GODWIN, John I (by 1507-56 or later), of Wells, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1507. m. 1s.2

Offices Held

Keeper, guild of the Holy Trinity, Wells 1528-9, rent collector 1528-9, constable 1529-30, 1534-5, 1537-9, auditor 1529-30, 1536-7, 1539-40, 154-56, master 1540-1, 1543-4, 1550-1, 1556-7.3


Godwin was so common a surname in 16th-century Wells that it is difficult to distinguish between several families which favoured John as a christian name, and which may all have sprung from the glazier John Godwin who was master in 1434 and Member of Parliament three times between 1423 and 1450.4

The John Godwin in question here is first identifiable as keeper of the guild of Holy Trinity in 1528, but by 1539 he was sufficiently established to be elected as second Member of Parliament after the lawyer John Mawdley II. At this stage he was known as John Godwin senior to distinguish him from his son and namesake who joined the Twenty-Four in 1535. After the dissolution of Parliament in the summer of 1540 the elder Godwin was chosen as master of Wells: three years later he was again elected master, this time as John Godwin, mercer, to distinguish him from John Godwin II, gentleman, who was also a citizen of Wells.5

The first Parliament of Mary involved the city in a contested election between four candidates, John Godwin, mercer, William Godwin, Thomas Lewis II and John Mawdley II. The return of John Godwin (whom the clerk described as ‘senior’) and Lewis in preference to their two rivals, who had sat before and were ostensibly of a higher social status, may reflect a disposition to reject outside influence which in turn was in line with the new government’s announced preference for genuinely local Members. Godwin, however, did not prove to be one of the ‘discreet and Catholic’ sort since he was marked on the Crown Office list for this Parliament as one who ‘stood for the true religion.’ It is tempting to see in his attitude a clue to the fact that alone of the four candidates at this election he was not to sit in another Marian Parliament. He could have sat in any of the next three, but as his name does not appear in the city act book after his last mayoralty in 1556 (he is unlikely to have been the John Godwin senior chosen as auditor in 1564) he may have died before the end of the reign. No will or inquisition has been found.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Wells act bk. 2, p. 408.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Wells act bk. 2, pp. 382-3.
  • 3. Ibid. 2, pp. 345-551 passim; 3, f. 20.
  • 4. HMC Wells, ii. chs. 601, 654.
  • 5. Wells act bk. 2, p. 345 et passim.
  • 6. Ibid. 2, p. 551; 3, f. 52; Bodl. e Museo 17.