GODOLPHIN, Sir Francis (c.1534-1608), of Godolphin, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1534, 1st s. of Thomas Godolphin by his 1st w. Katherine, da. and h. of Edmund Bonython of Bonython; bro. of William. m. (1) 1552, Margaret, da. of John Killigrew of Arwennack, 3s. 6da.; (2) Alice, da. of John Skerret of Tavistock, Devon, wid. of John Glanville, s.p. suc. fa. and uncle Sir William 1570. Kntd. 1580.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. from c.1575, q. by 1583, sheriff 1579-80, 1604-5; dep. lt. from 1585; receiver-gen. duchy of Cornw. 1586; commr. piracy Cornw. by 1587, custos rot. 1597; recorder, Liskeard by 1604 or 1605.2


Godolphin was one of a number of inter-related Cornish gentry who represented the county in Elizabethan Parliaments. His first wife was a Killigrew; through his sister he was connected with the Arundell family; one of his daughters married a son of Edward Ameredith, another married George Carew. This last marriage linked Godolphin with the other knight of the shire for Cornwall in 1589—Peter Edgecombe, Carew’s uncle. Many of this south-western group were strong protestants, and judging from his will Codolphin was too. In addition to having influential local connexions, he owned large estates in the county and was a leading duchy of Cornwall official. He achieved a county seat in 1589, being appointed to committees considering returns (10 Feb.) and Exchequer reform (27 Feb.). As knight for Cornwall he was included in the subsidy committee on 11 Feb. 1589. He was returned to the 1595 Parliament for Lostwithiel, the main local centre of duchy activity. He spoke on the subsidy (7 Mar.), and was active on the subsidy committees (26, 28 Feb., 1 Mar.). He was appointed to the committee on privileges and returns (26 Feb.) and to another on Plymouth harbour (29 Mar.).3

Godolphin employed 300 men in the tin and silver mines on his estates: in 1584 it was reported that the ore yielded 30 lbs. of silver per cwt. He was the lessee of the Scilly Isles, a new lease of 1570 safeguarding his rights there, and he was responsible for the defence of the islands. About 1593 he undertook to build a fort on St. Mary’s. As deputy lieutenant he had responsibility in Cornwall under successive lord lieutenants for taking musters and, during the Armada period, for beacons, fortification of ports, rounding up of recusants, and arrangements for provisioning the fleet at Plymouth. After the Spaniards landed at Mousehole in July 1595 Godolphin ‘engaged himself very worthily’ at Penzance.4

He was buried at Breage 23 Apr. 1608. His will, dated 4 Oct. 1606, was proved 13 May 1608 by his eldest son William, his successor as receiver of the duchy. As well as bequests to his wife and children, Godolphin left £200 to the poor, £40 towards equipping a local house of correction, should it be set up, and 20 marks to build ‘lodges’ for four tinners. Four preachers were to receive 13s.4d. for sermons at Helston church.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.


  • 1. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 80-1; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 184; Rylands Eng. ms 311; F. G. Marsh, The Godolphins , passim.
  • 2. SP12/179; Duchy of Cornw. recs. roll 256; PRO Index 4208 and 6800, f. 65; Lansd. 115, f. 224; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 234.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 430, 431, 440, 471, 474, 478, 481, 494, 512; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 74.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 185, 304, 305, 502; A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 54-5, 385, 402-3, 405-6, 415-17; VCH Cornw. i. 493; Lansd. 86, f. 189.
  • 5. PCC 46 Windebanck.