Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/42
[Baker's Biographia Dramatica (Reed and Jones), i. 279–80, iii. 180; Appleton's Cyclopæd. of Amer. Biog. ii. 669.]
he died near Wilmington on 3 Aug. 1763. Besides contributing verses to the ‘American Magazine,’ a Philadelphian periodical, Godfrey published in 1763 ‘The Court of Fancy,’ a poem modelled in part on the pseudo-Chaucer's ‘House of Fame.’ A volume of his poems, with a biographical sketch by his friend Nathaniel Evans, appeared in 1767.
GODHAM, ADAM (d. 1358). [See Goddam.]
GODIVA or GODGIFU (fl. 1040–1080), benefactress, was sister to Thorold of Bucknall, sheriff of Lincolnshire. Her name is presented in seventeen different forms; Godgife is in the Stow charter, Godiva in the Spalding charter (both printed by Kemble, but probably spurious); the Domesday spelling is Godeva. Freeman gives Godgifu. Some time before 1040 she married Leofric, earl of Chester [q. v.] In the ‘Liber Eliensis’ (end of twelfth century) there is mention of a Godiva, widow of an earl, ‘regnante Canuto’ (1017–1035). She, in prospect of death, wrote to Ælfric the bishop (of Elmham and Dunwich, 1028–32), and Leofric the abbot (of Ely, 1022–29), giving to Ely monastery the estate of Berchinges (Barking, Suffolk), which was hers ‘parentum hæreditate.’ By will she added to the gift the lands of Æstre or Plassiz (High Easter, Good Easter, and Pleshey, Suffolk), Fanbrege (North and South Fambridge, Essex) and Terlinges (Terling, Essex). If this was our Godiva, it would follow that she recovered from her illness of 1028–9, and that her union with Earl Leofric was a second marriage. In the Spalding charter, as in the Domesday survey, she bears the title ‘comitissa;’ it does not appear that the title of ‘lady’ belonged to her degree in the usage of her time; in the Stow charter she is simply ‘ðæs eorles ƿif.’ She is described as a person of great beauty and a devoted lover of the Virgin Mary. About 1040 she interested herself in the erection of the monastery at Stow, Lincolnshire, and made considerable benefactions to it, both jointly with her husband and on her own part.
At Coventry, Warwickshire, which was a ‘villa’ belonging to her husband, there had been a convent, of which St. Osburg was abbess; it was burned when Eadric [see Edric or Eadric Streona] ravaged the district in 1016. Godiva induced her husband to found here, in 1043, a Benedictine monastery for an abbot and twenty-four monks. The church was dedicated to St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Osburg, and All Saints on 4 Oct. by Eadsige [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury. Besides joining her husband in rich gifts of land, including a moiety of Coventry, Godiva from time to time made the church of this monastery resplendent with gold and gems to a degree unequalled in England at that date. William of Malmesbury says that the very walls seemed too narrow for the receptacles of treasures. It abounded also in relics, the most precious being the arm of St. Augustine of Hippo, enclosed in a silver case, bearing an inscription to the effect that Ethelnoth [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, had bought it at Pavia for a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Unless the inception of the Coventry monastery was much earlier than the dedication of the church, this relic cannot have been given to Coventry by Ethelnoth (d. 1038); it may have been given by Eadsige. In 1051 Godiva's mark is appended to the charter of her brother Thorold, founding the Benedictine monastery at Spalding, Lincolnshire, with the words: ‘+ Ego Godiva Comitissa diu istud desideravi.’ She is commemorated also as a benefactress to the monasteries of Leominster, Herefordshire, Wenlock, Shropshire, St. Werburg, Chester, Worcester, and Evesham, Worcestershire. Leofric, at her instigation, granted to monasteries sundry lands which had been alienated from church uses. A petition from Godiva to Pope Victor (1055–7) is given by Kemble, who marks it doubtful, and assigns it to 1060–6.Her fame as a religious foundress has been eclipsed by the story of her Coventry ride, around which legend has freely grown. Objection has been taken to the whole story on the ground that in Godiva's time there was no ‘city’ of Coventry. The simplest and apparently the oldest form of the narrative is given by Roger of Wendover, whose ‘Flores’ come down to within two years of his death (6 May 1237), but who is dependent up to 1154 (or perhaps 1188) on the work of an unknown earlier writer. Roger represents Godiva as begging the release of the ‘villa’ of Coventry from a heavy bondage of toll. Leofric replied, ‘Mount your horse naked, and pass through the market of the villa, from one end to the other, when the people are assembled, and on your return you shall obtain what you ask.’ Accordingly Godiva, attended by two soldiers, rode through the market-place, her long hair down, so that no one saw her, ‘apparentibus cruribus tamen candidissimis.’ Leofric, struck with admiration, granted the release by charter. The chronicle ascribed to John Brompton [q. v.] of the late fourteenth century gives a briefer account, omits the escort and the market, and asserts without qualification that no one saw