return to prove his point. A member of the committee to draw up the coronation oath, he supported the inclusion of the phrase ‘to preserve the Church, etc. as it is now established by law’, declaring:

I would have tender consciences come in at the door and not pull down the rafters to come in at the roof. Those who stood to the Protestant religion were the bishops; those who were against it were those who managed Brent’s regulation of corporations; and I would have no countenance given to them.

On 9 Apr. he was appointed to the committee to prepare an address of thanks to the King for his declaration to maintain the Church of England. On the bill of settlement he proposed an amendment to assert not only the Queen’s merit, but her title to the succession ‘that the monarchy might be looked upon as hereditary and not elective’, and later in the debate strongly denied that he managed this as ‘a stratagem from France’, saying ‘this proviso was suggested to me by no man’. He opposed the bill to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, declaring ‘some time ago we did arraign the Government of arbitrary power exercised against law. We go about now to establish arbitrary government by law.’ He was given a month’s leave of absence early in July, but he returned after the recess. He was named to the committee of inquiry into war expenditure, and in the supply debate of 9 Nov. proposed a land tax at the rate of 2s.in the pound.4

Godolphin continued to support the Government while his brother was in power. He gave up his seat in 1701 when it was declared incompatible with his place as chairman of the board of customs. He died on 10 July 1720, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. F. G. Marsh, Godolphin Fam. 38; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 184.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 245; viii. 2060; ix. 266, 1191; xvii. 210, 245; xxviii. 242; xxix. 327.
  • 3. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, x. 405; Add. 28052, ff. 85, 90; HMC 7th Rep. 294; Marsh, 38.
  • 4. Grey, ix. 105-6, 198, 237, 239-40, 295-6, 403; CJ, x. 65.
  • 5. Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 300.