GODOLPHIN, Sidney (1610-1643), of Godolphin, Breage, Cornw.; later of Wighton, Norf.

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.) - 8 Feb. 1643

Family and Education

bap. 14 Jan. 1610,1 2nd s. of Sir William Godolphin* (d.1613) and Thomasine, da. and h. of Thomas Sidney of Wighton, Norf.; bro. of Francis*.2 educ. Exeter Coll. Oxf. 1624;3 travelled abroad (France, Low Countries) inc. academy, Angers, France 1630;4 embassy, Denmark 1632.5 unm. d. 8 Feb. 1643.6 sig. Sidney Godolphin.

Offices Held

Gent. of the Privy Chamber extraordinary 1635-d.7

Trooper, 1st Bps.’ War 1639,8 (roy.) 1642-d.9

?Commr. array, Cornw. 1642.10


Orphaned at the age of three, Godolphin inherited his mother’s north Norfolk estates, including a seat at Wighton. Doubtless raised in Cornwall by his uncle, Sir Francis Godolphin*, he matriculated at Oxford in 1624, though as a member of Exeter College he had already contributed in the previous year to a volume of verses celebrating Prince Charles’s return from Spain.11 According to Anthony Wood, Godolphin remained at the university for around three years ‘under a careful and excellent tutor’. In 1628, still aged only 18, he was elected on his family’s interest to sit for Helston in the third Caroline Parliament, but left no trace on the Commons’ records.12

Godolphin’s inheritance left him ‘liberally supplied for a very good education, and for a cheerful subsistence, in any course of life he proposed to himself’. Following a period of private foreign travel, in 1632 he accompanied his distant kinsman Sir Robert Sidney*, 2nd earl of Leicester, on a diplomatic mission to Denmark. Thereafter, he successfully sought a place at Court, ‘where his excellent disposition and manners, and extraordinary qualifications, made him very acceptable’.13 A minor poet, whose works display the influence of John Donne*, Godolphin belonged to the Great Tew circle, through which he befriended both Sir Edward Hyde† (later Lord Clarendon) and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.14

Despite his diminutive stature and delicate disposition, Godolphin rallied to the king in the First Bishops’ War. Returned for Helston to both the Short and Long Parliaments, he opposed the attainder of Strafford (Sir Thomas Wentworth*), and emerged as one of Cornwall’s leading royalists at the outbreak of the Civil War. He declined an army commission, but saw active service under (Sir) Ralph Hopton* across much of the West Country. Killed during a skirmish at Chagford, Devon on 8 Feb. 1643, he was buried at Okehampton two days later.15 Unmarried and childless,16 Godolphin had made his will on 23 June 1642, leaving his estates to his brother Francis. He also bequeathed £200 to his friend Hobbes, and £1,000 to Jane Berkeley, his brother-in-law’s sister, whom Wood described as Godolphin’s ‘sweetheart’. Francis proved the will in Oxford on 11 Mar. 1644, and again in London on 29 Jan. 1647.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Anne Duffin / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Cornw. RO, FP18/1/1, p. 7.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 184.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. Clarendon, Life, i. 52; ‘Les Gentilshommes Étrangers ... à l’Academie d’Équitation d’Angers’, Revue d’Anjou, xxvi. 20.
  • 5. Clarendon, 52; Handlist of British Diplomatic Representatives comp. G.M. Bell, 34.
  • 6. E.A. Andriette, Devon and Exeter in the Civil War, 80.
  • 7. LC5/134, p. 45; LC3/1.
  • 8. SP16/427/38 ii and v.
  • 9. R. Hopton, Bellum Civile ed. C.E.H. Chadwyck Healey (Som. Rec. Soc. xviii), 18, 31.
  • 10. Buller Pprs. ed. R.N. Worth, 84.
  • 11. PROB 11/122, f. 430; 11/68, ff. 137v-8; G.C. Boase and W.P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, i. 180.
  • 12. Ath. Ox. iii. 44. Wood’s claim that Godolphin also attended the inns of court is unsubstantiated.
  • 13. Clarendon, 51-2; Bell, 34; C142/343/167.
  • 14. Minor Poets of the Caroline Period ed. G. Saintsbury, ii. 232-3, 235; H. Trevor-Roper, Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans, 170, 185.
  • 15. Clarendon, 52-3; M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 27; Buller Pprs. 82, 84; Clarendon, Hist. of the Rebellion ed. W.D. Macray, ii. 457-8; Hopton, 11, 18-19, 28, 31, 33; Vivian, 184.
  • 16. Claims that Godolphin married and had a da. are unproven: M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 188; Vivian, 184.
  • 17. PROB 10/641/123; PROB 11/199, f. 42v; Ath. Ox. iii. 46; CP, v. 407-9; Vis. Som. ed. F.W. Weaver, 6.