Godfrey Goodman

Godfrey Goodman, also called Hugh; (28 February 1582 or 1583 – 19 January 1656) was the Anglican Bishop of Gloucester, and a member of the Protestant Church. He was the son of Godfrey Goodman (senior) and Jane Croxton, landed gentry living in Wales. His contemporaries describe him as being a hospitable, quiet man, and lavish in his charity to the poor.

Education and career

Goodman was born in Ruthin, Denbighshire. From 1593, Goodman was originally educated at Ruthin School but was later sent to Westminster School, where he remained seven years under the protection of his uncle, Gabriel Goodman, Dean of Westminster. He was an earnest student and when only seventeen won a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge. He graduated there in 1604 and shortly after was ordained at Bangor, Wales.[1]

Goodman's first appointment was to the rectory of Stapleford Abbotts, Essex, in 1606. He made rapid progress in the Church, and was made successively prebend of Westminster in 1607; Rector of West Isley, Berkshire, in 1616; Rector of Kinnerton, Gloucester; Canon of Windsor and prebendary of Hatherton, Staffordshire in St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton[2] in 1617; Dean of Rochester in 1621; and finally Bishop of Gloucester, 1624-1655. In addition, he held two livings in Wales, at Llandyssil and Llanarmon. Even as a bishop, he was allowed to retain most of these appointments.

Involvement with Catholicism

Goodman became one of the Court preachers and was chaplain to Queen Anne, wife of James I. His leaning towards Roman Catholicism made enemies for him at Windsor, and he was reprimanded by the King over Court sermons. A few years later, he was severely reprimanded for having erected a crucifix at Windsor and using altar-cloths with a cross design in his own cathedral at Gloucester, and further for having suspended a minister who insisted on preaching "that all who die papists go inevitably to hell".

It is likely that doubts were arising in his mind about the legitimacy of the Church's separation from Rome, and he sought the society of Catholic priests who were in hiding throughout the country. He was frequently at variance with Archbishop Laud, and in 1640 refused on conscientious grounds to sign the seventeen Articles drawn up by the Archbishop. He was thereupon arrested, but after five weeks in prison he overcame his scruples and signed the Articles. This, however, availed him little, as he was soon impeached by Parliament along with Laud and the ten other signatories of the Articles and was sent to prison for treason in the Tower of London for four months.

In 1643, Goodman's episcopal palace was pillaged by parliamentarian soldiers and over the course of a couple of years he was stripped of all his emoluments. He withdrew from public life to his small Welsh estate in Carnarvon, and it is likely that he converted to Catholicism at this time.

In about 1650, he came to London, and gave himself up to study and research; he was befriended by some Catholic royalists and lived in close connection with them until his death in 1656. Father Davenport, O.S.F., former chaplain to Queen Henrietta, was his confessor and attended him in his last illness. He died, aged 62 or 63, at Westminster. By his will, in which he made a profession of his Catholic faith, he left most of his property to Ruthin, his native town; his manuscripts and books, however, were given to Trinity College, Cambridge.

Principal works



  1. "Goodman, Godfrey (GDMN600G)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. William Salt Archaeological Society, ed. (1915). Collections for a History of Staffordshire. 1915 Yearbook. London: Harrison. p. 330. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Miles Smith
Bishop of Gloucester
Succeeded by
vacancy to 1660
William Nicholson
Preceded by
William Juxon
Bishop of Hereford
declined election

Succeeded by
Augustin Lindsell
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