Humphrey Godfray

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Humphrey Marett Godfray

Humphrey Marett Godfray (1863-1892) followed his father Walter Bertram Godfray as Greffier

Family and education

Godfray's mother was Frances Sophia Marett, daughter of Peter Daniel Marett. A highly promising career was cut short when he died at the age of 28.

He was born in St Lawrence and educated at Victoria College, where he won the gold medal for mathematics, the gold medal for French, and the Queen's history prize. In 1882 he gained a Channel Inlands exhibition for mathematics at Exeter College. While at Oxford he became treasurer and president of the Union in 1886 and 1887, and took second class honours in Law.

He became a student of the Middle Temple, but decided to join the Jersey Bar, and was admitted as an advocate in 1887. In 1889 he succeeded his father as Greffier. Brought up, as it were, in the archives of the Greffe, he had a profound and accurate knowledge of Jersey history, which he was constantly extending by fresh researches. The library of La Société Jersiaise is enriched by many notebooks containing transcripts of documents about the Channel Islands which he had copied at the British Museum, the Record Office, the Bodleian Library, and the Archives of La Manche.

While still an undergraduate, was elected a member of the executive of La Société, and in 1888 became its secretary. For several years he edited its bulletins, and contributed many valuable articles.

Col Le Cornu, the president, described him as "one of the most brilliant minds that has ever adorned our Société".


But his interests were not all antiquarian. He was an ardent reformer, and an enthusiastic worker for the Reform Association. He felt that if Jersey was to retain its home-rule institutions, it must make them conform to modern ideas. He was an eloquent speaker and powerful debater, and was mainly instrumental in arousing the demand for voting by ballot, and himself drafted much of the Bill that eventually became law.

As Greffier his zeal for his work won him the good opinion of the States. He was a popular Captain in the East Regiment of the Militia, the energetic secretary of the Rifle Club, and a Freemason.

Everything pointed to a brilliant future, when he fell a victim to influenza, followed by typhoid and pneumonia, and died on 17 January 1892, aged only 28. The Jersey Express published a sonnet in his memory.

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Descendants of Guillaume Godfray

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