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Goodman, Godfrey


Protestant bishop of Gloucester, only bishop of an English see since the Reformation reputed to have died in the Roman Catholic Church; b. Ruthin, Denbighshire, March 10, 1583; d. Westminster, Jan. 19, 1656. He was born of wealthy parents, Godfrey Goodman and his second wife, Jane Cruxton, and was educated at Westminster School (159299), under the care of his uncle Gabriel, who was dean. Godfrey took the B.A. (1604) and M.A. (1607) degrees at Trinity College, Cambridge. From 1606 to 1620 he was rector of a country parish at Staple-ford Abbots in Essex. He held a number of livings in Berkshire, Gloucester, and Wales. An excellent preacher, writer, and stylistic disciple of Lancelot Andrewes, Goodman first achieved notice at court with the publication of The Fall of Man (1616). Appointed a canon of Windsor in 1617, he quickly rose in preferments to dean of Rochester (1621), then bishop of Gloucester (1625). His appointment to the bishopric through the influence of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, rather than by the nomination of William laud, then bishop of St. David's, later archbishop of Canterbury, earned him Laud's lifelong enmity. A sermon Goodman delivered before the King in 1626 "pressed so hard upon the point of the Real Presence, that he was supposed to trench too near the borders of Popery" (Peter Heylin, Cyprianus Anglicus ). Although censured in convocation by Laud for the sermon, Goodman continued in good standing in the House of Lords. In 1628, the Puritan element in Commons (William Prynne, Henry Burton, and John Bastwick) petitioned against his Romanism. Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, undoubtedly referred chiefly to Goodman in his speech against bishops in the Long Parliament some years later, when he spoke of some who have "found a way to reconcile the opinions of Rome to the preferments of England, and to be so absolutely, directly, and cordially Papist, that it is all £1,500 a year can do to keep them from confessing it." Only in his will did Goodman openly confess his spiritual allegiance to Rome.

The date of his conversion is not known, although it is thought to be as early as 1636, through his longtime friend the Jesuit William Claybrooke (alias Hanmer). In that same year, Gregorio panzani, papal emissary to England, noted Goodman's great desire for reunion with the Church of Rome. In convocation in 1640, Goodman refused to sign, or accept, canons requiring greater efforts in the detection and punishment of Catholics. He was deprived of his see by Laud, and committed to the Gate-House, where he was kept until he subscribed to the canons three months later. Ironically, Goodman was then impeached, committed to the Tower, and fined £2,000 by the House of Commons for his share in framing the same canons, which was considered an illegal infringement on Parliamentary rights. Goodman joined in the protest of the bishops in the House of Lords in December 1641, and was again committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason. While he was imprisoned, his property at Gloucester was plundered, and he was ejected from his canonry and bishopric. On regaining his freedom, Goodman retired to the home of a Catholic, Mrs. Silbylla Agliomby, at Westminster, where he died, attended by his friend and confessor, the Franciscan Christopher Davenport. Though wanting in moral courage, Goodman was noted for kindliness, tolerance, and great charity. A noted historian, he wrote The Court of King James the First, which is still of considerable historical value.

Bibliography: g. goodman, The Court of King James the First, ed. j. s. brewer, 2 v. (London 1839). g. i. soden, Godfrey Goodman, Bishop of Glouster, 15831656 (London 1953), bibliog. s. lee, The Dictionary of National Biography From the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900), 8:131134. j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time (London and New York, 18851902), 2:528530, some errors.

[j. o. hanlon]

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