John Robert Godley
Founder of Canterbury, New Zealand
John Robert Godley
John Robert Godley was an Irish statesman and bureaucrat. Godley is considered to be the founder of Canterbury, New Zealand, although he lived there for only two years.
John Robert Godley's personal information overview.
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  • 1861
    Age 46
    Godley died on 17 November 1861 in London.
    More Details Hide Details A bronze statue bearing his likeness was erected in Cathedral Square by the people of Christchurch in 1867. It was designed by artist Thomas Woolner. The statue fell off its pedestal during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Godley's only son was Sir Arthur Godley, later created Baron Kilbracken. His nephew was General Sir Alexander Godley, the controversial commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in WWI. The house that had been built for Godley in Lyttelton was later demolished to make way for a building of the Plunket Society. The Plunket building was from 1943 and was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake. Upon its eventual demolition in June 2012, the post holes of Godley's house were discovered. Archaeologists believe that Godley's two-storey house had at least six rooms, which is substantial for a very early colonial building.
  • 1852
    Age 37
    He later returned to England in December 1852, where he worked as a columnist and essayist for several newspapers.
    More Details Hide Details He mainly wrote about colonial reform, a subject clearly dear to his heart. He also was employed at the War Office. There he continued his argument for the self-governing of the British colonies.
  • 1850
    Age 35
    Four years later he and his family arrived in Port Cooper (Lyttelton) in April 1850.
    More Details Hide Details Upon arrival he was met by Captain Joseph Thomas and shown the construction plans for three separate towns and housing plans for the current settlement at Lyttelton. A fleet of four ships reached Lyttelton in December 1850. The Randolph, the Cressy, the Sir George Seymour, and the Charlotte-Jane all carried pilgrims and supplies for the planned colony. For the next two years he served as leader of the settlement, which was called Christchurch. He negotiated with the Canterbury Association in order to get them to change their conditions for pastoral leases to ensure that the colony was able to make a good start with a strong farming base. Godley believed that the Canterbury Association's purpose was to found Canterbury, not to rule it. He thought that the colony should be self-governing.
  • 1846
    Age 31
    He married Charlotte Griffith Wynne, daughter of Mr C.G.Wynne of Denbighshire, in September 1846 and in 1847 failed in a bid to represent Leitrim in the UK parliament.
    More Details Hide Details At this time, because of his extensive travel and ideas on the subject of colonisation Godley was asked by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the owner of the New Zealand Company, to found a colony in New Zealand that would follow the beliefs of the Church of England. Godley was persuaded to lead this new colony because of his political connections, which helped to secure funds for the colony.
  • 1843
    Age 28
    After graduating from college, Godley traveled over much of Ireland and North America. His traveling influenced and helped to form his ideas about the establishment and governing of colonies. In 1843 he was appointed High Sheriff of Leitrim and, in the following year, Deputy Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace.
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  • 1836
    Age 21
    Godley was born in Dublin, the eldest son of John Godley and Katherine Daly. His father was an Anglo-Irish landlord with country estates in County Leitrim and County Meath in Ireland. He was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in classics in 1836.
    More Details Hide Details He was always very sickly, which prevented him from pursuing a chosen career in law.
  • 1814
    Born in 1814.
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