Godwin, George Nelson (DNB12)

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GODWIN, GEORGE NELSON (1846–1907), Hampshire antiquary, only surviving son of Edward Godwin, a draper of Winchester, and afterwards a farmer of Melksham, by his wife Mary Tugwell, was born at Winchester on 4 July 1846. With an only sister, Sarah Louisa, he was brought up at Winchester, and was educated there at a private school. After engaging in private tuition, and qualifying in 1868 at the London College of Divinity, he was ordained deacon in 1869 and priest in 1870. He subsequently proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained the Cluff memorial prize in 1882, and graduated B.A. in 1884 and B.D. in 1887. After filling curacies at Heanor (1869–72), East Bergholt (1873–6), and Capel St. Mary (1876–7), he was appointed chaplain of the forces in 1877, and continued in the army until 1890, serving at Malta, Cairo, Dublin, the Curragh, and Netley Hospital. From 1890 to 1893 he was vicar of East Boldre, and after holding other parochial appointments, became curate in charge of Stokesby, Great Yarmouth, in 1904.

Godwin was best known as an antiquary and local historian. He was one of the founders of the Hampshire Field Club and Archæological Society, and was a leading authority on the history of Hampshire and neighbouring counties. His 'Civil War in Hampshire, 1642-45, and the Story of Basing House' (1882; new edit. 1904) embodies exhaustive researches into original authorities. He also wrote, amongst other topographical works, 'The Green Lanes of Hampshire, Surrey, and Sussex' (1882), and (with H. M. Gilbert) 'Bibliotheca Hantoniensis' (1891). He was editor of 'Hampshire Notes and Queries' 1896–9. His special knowledge was freely placed at the service of antiquarian and scientific societies. He died suddenly of heart failure while staying for the night at an inn in Little Walsingham on 10 Jan. 1907, and was buried in the churchyard of that village. Godwin was twice married: (1) on 13 Feb. 1870 to Mary Godwin (of a different family), by whom he had one daughter; (2) on 8 Aug. 1899 to Rose Elizabeth, daughter of George Jay of Camden Town, who survived him without issue.

In addition to the works mentioned, Godwin published: 1. 'A Guide to the Maltese Islands,' 1880. 2. 'Materials for English Church History, 1625-49,' 1895. He left unpublished 'French Prisoners of War at Rye and Winchester.'

[Hampshire Observer and Hampshire Chronicle, 19 Jan. 1907; Crockford's Clerical Directory; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

C. W.