Godolphin family

Sidney, Earl of Godolphin, Knight of the Garter and Queen Anne's chief minister, is buried in the south aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. On the wall is a bust of him by sculptor Francis Bird and a cartouche with the inscription:

SIDNEY Earl of GODOLPHIN, Lord High Treasurer of Great BRITTAN and Chief minister dureing the first nine glorious years of the reign of Queen Ann he dyed in the year 1712 the 15 day of Sept. aged 67 and was burried near this place to whose memmory this [monument] is offer'd with the utmost gratitude affection and honour by his much obliged daughter in law HENRIETTA GODOLPHIN

He was born on 15th June 1645, the third son of Sir Francis Godolphin and his wife Dorothy (Berkeley). On 16th May 1675 in the Temple Church in London he married Margaret Blagge, maid of honour to Queen Catherine (her father Thomas was buried in the Abbey in November 1660). In 1706 he was created Earl of Godolphin. His son was Francis (1678-1766) who became 2nd Earl of Godolphin. Sidney began his long career at the Court of Charles II as a page and worked in the exchequer and became groom of the bedchamber. His career in politics was long and varied and Queen Anne appointed him Lord High Treasurer in 1702 so he became the most powerful English politician of his day. Later he was instrumental in passing the Act of Union with Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Margaret was buried at Breage in Cornwall on 16th September 1678.

Sir William Godolphin

Sidney's elder brother Sir William Godolphin was also buried in the south aisle of the nave but he has no monument or gravestone. He was created a Baronet, of Godolphin in the county of Cornwall in 1661 but died unmarried so his title became extinct. He was buried on 3rd September 1710.

Charles and Elizabeth Godolphin

The fifth son of Sir Francis was Charles Godolphin, Member of Parliament for Helston and one of the Commissioners of the Customs. He was buried in the west cloister of the Abbey. His wife Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Godolphin of Coulston in Wiltshire, was buried with him and their children Anne (born and died 1688) and William (born and died 1694). The couple founded several charities and a large monument of various coloured marbles and cherub heads was erected in the west cloister.

The inscription reads:

Here rest in hope of a Blessed Resurrection CHARLES GODOLPHIN Esqr. [Esquire] brother to ye Right Honble. SIDNEY Earl of GODOLPHIN Lord HIgh Treasurer of Great Britain, who died July 10th 1720 aged 69 And Mrs GODOLPHIN his wife who died July 29th 1726 aged 63. Whose excellent qualities and endowments can never be forgotten particularly the public spirited zeal with which he served his country in Parliament and the indefatigable application great skill and nice integrity with which he discharged the trust of a Commissioner of the Customes for many years. Nor was she less eminent for her ingenuity witt sincere love of her friends and constancy in religious worship But as charity and benevolence were the distinguishing parts of their characters so were they most conspicuously displayed by the last act of their lives a pious and charitable institution by him designed and ordered and by her compleated to the glory of God and for a bright example to mankind. The Endowment wereof is a rent charge of one hundred and eighty pounds a year issuing out of lands in Somersetshire and of which one hundred and sixty pounds a year are to be for ever applyed from ye 24th of June 1726 to the educating eight young gentlewomen who are so born and whose parents are of the Church of England whose fortunes doe not exceed three hundred pounds and whose parents or friends will undertake to provide them with decent apparell and after the death of the said Mrs GODOLPHIN and WILLIAM GODOLPHIN Esq. her nephew such as have niether father or mother which same young gentlewomen are not to be admitted before they are eight years old nor to be continued after the age of nineteen and are to be brought up at the City of New Sarum or some other town in the county of Wilts. under ye care of some prudent governess or schoole mistress a communicant of ye Church of England and the overplus after an allowance of five pounds a year for collecting the said rent charge is to be applied to ye binding out one or more poor children apprentices whose parents are of the Church of England. In perpetual memory whereof Mrs FRANCES HALL Executrix to her aunt Mrs GODOLPHIN has according to her will and by her order caused this inscription to be engraven on their monument 1727.

The monument has recently been cleaned and restored. The Godolphin School at Salisbury lay a wreath at the monument bi-annually.

Henrietta Godolphin

Henrietta Godolphin, who put up Sidney's monument, is buried near it but she herself has no monument or gravestone. The Abbey burial register gives her titles:

Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, Marchioness of Blandford, Countess of Marlborough, Baroness Churchill of Sandridge, Countess of Godolphin, late consort of the most noble, potent Lord Francis, Earl of Godolphin.

She married Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin. She was the eldest daughter and co-heir of the great John (Churchill), Duke of Marlborough (who was buried briefly in a vault in the Abbey's Lady Chapel from 1722 until 1744 when his remains were removed to Blenheim Palace). Her mother was the well known Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough and she was born on 20th July 1681. Later she succeeded to her father's titles under a special Act of Parliament. Henrietta died on 24th October and was buried on 9th November 1733. In her will she made it clear that her remains should never, under any circumstances, be removed to Blenheim. She was patroness of the poet William Congreve and put up a memorial to him in the nave.

The Abbey registers record another Godolphin burial on 15th March 1679 (New Style dating) but one register says Dorothy and another, kept by the Minor Canon who possibly carried out the service, says Mrs Anne Godolphin. If she was Anne, she could have been the younger sister of Sidney who died of small pox at this time.

Further reading for Sidney, Margaret and son Francis

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for Sidney, Elizabeth and Henrietta

"Life of Mrs Godolphin" by John Evelyn (1847)

"The Godolphin School 1726-1926" edited by M.A. Douglas & C.R. Ash (1928)


Godolphin House at Helston, Cornwall is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public


15th September 1712




Nave; West Cloister

Memorial Type

Grave; bust

Material Type


Godolphin family
Sidney Godolphin monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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