Edward and Sir Edmund Godfrey

On the wall of the east cloister of Westminster Abbey is a memorial to brothers Edward and Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. The shaped marble monument has a sculpted shield, crest and motto at the top, with two sculpted shields of arms on either side, identified with the names:

Margaret Lambard - Thomas Lambard and Sarah Iles

The inscriptions are in Latin and can be translated:

Sacred to the pious memory of Edward Godfrey, who was the 13th son but 15th child of his father, Thomas Godfrey of Hodiford, in Selling, Kent and, of his mother, the 11th son but 13th child, whom first, of her 16 children, his mother took to her breast, and who, though not weaned for upward of 3 years, yet grew to be a boy of the highest promise and ability, with a happy disposition: the first and finest of the fifth class of this school. He died the 8th day of June, year of Salvation 1640, aged 12. The most noble and reverend father in Christ, John [Williams], Lord Bishop of Lincoln, being Dean [of Westminster], Richard Busby being Head Master. Below are listed the dead, while + indicates those elected as King's Scholars"
[On the left side below the Lambard shield is the motto] "Christ both Pelican and Lamb" [and verses]"Lo, children and the fruit of the womb: are an heritage and gift that cometh of the Lord" (Ps[alm] 127).
[On the right side below the Iles shield is the motto] "She is rare as black lilies" and  "Twin sons: a son: Jane: Thomas: Peter: +Richard: +John: +Edmund B=Berry: Elizabeth: Michael: +Thomas: +Edward: Catherine: Benjamin: Sarah".

Edmund Berry Godfrey

On a separate panel below the inscription can be translated:

Edmund Berry Godfrey, raised, for his services to King and Country, to the rank of Knight, having filled the office of Justice with a singular faithfulness and diligence, was snatched at last from the sight of his kinsfolk on 12th Oct. 1678, and found on the fifth day following, having suffered an abominable and hideous death. The rest let History tell. This monument, ravaged by age, was restored, and the epitaph to his brother Edmund added, by Benjamin, youngest son and now the sole survivor of the sons of Thomas Godfrey, 2nd April 1696.

Edmund Berry Godfrey was born 23rd December 1621, a son of Thomas, a Member of Parliament, and his second wife Sarah (Iles or Isles). His second name was taken from his godfather Captain John Berrie. He attended Westminster School, like his brother Edward, and Christ Church college Oxford. Ill health and deafness prevented him from completing his law studies. In 1650 he went into trade as a wood and coal merchant in London. He had a house in Westminster and became a local magistrate and was called the "best justice of the peace in England". In 1666 he was knighted for services in helping "to suppress the late fire in the City". In 1678 he became involved in the Popish Plot scandal. His body was found on Primrose Hill near Hampstead on 17th October with a sword wound and it was popularly said that he was murdered by Catholics. He was buried at St Martin in the Fields church, Westminster. Three men were executed for the murder but later many other theories were put forward.

Edmund's brother Richard was born on 8th April 1619 and was a King's Scholar at Westminster School. In 1647 he was appointed a delegate to the Parliamentary Visitors.He died on 23rd March 1649 and is buried in Christ Church cathedral, Oxford.

John was born on 3rd September 1620 and was also a King's Scholar. He died in Paris on 19th January 1654.

Thomas was born on 13th April 1626, also a Scholar, and died before 1696.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for Edmund.

"The Record of Old Westminsters" edited by G.F. Russell Barker and A.H. Stenning, 1928.

"The strange death of Edmund Godfrey" by Alan Marshall, 1999


Cloisters; East Cloister

Memorial Type


Material Type


Edward and Sir Edmund Godfrey
Edward and Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster