Godwin, Francis.


Godwin, Francis. De præsulibus Angliæ commentarius: omnium episcoporum, necnon et cardinalium eiusdem gentis.

London, [Printed by William Stansby and Eliot’s Court Press,] ex officina Nortoniana, apud Ioannem Billium, 1616, [- 1621].


FIRST EDITION thus.4to. pp. [xvi], 664; 180; 16. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut  printer’s device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, several late C17th century marginal mss. annotations referring to works by Matthew Parker, William Somner, Ussher, William Camden, and John Selden etc., engraved armorial bookplate of Philip, Lord Hardwicke on pastedown, ‘H. N. Leftwich’ purple stamp above, stamped ex-libris below rubbed out. Light age yellowing. A very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary calf expertly laid into a morocco binding circa 1880, covers bordered with gilt and blind rules, large gilt scrolled corner pieces, arms of James I gilt stamped at centres, most of the original spine (except the top panel and tailcap) laid down, compartments bordered with gilt rule, small lozenge tools gilt at centres, a.e.g.

First edition, second issue, a presentation copy with the arms of James I, of this enlarged Latin translation of ‘A catalogue of the bishops of England’, a collection of detailed biographies of the English bishops and a valuable source book of English history. This second issue has an extra 16 page appendix listing Bishops appointed up to November 1621. It is the best known work of Francis Godwin (1562-1633), which so pleased Queen Elizabeth that she made Godwin bishop of Llandaff with immediate effect. The text is important as an Anglican attempt to establish a continuous history of an independent English church from the first arrival of Christianity to the end of the 16th C. Although partisan in purpose it is reasonably even-handed in its treatment of its subjects and is significant in the development of English historical scholarship. Diocese by diocese, a broad survey of the incumbents of the ancient bishoprics and archbishoprics is conducted, covering Canterbury, London, Winchester, Ely, Lincoln, Coventry & Lichfield, Salisbury, Bath & Wells, Exeter, Norwich, Worcester, Hereford, Chichester, Rochester, Oxford, Gloucester, Peterborough, St. Davids, Llandaff, York, Durham, Carlisle and Chester. Proceeding chronologically, where possible the history of appointments are given, along with any highlights of episcopal incumbency and accounts of particular bishops. In instances where nothing but a name survives, it is duly noted. The work comprises a very valuable history of the sees and bishops of England throughout the middle ages, though, prudently, 16th C figures are dealt with much more briefly than earlier appointments. Fisher’s career is noted in five laconic lines and Rioleg’s in only two. Each section concludes with the value of the See, first in the books of the Crown and second of the Papacy

“Godwin’s Catalogue was unevenly researched even by the standards of the day, but it wore well over the next two centuries as a basic reference source. It won its author immediate approbation and was largely responsible for Godwin’s relatively early appointment to the see of Llandaff. The first edition was dedicated to Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, the lord treasurer, to whom Godwin was then chaplain, and who doubtless interceded for his preferment. In 1615 Godwin published a revised edition .., dedicated to the king, with many additions including a discourse on the first conversion of Britain to Christianity. … In this expanded edition the whole work was translated into Latin for the benefit of an international audience, …” (ODNB)

This is a presentation copy from the author as described when it appeared in Maggs cat 1471 no.35 and Quaritch, Bindings in 1889 no 975;“On the fly leaf are the words ‘ex dono Authoris’, which is not in King James’ hand and show the book s not the dedication copy .. The book-plate of Philip, the first Lord Hardwicke, is pasted inside the cover.” When this copy appeared for resale in 1906 at Sothebys there is no mention of the ‘Ex dono’ which must have been removed. The use of the royal arms on the binding may be a sign of royal authorisation rather than ownership. There is at least one other copy in a binding with the royal arms (at Lambeth Palace) and one presentation copy of the first issue to William Camden, inscribed “Gulielmi Camden ex dono authoris, martii 23,15 [1616]” at Bodley (MS Wood D 21).

ESTC. S103175. STC 11942. Lowndes III 905.
Stock Number: L3181 Categories: , ,