Godfrey, Michael (DNB00)

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GODFREY, MICHAEL (d. 1695), financier, was the eldest son of Michael Godfrey (1624–1689), merchant, of London, and Woodford, Essex, eleventh son of Thomas Godfrey of Hodiford, Kent, by his wife, Anne Mary Chambrelan. His father was brother of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey [q. v.], and foreman of the grand jury who found a true bill against Edward Fitzharris [q. v.] for high treason. The younger Godfrey and his brother Peter were merchants, and their father predicted that their speculations would speedily ‘bring into hotchpott’ the whole of their ample fortunes. Godfrey supported William Paterson in the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694. He was rewarded by being elected the first deputy-governor of the bank. Soon afterwards he published an able pamphlet entitled, ‘A Short Account of the Bank of England,’ which was reissued after his death, and has also been included in both editions of the ‘Somers Tracts.’ On 15 Aug. 1694 Godfrey was chosen one of fifteen persons to prepare bylaws for the new bank (Luttrell, Historical Relation of State Affairs, 1857, iii. 357). At a general court held on 16 May 1695, at which Peter Godfrey was elected a director, the bank resolved to establish a branch at Antwerp, in order to coin money to pay the troops in Flanders. Deputy-governors Sir James Houblon, Sir William Scawen, and Michael Godfrey were therefore appointed to go thither ‘to methodise the same, his majesty and the elector of Bavaria having agreed theretoo’ (ib. iii. 473). On their arrival at Namur, then besieged by William, the king invited them to dinner in his tent. They went out of curiosity into the trenches, where a cannon-ball from the works of the besieged killed Godfrey as he stood near the king, 17 July 1695. ‘Being an eminent merchant,’ writes Luttrell, ‘he is much lamented; this news has abated the actions of the bank 2l. per cent.’ (iii. 503). He was buried near his father in the church of St. Swithin, Walbrook, where his mother erected a tablet to his memory (Stow, Survey, ed. Strype, bk. ii. p. 193). He was a bachelor. A Michael Godfrey was surveyor-accountant of St. Paul's school in 1682–3 (Admission Registers, ed. Gardiner, p. 394).

[Wills of the elder and younger Michael Godfrey registered in P. C. C. 175, Ent, and 130, Irby; Luttrell's Historical Relation of State Affairs, 1857; Francis's Hist. of Bank of England, 3rd ed.; Macaulay's Hist. of England, chaps. xx. xxi.; Will of Peter Godfrey, November 1724, P. C. C. 245, Bolton.]

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