Letter to the Earl of Lauderdale, Doctors Commons, February 23, 1664
An Eminent Admiralty Lawyer Offers Legal Advice in Hope of Regaining Royal Favor [Manuscript]. Godolphin, John [1617-1678]. [Autograph Letter, Signed, To the Earl of Lauderdale, London, Doctors Commons, February 23, 1664]. Single leaf folded to form bifolium (12" x 8") with integral address leaf and red wax seal. Light toning, very slight foxing, some soiling to address panel, small tears along creases and under seal. Typed transcript included. $1,250. * John Godolphin had been a Parliamentarian from the early stages of his career, and the Barebones Parliament appointed him a judge of the admiralty court in 1653 where he remained until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 cost him the job. John Maitland, Earl, later First Duke, of Lauderdale to whom Godolphin addresses this letter, became a favorite of Charles II after helping the king gain support in Scotland and by the time of the Restoration was "never from the king's ear nor council." Godolphin is perhaps best known for his treatise A View of the Admiral Jurisdiction, which appeared in 1661 and may have brought him to Maitland's attention. This letter reflects Godolphin's deep knowledge of admiralty law and precarious political position after the English Civil Wars. Here, he uses the former to restore the latter, begging the influential Maitland to leverage the advice Godolphin has given into a formal "pardon of course," perhaps to allow him to regain his position on the admiralty court. It is unclear from available records whether Godolphin ever received such a pardon, but his legal career continued and there is some speculation that he was even made a King's advocate. A fascinating letter from both a legal and a historical perspective. See Collins, Jeffrey R. "Godolphin, John (1617-1678), civil lawyer," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (accessed online); and Philip Chesney Yorke, "Lauderdale, John Maitland, Duke of," in Encyclopaedia Britannica 16, vol. 11.
Book number 72579