The Godfrey Arms as noted in:
"Fairbairns Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland".
It is believed the oldest verifiable Coat of Arms for a Godfrey individual lived in Kent County, England, most likely Lydd, and was awarded these arms by the 15th century, and most likely earlier. Later generations augmented the arms as described below, by the marriage into the Pix and Strughill families.
"Arms-Sa. a chev. betw three pelican's heads, erased and vulning themselves or." The meaning of the pelicans "vulning" themselves was an act of piety, they would sacrifice their own blood to feed the young who would live for God. "Sa." is an abbreviation for Sable or Black, "chev." is an abbreviation for Chevron, "or." is an abbreviation for Gold. Hence, the Chevron is black and the shield is gold.
"Crest-A demi negro ppr. holding in the dexter hand a cross crosslet, fitchee, ar." The demi negro depicts servitude to God, the cross crosslet fitchee is a militant Protestant symbol. "Ar." is an abbreviation for silver.
1st Az. a fesse, betw. three cross crosslets, fitchee, or, for Pix.2nd Ar. a fesse betw. six escallops gu. for Strughill. 3rd. Quarterly, 1st and 4th per chev. sa. and ar. three griffin's heads, erased, counter charged; 2nd. and 3rd. ar. on a chief betw. three greyhounds' heads, erased, sa. collared or. as many plates, both for Toke; the latter a coat of augmentation."
"Az" = Blue, "Or." = Gold, "Ar." = Silver, "Gu." = Red, "Per." = Purple, and "Sa." = Sable (black).
The notation that accompanied this Coat of Arms reads:
"Pix and Strughill are family names. Thomas Godfrey, DOB 1547 had a second wife named Elizabeth Pix, daughter and heir of Michael Pix of Folkstone by Emma, only daughter and heir of Richard Strughill. These arms must go back at least to the 1400's". The Godfrey name means "God-like".
The history of the ancient Anglo-Saxon surname of Godfrey reaches far back into the time of the Saxon people. The Saxon Chronicle, compiled by monks in the 10th century now resides in the British Museum.
Researchers have examined reproductions of such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (1086), the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296), the Curia Regis Rolls, the Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other documents. They found the first record of the name Godfrey in Kent where they were seated from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066.
Throughout the centuries the name, Godfrey, has been found in many records but not always with the same spelling. The spellings include Godfrey, Godfry, Godfrie, Godfree, and Godfery. The variations in spelling even existed between father and son. Scribes and church officials frequently spelled names phonetically; as a result, the same person could have been recorded differently on birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates, as well as other records recording life's events.
The Saxon people gave birth to many English surnames, not the least of which was Godfrey. The Saxons came to England in the time of the ancient Britons in the 4th century. A fair skinned people their home was the Rhine valley, some as far northeast as Denmark. They were led by two brothers, General / Commanders Hengist and Horsa. The Saxons settled in the county of Kent, on the southeast coast of England. Gradually, they spread north and westward, and during the next four hundred years forced the ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall in the west, and Cumberland to the north. The Angles occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in Suffolk, and the north folk in Norfolk. Under Saxon rule England prospered under a series of High Kings, the last of which was Harold.
In 1066, the Normans invaded from France and were victorious at the Battle of Hastings. In 1070, Duke William took an army of 40,000 north and wasted the northern counties, forcing many rebellioues Norman nobles and Saxons to flee over the border into Scotland. Meanwhile, the Saxons who remained in the south were not treated well under harsh Norman rule, and they also move northward to the midlands Lancashire and Yorkshire away from the Norman oppression.
Nevertheless, the name Godfrey emerged as an influential name in the County of Kent where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Hurst with manor and estates in that shire. This distinguished Saxon family was descended from Godfrey the Fauconer who was Lord of the manor of Hurst from ancient times. They branched to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and to Romney, Heppington, Lydd, Hodiford, Norton Court, and Dartford in that shire, as well as establishing branches in Bedfordshire, Cornwall, and Jersey. Sir Edmondsbury Godfrey was scion of the family and was the most notable amongst the family at this time.
The surname Godfrey flourished during the turbulent Middle Ages contributing greatly to the cultural development of England. During the next four hundred years England was ravished by plagues, famine and religious conflict. Protestantism, the newly found political fervor of Cromwellianism and democratic government, and the remnants of the Roman church, rejected all non-believers, each jealously claiming adherents to their own cause. The changing rule caused burnings, hangings and banishments of all sects and creeds, first one then another. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland or to the colonies. Some were rewarded with grants of land, some were simply banished.
Some families were forced to migrate to Ireland where they became known as the Adventurers for Land in Ireland. Protestant settlers undertook to keep their faith being granted land that had previously owned by Irish Catholics. In Ireland their name became interchangeable with the Maguires of Fermanagh.
The New World offered better opportunities and some migrated voluntarily and some were banished, mainly for religios reasons. Some left Ireland disillusioned with the promises that had gone unfulfilled, but many left directly from England, leaving their home territories. Some also settled on the European continent.
Members of the Godfrey family sailed aboard the huge armada of three masted sailing ships known as the White Sails which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships such as the Hector, the Dove and the Rambler, were pestilence ridden, sometimes with 30 to 40 percent of the passngers never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by dysentery, cholera, smallpox, and typhoid.
Amongst the first settlers in the New World of the Godfrey family was Edward Godfrey who settled in Maine in 1630; Hugh Godfrey settled in Barbados in 1663; Richard Godfrey settled in Virginia in 1652; Andrew Godfrey settled in Barbados in 1678; Denis, Edward, George, James, John, Joseph, Michael, Peter, Sarah, Steven, and William Godfrey all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
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