Thomas Godwin (bishop)

Thomas Godwin
Religion Church of England
Born 1517
Wokingham, Berkshire
Died 1590 (aged 73)
Wokingham, Berkshire
Resting place All Saints' Church, Wokingham
Spouse (1) Isabel Purefoy
(2) Margaret Brennan
Senior posting
Based in England
Title Bishop of Bath and Wells
Period in office 1584- 1590
Predecessor Gilbert Berkeley
Successor John Still
Religious career
Previous post Dean of Canterbury (1567- 1584)

Thomas Godwin (1517 – 19 November 1590) was an English bishop, who presided over the Diocese of Bath and Wells.


Thomas Godwin was both born and died in Wokingham in Berkshire. For tuition he entered the household of Richard Layton, then Archdeacon of Buckingham and subsequently Dean of York. Sponsored by Layton, he proceeded to Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1543, gaining a fellowship, and proceeding M.A. in 1547. When Magdalen College established a school at Brackley, Godwin was appointed its first headmaster.

On the accession of the Catholic Queen Mary, Godwin was obliged to leave the school. To support his family he returned to Oxford to study medicine, graduating B.Med. with licence to practice medicine on 17 June 1555. After the accession of Queen Elizabeth he turned to divinity, and after appointment as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, he proceeded B.D. and D.D.

Godwin served as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, 1565–1567 and as Dean of Canterbury 1567–1584. He was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells on 10 August 1584.[1] He was much in favour with the Queen as a preacher.


Godwin was married twice and had eight children:

Godwin was appointed to Wells in 1584 at the age of 67, and was lame with gout. While at Wells he lived a semi-invalid life of which his family and extended family took full advantage, many of them receiving several benefices and amercing themselves in local politics.[3] Thomas Godwin returned home to Berkshire in 1590 and on 19 November 1590 he died. He was buried under the chancel of the parish church of All Saints' Church, Wokingham.[4] On his death his children fought over his personal effects and Blandia was seen smuggling the best linen away. The See of Bath and Wells was also left in a bad situation with mistrust and corruption among its canons.[5]


  1. Cassan, Stephen Hyde (1829). Lives of the Bishops of Bath. pp. 480–490.
  2. "Godwin, Thomas (1517–1590)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  3. Hembry, Phyllis (1967). The Bishops of Bath and Wells. London: The Athlone Press. p. 156.
  4. "Thomas Godwin (1517-1590)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing.
  5. Hembry, Phyllis (1967). The Bishops of Bath and Wells. London: The Athlone Press. p. 182.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Sampson
Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
Succeeded by
Thomas Cooper
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Nicholas Wotton
Dean of Canterbury
Succeeded by
Richard Rogers
Preceded by
Gilbert Berkeley
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Succeeded by
John Still

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