People of Scilly in the Records

Who was in charge:

Lords of Scilly, Leases, Governors, Military Commanders, Lord Proprietors'' etc. etc..

When you are dealing with the various historical texts associated with the Isles of Scilly, who is the current Proprietor at the time can be a very confusing.  Particularly with the Godolphin family, this archive is not clear as to who in this family was the nominated Governor, and at which date.  This is a start but help is needed!  There were also Deputy Governors!

Prior to 1337 the Isles of Scilly were part of the ancient Earldom of Cornwall granted by William the Conqueror to his brother Robert, Earl of Mortain.  They formed a general lordship appurtenant and owing allegiance to the honour of the Castle of Launceston, and the rent, known as 'waiternfee' consisting of "three hundred birds called poffins" was payable at the Gate of Launceston Castle. [1]




Born : Died

Abbots & Monks of Tavistock


Robert de Wick (Reginald Earl of Cornwall)

c. 1248

Drugo (Drew) de Barentin (Barrentine) plus bailiffs sent by Henry III


Family of Ralph de Blanchminster (Edward I to Henry 6th ?)

Duchy of Cornwall from the dissolution of the monasteries (1536 to 1541)

Capt. Thomas Godolphin?

1520 to1570
1547 to c.1549

Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour (was beheaded after two years)

Beheaded 1549
1549 to c.1570

Godophin - Captain of the Isles until c.1570

1570 to 1608

Sir Francis Godolphin 1 (Leased by Elizabeth I for 38 years)

1540 to 1608
1608 to 1613

Sir William Godolphin of Godolphin

1567 to 1613
? to1636

William Godolphin

1611 to 1636
1636 to 1643

Sidney Godolphin

1610 to 1643
1613 to 1651

Sir Frances Godolphin of Godolphin 2 (Grandson of 1)

Sept 25, 1605 to March 22, 1667
1646 to 1648/9

Colonel Anthony Buller (Parliamentarian)

1613 to 1679
1649 to 1651

Sir John Grenville (Royalist for Charles II)

1628 to 1701
1651 to 1660

Lt-Colonel Joseph Hunkyn (Hunkin) (Parliamentarian)

1610 to 1661?
1660 to 1667

(Back to) Sir Frances Godolphin of Godolphin [Steward Thomas Ekins]

Sept 25, 1605 to March 22, 1667
1667 to 1712?

Sidney Golophin, 1st Earl of Godolphin   [Steward Thomas Ekins till ?]

1645 to Sept 15, 1712
? to 1766?

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin (Major Bennet withdrawn in 1733?) 18th March 1728 given as start?

Sept 3, 1678 to Jan. 17, 1766
1766 to 1785

Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds

1713 to 1789
1785 to 1834

George Osborn, 6th Earl of Leeds

1775 to 1838
1834 to 1872

Augustus John Smith

1804 to 1872
1872 to 1892

Thomas Algernon Smith-Dorrien (Name changed in 1872 to Smith-Dorrien-Smith by Royal Licence).

1846 to 1892
1918 to 1920

Major Arthur Algernon Dorrien Smith or (Smith-Dorrien-Smith)

1876 to 1955
1955 to 1973

Commander Thomas Mervyn Dorrien Smith or (Smith-Dorrien-Smith)

1913 to 1973
1973 to current

Robert Dorrien Smith or (Smith-Dorrien-Smith)

1951 to date


It is said that before the Norman Conquest of 1066, there was on Scilly, a cell of two Benedictine Monks dedicated to St Nicholas and later, various religious hermits . King Henry I gave the hermits' territory, and all the churches of Scilly, to Osbert, the Abbot of Tavistock.  He established a priory on Tresco.  It is not clear how long the Monks of Tavistock maintained control.

In 1300, Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, granted Sir John de Aled and his heirs the whole of St Agnes, with all its rents, customs, and wrecks cast ashore, for a yearly payment of 'half a mark'.  I am not sure how long this arrangement continued but there is another reference for 1351 in which St Agnes was granted to Lawrence Hawley by his brother Ralph, on payment of one grain of wheat for the first seven years, after which the yearly rent was one hundred shillings. 

In c. 1300 Edward I granted the Castle of Ennor (Old Town, St Mary's) to Randolph de Blankminster who was to find and maintain 12 armed men to keep the peace.  In 1308, William Le Peor, coroner of the island complained to the king that Blankminster, instead of maintaining the peace was dealing with "rogues, thieves, felons and outlaws" thus hindering him in the performance of his duties.  This complaint apparently did him no good at all because it is said that William was fined a hundred marks and imprisoned at "Le Val" (Holy Vale?)

The Duchy seem to have had control from c. 1539?

The following is from a book called Court Satires of the Restoration by John Harold Wilson, 1976.
November 8, 1682, "Capt. Godolphin, governor of Scilly, was killed in a duel by Col. Dungan in a yard in Drury Lane"
(CSPD, 1682, p. 526). According to Luttrell (I, 236) the duel was between "Mr. Godolphin and one Lieutenant Duncomb." According to a third account, Godolphin was killed by "Mr. Duncome, who also received three wounds" (Seventh Report, p. 480A).
[ts]  The text goes on to describe Colonel Duncan Abercromy who was "an army career officer, a rake and a furious duelist"   There are apparently many versions of this name, both used as surnames.  There is no clue to the actual Godolphin who was supposed killed in the duel.  [2] - Needs following up since date does not tie up with the list above, but see below;

The following is a part list called List of 'Governors and Lieut. Governors' in the National Archives SP36/1 (1727)

July 20, 1664; Sir Francis Golophin April, 1690;  Sidney Godolphin Esq.
April 20, 1667; Sir William Godolphin 1700;---------? Godolphin Esq.  (Possibly Sidney)
1681; William Godolphin Esq. (Perhaps he was the one killed in the duel, however no proof found) September, 1701; Sidney Godolphin Esq.
November, 1682; Francis Godolphin Esq. March, 1704;  William Grills Esq. (Grylls?)
February, 1685; Francis Godolphin (Renewal on King James's Accession May, 1714; Sidney Godolphin
July, 1689; Earl of Bath June, 1727; Sidney Godolphin Esq.

Vice-Admirals of Scilly:
Frances Godolphin (Senior) 1570 - 1606
Not Clear? 1606 - 1630
Francis Godolphin (Junior) 1630 - 1638

BACK TO G in A to Z


Population Estimates


St Mary's


St Martin's

St Agnes




1801 Whitfeld             1813
1808 Royal Cornwall Gazette 1165 411 206 215 90 33 2200
1822 Woodley 1400 880 720 390 330 120 3510
c. 1829 Times Newspaper 1400 480 280 282 140 34 2616
1838 Whitfeld           2618
1851 Whitfeld 1642 416 211 204 128 2601









c. 1897








2001 1666 180 142 73 92   2153


List of Chaplains of St Mary's from 1662

John Horseman
Edmund Hughes, buried 9 June 1669
Nicholas Phillips, came 1670, went about 1681
Walter Hoskin, buried 24 March 1688
John Maurice, came 1691, buried 20 January 1707
Henry Penneck, came 1707, went the same year
Peter Thomas, came 1708, died 1709
John Vigurs, came 1710, went 1712
Abraham Tyeth, came 1712, went1714
Jas. Trewinnard, came 1715, went 1718
Robert MacNoe, came 1719, went 1724
Richard Symons, came 1725, buried 8 December 1736
Paul Hathaway, came 1737, went 1745
Ralph Milway, came 1746,died 29 October 1759
Samuel Ryder, came 1761, resigned 1763
Herbert Lewis, came 1764, buried 1 September 1780
John Troutbeck, came 1780, resigned 1796
William Tremayne, came 1796, resigned 1815
William Prichard, came 1815, buried April 1817
Thomas Buxton, came 1817, buried 1834
Edward John Wilcocks, came 1835, resigned 1842
Isaac Wm. North, came 1842, resigned 1851
Joseph Treacher, came 1851, resigned 1863
H. MacDougal, came 1863, resigned 1864
Daniel Pring Alford, came 1865, resigned 1869
Frank Garret, came 1870, resigned 1870
James Henry White, came 1870, died November 1884
Thomas Scuddamore Cunningham, came 3 January 1885, resigned 24 September 1888
Walter Eccleston Graves, came November 1888, resigned 1902
Arthur Edward Banan, came 1902, left 1907
John Edmund Sedgwick, came April 1907, left January1909
Reginald Arthur Bosanquet, came January 1909, left May 1918
Thomas Albert Branthwaite, D. D., came 1918, left 1923
Cyril Launcelot Thorold Barclay, came 1924, left August 1928
Herbert Jocelyn Davies, came December 1928, left 1930
Edward C. Seager, came 1930, left 1944
Stephen Guest, came 1944


DIRECTORS 1920 to 1992

At the formation of the Company:
E. W. Banfield, C. Boase, Major A. Dorian Smith, J. Goddard, C. H. Hicks, E. McDonald, J.C. Rogers, A. J. Trenear,
F. R. Ward, F. Watts.

1921 - A. Woodcock.
1928 - N. Christopher, T. Moyle, F. G. B. Watts.
1930 - R. W. Ward.
1931 - C. A. Banfield.
1935 - E. N. V. Moyle (Company Secretary)
1938 - H. Jenkins, A. Nance.
1940 - W. H. Boase, C. F. Thomas.
1944 - F. McFarland Mumford.
1946 - W. G. Christopher, B. Watts.
1952 - H. J. Thomas.
1953 - W. C. T. Mumford.
1961 - W. L. Hicks.
1964 - B. C. Ward.
1966 - W. E. Banfield.
1967 - G. R. Page.
1976 - D. McKenna (Appointed by the Government)
1980 - J. E. C. Cartwright, R. W. Ward (Elected President)
1983 - T. C. Clifford, R. W. Banfield.
1984 - K. N. Christopher.
1987 - M. Hicks.
1989 - G. Langdon, T. Ward, R. J. Nicholls.
1990 - H. R. Duncan

 (See Bridge over Lyonesse)

New Council of Twelve 1783

I Francis Lord Godolphin by virtue of the Power Vested in me do Dissolve the present Council of Scilly consisting of 12 Men , on Account of their not duty Administrating Justice according to their Oath, and punishing all Offenders without Partiality, and for encouraging Vice, instead of Preventing it. For these reasons I do hereby Approve:

John Rowe Esq., Commander resident not under Lieutenant.
Mr Medbury, Revd Mr Troutbeck, Revd Mr Davies, Mr Thomas Davies, Mr Thomas Phillips, Mr Abraham Leggett, Mr Edward Rogers, Mr Thomas Hall, Mr Joseph Momford, Mr Foster Sherrys, Mr William Momford.

To be the New Council of 12 in Witness I have set my Hand and Seal this 28th Day of May 1783.   Godolphin

Notable Epitaphs

"Though I've been where billows roar,
Still, by God's help, I'm safe on shore;
And now I'm here among the fleet,
Waiting for Jesus Christ to meet,
This is to let you see,
I've had the fifth generation on my knee

Jacob Hicks, 1852.   Aged 96.

Bryher Churchyard

Farewell, vain world, I have seen enough of thee;
I am now careless what thou says of me.
Thy smiles I count not nor thy frowns I fear,
My troubles past, my head lies quiet here
By death from pain I am relieved,
With Christ a blessing to receive.
May heaven be my happy shore, to sing
God's praise for evermore. Amen

In memory of Mary Nicholas Ward, 1807, aged 24

What faults you have seen in me, take and shun,
And look you all at home, there is enough to be done.

'Modern' Tomb in the Old Abbey Churchyard - Tresco Gardens



David Stedeford - Islander Magazine

Frank Gibson - Islander Magazine

Matt Lethbridge BEM -  Islander Magazine

Nonie Handy - Islander Magazine

Steven Jenkins - Islander Magazine



Ralph Bird - Islander Magazine

Clive Mumford - Islander Magazine

Dorothy Barker - Islander Magazine

Alfie Trenear - Islander Magazine

Janet & Patsy Swanborough - Islander Magazine

Customs Records

See Note:


[1] - Times Newspaper, January 1, 1919.
[2] - Cornish worthies by Walter Hawkin Tregellas, 1884, may provide a clue!   The three references quoted by Wilson have not yet been identified.