Godwin, Francis

, son of the preceding, was born at Havington in Northamptonshire, 1561; and, after a good foundation of grammar-learning, was sent to Christ Church college, Oxford, where he was elected a student in 1678, while his father was dean. He proceeded B. A. in 1580, and M. A. in 1583; about which time he wrote an entertaining piece upon a philosophical subject, where imagination, judgment, and knowledge, keep an equal pace; but this, as it contradicted certain received notions of his times, he never published. It came out about five years after his death, under the title of “The Man in the Moon; or, a discourse of a voyage thither;” by Domingo Gonsales, 1638, 8vo. It has been several times printed, and shews that he had a creative genius. Domingo Gonsales, a little Spaniard, is supposed to be shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, where he taught several ganzas, or wild geese, to fly with a light machine, and to fetch and carry things for his conveniency. He, after some time, | ventured to put himself into the machine, and they carried him with great ease. He happened to be in this aerial chariot at the time of the year when these ganzas, which were birds of passage, took their flight to the moon, and was directly carried to that planet. He has given a very ingenious description of what occurred to him on his way, and the wonderful things which he saw there. Dr. Swift seems to have borrowed several hints from this novel, in his Voyage to Laputa; but it is more to Dr. Godwin’s praise that he appears to have been well acquainted with the Copernican system. He suppressed also another of his inventions at that time, which he called “Nuncius inanimatus,” or the “Inanimate Messenger.” The design was to communicate various methods of conveying intelligence secretly, speedily, and safely; but although he asserts that by an agreement settled between two parties, a message may be conveyed from the one to the other, at the distance of many miles, with an incredible swiftness, yet he does not reveal the secret. It appears, however, to have given rise to bishop Wilkins’s “Mercury, or secret and swift Messenger.” It is said that he afterwards communicated the secret to his majesty, but why it was not acted upon is not mentioned by his biographers. The pamphlet was published in 1629, and afterwards, in 1657, was translated by the learned Dr. Thomas Smith, and published with “The Man in the Moon.

He had probably been sometime master of arts, when he entered into orders, and became in a short time rector of Satnrbrd Orcais, in Somersetshire, a prebendary in the church of Wilts, canon residentiary there, and vicar of Weston in Zoyland, in the same county; he was also collated to the sub-deanery of Exeter, in 1587. In the mean time, turning his studies to the subject of the antiquities of his own country, he became acquainted with Camden; and accompanied him in his travels to Wales, in 1590, in the search of curiosities. He took great delight in these inquiries, in which he spent his leisure hours for several years; but at length he confined himself to ecclesiastical antiquities and history. After some time, finding, with regard to these, that he could add little or nothing to Fox’s work on that subject, he restrained his inquiries to persons; and here he spared no pains, so that he had enough to make a considerable volume in 1594.

He became B. D. in 1593, and D. D. in 1595; in which | year, resigning the vicarage of Weston, he was appointed rector of Bishop’s Liddiard, in the, same county. He still continued assiduous in pursuing ecclesiastical biography; and, having made an handsome addition to his former collections, published the whole in 1601, 4to, tinder the title, “A Catalogue of the Bishops of England, since the first planting of the Christian religion in this island; together with a brief history of their lives and memorable actions, so near as can be gathered of antiquity.” It appears, by the dedication to lord Buckhurst, that our author was at this time chaplain to this nobleman, who, being in high credit with queen Elizabeth, immediately procured him the bishopric of Llandaff. This was said to be a royal reward for his Catalogue, and this success of it encouraged him to proceed. The design was so much approved, that afterwards he found a patron in James I.; and sir John Harrington, a favourite of prince Henry, wrote a treatise by way of supplement to it, for that prince’s use. This was drawn purely for that purpose, without any intention to publish it; but it appeared afterwards with the title of “A brief view of the state of the Church of England.” It is carried on only to the year 1608 (when it was written) from the close of our author’s works. Our author therefore devoted all the time he could spare from the duties of his function towards completing and perfecting this Catalogue; and published another edition in 1615, with great additions and alterations. But, this being very erroneously printed, by reason of his distance from the press, he resolved to turn that misfortune into an advantage and accordingly sent it abroad the year after, in a new elegant Latin dress partly for the use of foreigners, but more perhaps to please the king, to whom it was dedicated, and who in return gave him the bishopric of Hereford, to which he was translated in 1617. His work has since been reprinted, with a continuation to the time of publication, 1743, by Dr. Richardson, in an elegant folio volume, with a fine portrait of Godwin, and other embellishments.

In 1616 he published in Latin, “Rerum Anglicarum Henrico VIII. &c.” which was translated and published by his son, Morgan Godwin, under the title of “Annales of England, containing the reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. and queen Mary,” fol. These, as well as his lives of the bishops, are written in elegant Latin, and with much | impartiality. In 1630, he published a small treatise, entitled “A computation of the value of the Roman Sesterce -and Attic Talent.” After this he fell into a low and languishing disorder, and died in April 1633. He married, when a young man, the daughter of Wollton, bishop of Exeter, by whom he had many children. He appears to have been a man of great learning and personal worth, and a zealous champion for the church of England. His son, Dr. Morgan Godwin, was archdeacon of Shropshire, and translated, as we have noticed, his father’s “Annales.” He was ejected by the parliamentary commissioners, and his family reduced to distress: he died in 1645, leaving a son of his own names, who was educated at Oxford, and afterwards became a minister in Virginia, under the government of sir William Berkeley, but was at last beneficed near London. When he died is not mentioned. He wrote some pamphlets, while in Virginia, on the state of religion there, and the education of the negroes. The late rev. Charles Godwin, an antiquary, and benefactor to Baliol college, Oxford, who died in 1770, appears to have been a son of Charles Godwin, of Mon mouth, another son of bishop Francis Godwin. 1


Gen. Dict. Biog. Brit. Harrington’s Brief View. —Ath. Ox. vol. I.