Charlotte Godley

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Charlotte Godley
Charlotte Godley sketch, 1877.jpg
Sketch of Charlotte Godley (1877)
Born 14 November 1821
Pentrefoelas, Denbighshire, Wales
Died 3 January 1907(1907-01-03) (aged 85)
London, England
Nationality Welsh
Known for Community leader; letter writer
Spouse(s) John Robert Godley
Children Arthur Godley, 1st Baron Kilbracken
Parent(s) Charles Griffith-Wynne (father)
Relatives Charles Finch (grandfather)
A. D. Godley (nephew)
Alexander Godley (nephew)
Charles Wynne (brother)
Frances Elizabeth Wynne (sister)
Hugh Godley, 2nd Baron Kilbracken (grandson)

Charlotte Godley (14 November 1821 – 3 January 1907) was a New Zealand letter-writer and community leader.


She was born as Charlotte Griffith-Wynne in Voelas House (subsequently demolished) in Denbighshire, Wales in 1821.[1] She was the daughter of Charles Griffith-Wynne, MP for Caernarvonshire (1830–1832) and his wife, Sarah Hildyard, the daughter of Rev. Henry Hildyard.[2] Charles Wynne was her brother.[2]

Marriage and New Zealand[edit]

Her marriage to John Robert Godley was registered in Llanrwst, Wales in the late summer of 1846.[3] They had four daughters: Rose (born in New Zealand shortly before they left), Eleanor, Mary, and Margaret; the three younger girls were born in England after 1853.[4] The only son was Sir Arthur Godley, later created Baron Kilbracken.[1]

The Godleys sailed for New Zealand late in 1849, arriving March 1850 on Lady Nugent. Their residence at Lyttelton was a six-room wooden cottage where she hosted visitors including the Rev. Thomas Jackson.[5] They left in late 1852. While in Wellington, Lyttelton, and Ricarton, Mrs. Godley wrote letters home to her mother in Wales, which were published much later (posthumously) as Letters from Early New Zealand.[6] The letters described Māori customs, local fashion, earthquakes, society ways in Dunedin, and details of meals, household management, and the climate.[7]

Later life[edit]

Charlotte Godley was widowed in 1861, and died more than forty years later, in London, age 85. Arthur Godley's daughter Eveline wrote a remembrance of Charlotte Godley, included in the private 1936 edition of her grandmother's letters.[8]


  1. ^ a b Hughes, Beryl. "Charlotte Godley". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 93–94. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  4. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "The Peerage". Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  5. ^ C. E. Carrington, John Robert Godley of Canterbury (Cambridge University Press 1950): 120.
  6. ^ Charlotte Godley, Letters from Early New Zealand, 1850-1853 (Whitcombe & Toombs 1951).
  7. ^ Beryl Hughes, "Godley, Charlotte", from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand updated 30 October 2012.
  8. ^ Eveline C. Godley, "Charlotte Godley: An Impression" in Letters from Early New Zealand (New Zealand Electronic Text Collection).