Show ContentsGodsill History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Godsill is a name whose history is entwined with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It was a name for a person who was "gode," meaning "good," along with "saule, or soule," meaning "soul" in other words "an honest fellow." [1]

Alternatively, the name could have been a local name from "Gadshill (Kent), Godshill (Isle of Wight), Godshill (Hants) or Godsell Fm (Wiltshire), all originally Godeshyll ‘god’s hill’" [1]

Another source postulates the name is "perhaps from Godshill, in the Isle of Wight or the same as Godesilus, the name of an early Burgundian King." [2] Pursuing the Godesilus connection, one source notes that "Godescalus, [was] a mesne lord in Wiltshire in 1086." This latter source is obviously eluding to an entry appearing in the Domesday Book. [3] [4]

Early Origins of the Godsill family

The surname Godsill was first found in Norfolk where William God saule was listed in the Feet of Fines for 1197. Ralph Godsouls was found in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1219 and later, Hugh de Godeshill was listed in the Assize Rolls for Somerset in 1225. The Pipe Rolls for Hampshire list Hugh de Godeshull in 1230 and later again, we found Thomas de Godeshell in Devon in 1309. The Subsidy Rolls for Sussex list Richard Godeshull in 1327. [1] Ralph Godsale, taillour was found in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [5]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 point to the widespread use of the name with a variety of spellings: Amice and Cecilla Godsol in Cambridgeshire; Augustin Godsouele in Huntingdonshire; and Radulphus Godsale in Norfolk. [5]

"Godsell, a name now rare in the county, but represented by the Godsalls and Godsells of the neighbourhood of the city of Hereford, was an established name in Kingswood (co. Gloucester) during the 17th and 18th centuries, where a family of clothiers thus called resided." [6]

Early History of the Godsill family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Godsill research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1505, 1542, 1546, 1556 and 1568 are included under the topic Early Godsill History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Godsill Spelling Variations

Before the last few hundred years, the English language had no fast system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations are commonly found in early Anglo-Saxon surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Godsill were recorded, including Godsell, Godsall, Goldsalde, Godseel, Godsel, Godsalve and many more.

Early Notables of the Godsill family

Notables of the family at this time include Sir John Godsalve (b. circa 1505- d. 1556), Clerk of the Signet, and Comptroller of the Mint, was the son and heir of Thomas Godsalve (d. 1542), registrar of the consistory court at Norwich and an owner of landed property in Norfolk. Edward...
Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Godsill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Godsill family to Ireland

Some of the Godsill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Godsill family

To escape oppression and starvation at that time, many English families left for the "open frontiers" of the New World with all its perceived opportunities. In droves people migrated to the many British colonies, those in North America in particular, paying high rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Although many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, those who did see the shores of North America perceived great opportunities before them. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Godsill family emigrate to North America: Michael Godsil settled in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, in 1816; William Godsell settled in Tilting in 1818; Thomas Godsell settled in Harbour Grace from County Cork in 1831.



  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. 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)
  5. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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