1902 Encyclopedia > Francis Godwin

Francis Godwin
English divine, Bishop of Llandaff and of Hereford

FRANCIS GODWIN (1561-1633), son of Dr Godwin, bishop of Bath and Wells, was born at Havington in North amptonshire in 1561. He was elected student of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1578, took his bachelor's degree in 1580, and that of master in 1583. Entering holy orders, he became successively rector of Sampford-Orcais in Somerset-shire, and vicar of Weston-in-Zoyland in the same county. In 1587 he was appointed subdean of Exeter. Having turned his attention to the subject of British antiquities, he became acquainted with Camden, whom in 1590 he accom-panied in a journey through Wales. He was created bachelor of divinity in 1593, and doctor in 1595. In 1601 he pub-lished his Catalogue of the Bishops of England since the first planting of the Christian Religion in this Island, a work which procured him in the same year the bishopric of Llandaff from Elizabeth. A second edition appeared in 1615, and in 1616 he published an edition in Latin with a dedication to King James, who in the following year con-ferred upon him the bishopric of Hereford. The work was republished, with a continuation by Dr Richardson, in 1743. In 1616 Godwin published Rerum Anglicarum, Henrico VIII, Edwardo VI, el Maria regnantibus, Annales, which was afterwards translated and published by his son under the title Annales of England, 1630. The last of his works pub-lished before his death, which took place in 1633, was Com-putation of the value of the Roman Sesterce and Attic Talent, which appeared in 1630. He is also the author of a some-what remarkable story, published posthumously in 1638, and entitled The Man in the Moon, or a Biscourse of a Voyage thither, by Domingo Gonsales, written apparently sometime between the years 1599 and 1603. In this pro-duction Godwin not only declares himself a believer in the Copernican system, but adopts so far the principles of the law of gravitation by supposing that the earth's attraction diminishes with the distance. The work, which displays considerable fancy and wit, was translated into French, and was imitated in several important particulars by Cyrano de Bergerac, from whom Swift obtained valuable hints in writing his voyage to Laputa. Another work of Godwin's, Nuncius Jnanimatus in Utopia, originally published in 1629, but subsequently suppressed, seems to have been the proto-type of Wilkins's Mercury, or Secret and Swift Messenger, which appeared in 1641. Godwin's pamphlet was again published in 1657.

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