Godolphin: His Life and Times

Godolphin: His Life and Times

Godolphin: His Life and Times

Godolphin: His Life and Times

Excerpt

More than sixty years have elapsed since the publication in 1888 of Hugh Elliot's brief sketch on Godolphin. In those days very little material was available for such a life, and Elliot was forced to admit in his preface that "no biography of Lord Godolphin can be really complete till much material which is at present entombed in family archives is rendered accessible to the author", and of the material which was available to him he stated frankly that "some is new, most of it is old, and all of it is dispersed". In the last half- century, a great mass of letters unknown to Elliot have come to light, some in private and public archives, many in the various publications of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. But even now a good deal is lacking that could shed light on certain aspects of Godolphin's career. How satisfying it would be to have been able to give a fuller demonstration of Godolphin's financial genius and to discuss in detail his relations with Montagu! I would also like to have been in a position to reveal more about his management of the Treasury and his attitude to such questions as party patronage in administrative appointments. Unfortunately, absence of material makes impossible at present any detailed exposition of these aspects of Lord Godolphin's life and work. Nevertheless, in spite of some gaps, the abundance of manuscripts now available renders long overdue a full-length biography of Queen Anne's great Lord Treasurer.

Of those who have made the writing of this biography possible, I must first thank the Duke of Marlborough who gave me free access to his muniment room at Blenheim Palace. This put me in the advantageous position of being able to study the Godolphin--Marlborough correspondence between the years 1702 and 1710 in the originals, instead of relying on the not too accurate Coxe transcripts in the British Museum. To the Marquess of Bath I am indebted for the access he so generously afforded me to his muniments at Longleat; and at the same time I would like to thank Lord Bath's librarian, Miss Dorothy Coates, for her welcome assistance whilst I was working amid the congenial surroundings of Bishop Ken's Library. The Countess of Seafield was so courteous as to send me on loan from the charter room at Cullen House a number of Lord Godolphin's letters to her ancestor, Lord Seafield, the Scottish Chancellor at the time of the Union; Mr. John Evelyn kindly allowed me to examine the Evelyn Papers from Wotton; and the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was good enough to institute a search for some Godolphin family papers preserved in the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro. To Lady Seafield, Mr. Evelyn and Lord Mount Edgcumbe my thanks are due.

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