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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Irish

Where did the English Godfrey family come from? What is the English Godfrey family crest and coat of arms? When did the Godfrey family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Godfrey family history?

The history of the name Godfrey begins with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from the baptismal name for the son of Godfrey. Baptismal names were a form of patronymic surnames, and came from either the religious or vernacular given name traditions. In this case, the patronym was adopted from the personal name of the bearers father.

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The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Godfrey has been recorded under many different variations, including Godfrey, Godfry, Godfrie, Godfree, Godfery, Godkin and many more.

First found in Kent. One of the first records of the name was Henricus filius Godefrid who was listed in the Pipe Rolls taken during the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189.) [1] It is generally believed that he was related to William Godefridus of Normandy listed in a census there taken 1180-1198. [2] However, the Godfrey variant had many early references including Godfrey the Bearded (c.?997-1069); and his son, Godfrey IV, Duke of Lower Lorraine (died 1706), known as the Hunchback who was assassinated in Vlaardingen; Godfrey of Bouillon (c. 1060-1100), a medieval Frankish knight, one of the leaders of the First Crusade, Godfrey of Cambrai, the prior of Winchester Abbey from 1082 until his death in 1107; and Godfrey (died 1088), medieval Bishop of Chichester.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Godfrey research. Another 197 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1666, 1273, 1622, 1678, 1648, 1714, 1641, 1797 and are included under the topic Early Godfrey History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Godfrey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Godfrey family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 229 words(16 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Godfrey or a variant listed above:

Godfrey Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Edward Godfrey who settled in Maine in 1630
  • Peter Godfrey, who arrived in New England in 1631
  • Jo Godfrey, aged 21, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • Richard Godfrey who settled in Virginia in 1652
  • Elias Godfrey, who arrived in Maryland in 1662


Godfrey Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Vincent Godfrey, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Mary Godfrey, who arrived in Virginia in 1701
  • Fra Godfrey, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • William Godfrey, who arrived in America in 1765
  • Sarah Godfrey, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773


Godfrey Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Wm Godfrey, who arrived in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1806
  • Thomas Godfrey, who landed in New York, NX in 1815
  • Margaret Godfrey, aged 65, landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Kemp Godfrey, who arrived in New York, NY in 1834
  • Edward Godfrey, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840


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  • Daniel Strong Godfrey (b. 1949), American composer
  • Arthur Morton Godfrey (1903-1983), American Peabody Award winning radio and television broadcaster
  • Thomas Godfrey (1704-1749), American optician and inventor of the octant
  • Brigadier-General Stuart Chapin Godfrey (1886-1945), American Commanding Officer, Aviation Engineering Training Center, Geiger Field, Washington (1945)
  • Sir Dan Godfrey (1868-1939), English conductor
  • Tommy Godfrey (1916-1984), English film and television actor
  • Laurence Paul Godfrey (b. 1976), English Olympic archer
  • Peter Ronald Godfrey (b. 1938), English former professional association football player
  • Bob Godfrey (b. 1921), Australian born, British animation producer/director who won the Academy Award for his musical feature "Great"
  • Richard Timothy Godfrey (1945-2003), British art historian

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Deus et libertas
Motto Translation: God and liberty.

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  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)

Other References

  1. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  2. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  4. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  5. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  6. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  7. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  8. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  11. ...

The Godfrey Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Godfrey Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 23 July 2014 at 07:19.

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