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Sidney Godolphin Godolphin, 1st earl of

Godolphin, Sidney Godolphin, 1st earl of (gədŏlˈfĭn) [key], 1645–1712, English statesman. He early established a lasting friendship with John Churchill (later duke of Marlborough), and their political fortunes were closely linked. They had a small bloc of supporters in Parliament, but Godolphin's power was based on his considerable financial knowledge and expertise and resulting favor at court rather than on parliamentary strength. A member of Parliament from 1668, he was appointed a lord of the treasury in 1679 and first lord of the treasury in 1684. Charles II created him a baron in the same year. Although he had supported the attempt (1680) to exclude the future James II from the throne, he remained at the treasury on James's accession (1685) and was one of his closest advisers. He was reappointed (1689) by William III and served as treasury commissioner until he was implicated (1696) in a supposed plot to restore James II. He was again first lord of the treasury from 1700 to 1701. On the accession (1702) of Queen Anne, Godolphin was reappointed to the treasury and became in effect chief minister. The early stability of his ministry, based on a Tory majority and his own and the Marlboroughs's friendship with the queen, was gradually eroded. He became increasingly dependent on the support of the Whig Junto, especially in order to carry on the War of the Spanish Succession. The unpopularity of the war was a major factor in the fall of the ministry in 1710.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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