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The Westminster magistrate and the Irish stroker: Sir Edmund Godfrey and Valentine Greatrakes, some unpublished correspondence

Marshall, A (1997) 'The Westminster magistrate and the Irish stroker: Sir Edmund Godfrey and Valentine Greatrakes, some unpublished correspondence.' The Historical Journal, 40 (2). pp. 499-505. ISSN 0018-246X

Abstract

One of the more absorbing events in the great drama of the Popish Plot, which swept through English political life in the autumn of 1678, was the discovery of the corpse of a Westminster magistrate, Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, in a ditch near Primrose Hill on 17 October 1678. This event, which sparked off a great deal of panic in London and gained some notoriety at the time, has continued to perplex historians, both professional and amateur, ever since. The speculation as to how Godfrey met his death and who did the deed, has tended to obscure the fact that we still know surprisingly little about this prominent Westminster merchant and justice of the peace before his demise. Despite an intensive historical investigation of Godfrey's murder, if murder it was, a lack of evidence has always been the main problem for any historian attempting to analyse Godfrey's character and career prior to his death. This was compounded by the allegation that on the night before his disappearance Godfrey burnt a large number of his personal papers. However, located in the collections of the National Library of Ireland is a small white leather-backed volume containing seventeenth-century copies of the correspondence of Sir Edmund Godfrey to his close friend the Irish healer and stroker Valentine Greatrakes. This letterbook is a significant addition to the historical record in that it contains what may be the only surviving personal letters of the ‘murdered’ magistrate during the late 1660s and early 1670s.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2014 21:08
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2016 15:21
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/3193
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