The Revd George F Goddard (1817-1893)
A Nineteenth Century Clerical Gentleman, (Vicar of Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill 1849-55)

published by GAE, May 2002

The ministry of the Church of England has been hitherto and is at this time, filled by gentlemen…who have had a gentle education, who have come often of the highest blood in the land and who have entered the Church with all that distinctive formation of character which comes from such an education and such an inheritance…Ashwell & Wilberforce (1881)

George Frederick Goddard was born in 1817 at Hitcham in Buckinghamshire and died 76 years later in post, as Rector of St Nicholas' at Southfleet in Kent. The first son of Charles and Isabella he had three elder sisters, six younger sisters and one younger brother. Charles was born in 1770 and until his early forties was attached to the civil service as 'collector and transmitter of state papers' in the Foreign Department of the Secretary of State's Office. He 'bore arms' (i.e. he had a coat of arms) and in 1814 took Holy Orders aged 44. George certainly had the right 'inheritance' to fit Ashwell and Wilberforce's description of a typical nineteenth century minister. We know nothing of his education until he went to Oxford in 1835. However, I think we can be fairly certain that his 'gentle education' will have involved a private tutor at home.

Throughout his childhood George will have experienced what has become known as 'rectory culture'. It is not easy to trace his father's career as The clergy list did not appear until 1841 and Crockford's Clerical directory until the 1850s. The holding of posts in plurality also complicates matters. After Charles took Holy Orders he was made a prebendary in Lincoln. George and three of his sisters were Christened at Hitcham between 1813 and 1819 and so we may surmise his father had a post there at that time. From 1817 until 1844 he served as Archdeacon of Lincoln and from 1821 until 1836 as Rector of St James', Garlick Hythe, London. Four of George's younger sisters were Christened at Garlick Hythe. In 1822 the Rector of Garlick Hythe (Upper Gower Street) preached in St Paul's Cathedral with 1Timothy 6:20-21 as his text:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.

Charles and Isabella's youngest children, twins, were Christened in Kew (Surrey) in 1828, which at that time was part of the diocese of Winchester. He also crops up as Rector of Bexley in Kent in 1829! On resigning from Garlick Hythe in 1836 he was introduced to the parishes of Ibstock cum Hugglescote and Donnington in Leicestershire (Linoln diocese). We have mentioned that from 1817 he had served as Archdeacon in that diocese. In 1844, for the last year of his life, he was made Sub-dean of Lincoln. From 1827 until the end of his life he was also chaplain to George Murray, Bishop of Rochester. Charles also served as a chaplain in ordinary to George IV and Queen Victoria (and presumably William IV in between). At 18, steeped in church matters, George went up to Oriel College, Oxford a staunch Tory and a traditional '39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer' churchman.

The 1830s was an exciting time for someone with such a background to be a student at Oxford. 1833 saw the first Tract for the times, written by Newman. George would have read it and probably have attended sermons by the Tractarians. These will certainly have given him much to think about but he seems to have remembered the text his father had used in 1822 (1 Timothy 6). He may have heard profane and vain babblings from the like of Hampden, Regius Professor of Divinity, but this did not change radically his churchmanship. He kept that which was committed to his trust. I don't suggest George attended his father's sermon, at the age of five, but I would be surprised if he did not have a copy in his library.

In the 1830s a university degree (and this usually meant one from Oxford or Cambridge) was sufficient for Holy Orders. The ordaining bishops, through their Examining Chaplains, were also required to satisfy themselves that candidates were 'learned in the Latin tongue and sufficiently instructed in the scriptures'. George was not found wanting and in 1840 left Oxford to take up a curacy, under his father, at Ibstock cum Hugglescote. The same year, at the age of 23, he married Sophia, a young lady four years his senior. In 1843 his University published a translation of Latin Divinity Lectures delivered and published in 1753. It was provided by a curate, from 'Hugglescote (Ashby-de-la-Zouch)'. He wrote in his Preface, addressed to the Revd President Magdalen College: I appreciated the kindness I experienced, while a Demy in your distinguished college. He goes on to say of Potter's lectures: They were eminently serviceable in my own case, when I was preparing for Orders. George then thanked his father for help with the footnotes. Charles died in 1845 and the year after his son moved to his second curacy at St James', Piccadilly; sometimes known as Archbishop Tenison's Chapel. He was described as 'curate and lecturer'.

Two years later, in 1848, George moved to his first incumbency as vicar of St. Andrew's at Isleham in Cambridgeshire (and the diocese of Ely). It is interesting to note that the parish was granted by King Alfred, in Saxon times, to the Bishop of Rochester. Bishop Murray had given the living to his chaplain's son. However he did not stay at St. Andrew's for long and in 1849 he moved to become the vicar of St. Mary's at Chigwell in Essex (in the diocese of Rochester). Again this was a parish in the gift of George Murray. A year later George Goddard followed in his father's footsteps again. In The clergy list he appeared as Chaplain to the Bishop of Rochester: in his case Examining Chaplain, which meant he was responsible for helping the bishop select ordinands. In 1847 the Bishop addressed Parliament as follows: Many years ago I informed candidates from Oxford (for ordination) that I should require them to have a certificate, not from the Regis Professor of Divinity but from the Margaret Professor. This probably tells us a little more about George's education. It is unlikely that the bishop would have appointed someone as his Examining Chaplain who had a certificate from the Regis Professor. His must have had one from the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity! Again it is suggested that the young man had not erred concerning the faith given him by his father. And again, like his father, George was chaplain to royalty. In his case to HRH the Duke of Cambridge, the only son of George III's seventh son (DNB vol 2). The duke is remembered for having the Middlesex Regiment named after him, as the Duke of Cambridge's Own. He served in the Crimean War as Field Marshal.

A major milestone in nineteenth century church history is found in the middle of George's stay in Chigwell - the Ecclesiastical Census of 1851. We therefore know how many places of worship there were in Chigwell, their capacity, worship pattern and number of worshippers on Sunday 30th March of that year. There were three places of worship, two Anglican and one non-conformist. The two Anglican were the parish church of St Mary's, founded in 1160, and St John's Chapel, a chapel of ease situated on the western boundary of the parish, founded in 1837. The non-conformist establishment was a Calvinistic chapel at Chigwell Row on the eastern boundary and founded in 1806. Anglican clergy were George and the Revd John Smith, in charge at St John's. Smith was High Master of the Mercer's School near St John's (now known as Bancroft School) and he helped with the chapel on a part-time basis. The Calvinists did not have a regular minister. St Mary's had 400 'sittings', 350 being rented pews and 50 free places. St John's similarly had 400 'sittings' but here 220 were free and only 180 rented. The Calvinist chapel is described as having 180 pews (all free) and 'standing room' for 40. The population of Chigwell was 1,784 and according to the census 1,184 attended worship at one or other of the places of worship. This gave Chigwell an IA (Index of Attendance) of 64% which compares with the national IA of 60.8%. The Anglican PS (Percentage Share) was 43% compared with a national 29.5%.

George's main service, at which he will have preached, was mattins. In the afternoon he was catechizing, as he was legally bound to do, to 'Sunday scholars'. As the 59th Canon of 1604 stipulated clergyman should 'examine and instruct the youth and ignorant persons of the parish in the Ten Commandments, the articles of the belief and in the Lord's prayer'. Smith appears also to have held an evensong and 'Sunday Scholars' are recorded at both his services. He will have almost certainly preached at both and have catechized afterwards. Both clergymen would also have prepared scholars for confirmation but it is unlikely that the Bishop would have been able to come from Rochester too often. Comparing George's census returns with those of Smith is interesting. At the Parish Church we are told there were 'about 300' at Mattins and 'about 100 Sunday Scholars' in Church in the afternoon. Smith is much more specific. At Mattins there were '190 and 39 Sunday Scholars' and at evensong '100 and 36 Sunday Scholars'. This suggests that George might well have been amongst those clergy who were skeptical of the value of a census. Smith took it much more seriously. There is no suggestion that Holy Communion was celebrated on March 30th. It was probably celebrated only once a month if not less frequently.

The Prayer Book days of obligation; Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Holy Week, Ascension and Christmas Day, would have been occasions when weekday services would have been held in the Parish Church. George was also expected to say morning and evening prayer, either in the Church or the Vicarage, every day. He would also have performed what are generally referred to as 'surplice duties', marriages, burials and the 'churching' of women. Chigwell School, a public school founded in 1629, is next door to St Mary's. The Vicar is ex-officio a member of the Board of Governors. The school was founded with a Latin and an English School. The Latin half became the Public School and the English School was for local boys. In 1837 a 'Girl's School' was founded. These last two were to become St Mary's Church of England School. George will have provided religious education for them.

In 1855 George was presented to the Rectory at Southfleet, in the hop fields of Kent. It had been held before George arrived by George Edward Murray, eldest son of Bishop Murray. He had died in office in 1854. George Goddard was to remain there until his dearth in 1893, 28 years later. A year after his arrival in Kent George was made an honorary canon of Rochester Cathedral.

It would appear that Southfleet's church (St. Nicholas') was in a bad state of repair when he arrived. In 1861 he was concerned regarding the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Bill that was that year before Parliament. In 1864, a paper appeared from the Rectory addressed to 'Proprietors and Principal Inhabitants of Southfleet'. Here the state of the Church was given in more detail. It needed a new pavement around it, and it had 'dilapidated windows, rotten flooring and decaying roof.' We can assume that the parishioners rose to the Rector's request for financial support as we don't hear more on this matter.

The paper tells us quite a bit about Rector Goddard. I only wish to open your eyes to the state of the parish, he wrote. … consider the condition of the labouring class, it is a duty given you by God. Sunday observance was important to him and he wrote; The man who spends his Sundays ill is not to be depended on as a workman. Bad habits arise out of a Godless Sunday. Like Chigwell, Southfleet had a school founded in the seventeenth century, Charles Sedley's School. The Rector writes; The good work of our school is undone by boorish manners, dirty habits, no regard for God nor respect for men…these come from examples they see around them. He then goes on to say: I have been trying to organise a better style of Church music…12-14 men and boys cannot be expected to attend regularly, or a master give his time out of school hours…without remuneration…I also wish to expend £100 on a better organ…. Your faithful friend and servant G.F. Goddard

The returns from the 1881 census provide us with at interesting picture of a Victorian rector's household. Southfleet Rectory housed the Rector and his wife and a residential staff of four: a butler, a cook, a house maid and a kitchen maid. On census day a visitor was staying with then, one Mr H.H. Murray from Worcester. He was almost certainly a relative of the, by then, late Bishop George Murray and his son the late Revd George Edward Murray, former Rector of Southfleet. Mr Murray was a civil servant, attached to the Treasury. George and Sophia were entertaining a tax collector!

Sophia Goddard died in January 1893 aged 80 and George died in December of the same year aged 76. Their joint grave is a prominent feature by the south wall of St Nicholas' church, just across the road from Charles Sedley's Church of England School.

For many, knowledge of mid-Victorian Church life comes from reading Anthony Trollope with his discussion of life in Barsetshire. Reading about Dr Fillgrave, Mr Rerechild. Farmer Greenacre and the Lookaloft family I was reminded of Hogarth's characters and was convinced that, as with Hogarth, Trollope was painting his characters 'larger than life'. Having recently read Barchester Towers for the first time I thought it would be interesting to look in some detail at a clergyman from the period, who was typical of the dozens of clerics across the land. The Revd George F. Goddard was a name that appeared on the board of vicars in St Mary's, Chigwell that no one seemed to know very much about. He would therefore be a good person to use as an illustration of a 'typical' mid-Victorian clergyman. However the deeper I have delved, I find he was just as 'larger than life' as Trollope's characters are. I have probably done Trollope an injustice, except for the unfortunate choice of names, his characters are really very true to life. Professor Galbraith, in his Preface to the Penguin edition of Barchester Towers, writes: Barchester Towers, not alone among Trollop's works, is meant to be read at, say, ten-year intervals over a whole adult lifetime. My work on the Revd George F Goddard supports this idea and my next reading will be made with a new depth of understanding.

Foot Note

In compiling this biography I am grateful for the assistance of Julie Goddard, Research Co-ordinator of the Goddard Association of Europe, John Redfern, Chigwell's Parish Historian, the staff at Lambeth Palace Library and the present incumbents of the various parishes that George served: the Revd Goodwins of St Andrew's (Isleham), the Revd Trendall of St Mary's (Chigwell) and the Revd Goble of St Nicholas' (Southfleet). I also have to thank Frank Meakin, churchwarden at Southfleet and Janet Caddock from the British Library in the Euston Road.


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Stephen Goddard, 2002