Edward Godfrey (politician)

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Edward Godfrey
1st Governor Province of Maine
In office
Preceded by Sir Ferdinando Gorges
Succeeded by Thomas Danforth
Personal details
Born about 1584
Wilmington, England
Died after 1663
Ludgate, London, England
Spouse(s) Ann Merjant Godfrey
Children Oliver,
Mary Smith,
Profession merchant, politician

Edward Godfrey (about 1584 – after 1663) was the first governor of the Province of Maine.


Godfrey was born about 1584, the son of Oliver and Elizabeth Godfrey, and he lived in Wilmington on the high road from London to Dover. He married Ann Merjant and they had Oliver, Mary Smith, Sarah, Oliver, and Charles.


About 1619 he was a member of a group of merchants who loaned the Pilgrims on the Mayflower eighteen hundred pounds. He emigrated to colonial America about 1628 or 1629. While at Piscataqua (now Portsmouth, New Hampshire), in care of the fishery and fishing fleet, he was appointed on November 27, 1629, Attorney of the President and Council to take possession and deliver to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason the patented grant of Laconia. First settled as early as 1623, the southern part of Kittery was once called Champernowne's after Sir Francis Champernowne, a prominent pioneer and landowner. Nicholas Shapleigh built the first house in the area, and Edward Godfrey established a trading post in 1632.[1]

In 1634, he was chosen as one of the referees to divide the patents of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. William Gorges, designated Governor, had Godfrey as one of his councilors.

Godfrey visited England during 1637 and 1638, during which he made a successful plea during the Quo Warranto trial against surrendering the Massachusetts charter. He returned with the charters for the general territory and those for the creation of Agamenticus into a municipal corporation and metropolitan of the province. In general government he was named one of the councilor and first on the list of eight aldermen for the borough, and judge of the municipal court. Under the city charter, he became mayor of Georgeana.[2]

In July 1649, he became the first governor of the province of Maine, and was reelected for three successive terms.

In December 1651, the charter of Massachusetts, which had been defended by Godfrey when her own representatives could not during the trial of the Quo warranto writ, was interpreted to claim the heritage of Sir Ferdinando Gorges and force was used. As Governor, Godfrey drew up a letter to the English Parliament asking for protection. The town was taken by force and the citizens accepted Massachusetts, and Godfrey did so, with mental reservations, after the vote was taken.[3]

The authorities of Massachusetts appointed him councilor of the province, but his enemies shared and divided his estate. He sailed to England to place his grievances before the courts. Living on borrowed money for years, he ended in the debtor’s prison, Ludgate,London, England.[4]


It is unknown when Godfrey died; he was buried in a pauper's unmarked grave. The last known letter from him was dated April 1663.


  1. ^ "Edward Godfrey". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Edward Godfrey". The Trail of the Maine Pioneer. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Edward Godfrey". The Maine State Museum. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Edward Godfrey. Edward Godfrey: His Life, Letters, and Public Services, 1584-1664. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
new office
Title next held by
Thomas Danforth