John ‘Jack’ Goddard

John Goddard was baptised on 9 May 1817, in Holy Trinity, Stratford upon Avon,the same church that Shakespeare had been baptised in 250 years earlier. These days, for a sum of money, you can walk past the stalls towards the altar where Shakespeare’s gravestone is to be seen set in the floor.

There was a broken 15th century font in the church in which Shakespeare was probably baptised. There had been a Victorian font, (which we presume was put there in Victorian times, ie from 1837 when Victoria became Queen). This, however, was thrown out as tourists demanded a nice new one to photograph so they now have a replica of the 15th century one. No one seems to know exactly when the ‘Victorian’ font was placed there so our ancestor was probably baptised in the original 15th century font. In the record office we found a photograph of an oil painting of the inside of the church as it had been in 1838 before restoration.

[photo of font and church]

Having been driven to distraction by the multiple derivations of Goddard/Gorrod etc we empathised with the historians of Stratford who are having trouble finding a record of Shakespeare’s marriage to Ann Hathaway. We found one which might be our family but the vicar has written the name wrongly. Vicars who may have been senile, alcoholics, or just too busy and misheard the name are the bane of a researcher’s life!!

Heythrop Hall

Heythrop Hall
Heythrop Hall, Oxfordshire (2005)


In 1851 we found John living in the ruins of Heythrop House. In 1831 a fire had destroyed part of the mansion when it was being aired for the reception of the tenant Duke of Beaufort and his family. Owned by Duke of Shrewsbury, a portion was saved which they let the servants of the Heythrop hounds use.

John Goddard (bachelor) married Mercy Elizabeth Gorrod (widow) – father’s name John Gulliver, on 16 June 1845 in St Giles Church, Oxford.

Mercy Elizabeth firstly married Zach’s eldest son James and then married her dead husband’s brother, John.

She had three children from her first marriage, Harriett, Rose and Thomas (see James Gorrod chapter) and she was five months pregnant when she married John. Their first child, Emma died when only two months old and their second, James died when only two days old. Their third child, John Christopher, a huntsman, lived to the grand old age of 80 years and their fourth child William, our direct ancestor, who was also a huntsman, lived to an even grander age of 86 years. Two other sons James Henry and George C Goddard were also huntsmen.

They had three daughters Elizabeth, Sarah Ann and Mary Mercy. (more about their lives later)

John hunted as a whipper-in with the Heythrop hunt for many years. He displayed exceptional ability in this capacity under the celebrated Huntsman Jem Hill, and the two men “combined successfully for 14 years”. When his father Zach had visited John at Heythrop it is recorded that “his ankles were weak from rheumatism and a number of severe falls but he would often come out on a mule”. Years of cold and wet weather spent on horseback and training the hounds in addition to falls would have also taken their toll on all the Goddard huntsmen.

John Goddard was Innkeeper of the White Hart Inn, Chipping Norton, for a short time around the 1850s. The site of the inn was once a 12th century settlement and the oldest part of the inn was 16th century. King Charles I had stayed there and there were manuscripts showing guests being involved in a Jacobite plot to oust the protestant William and Mary from the Throne after 1689.

White Hart Inn, Chipping Norton - now & then 600
Now & Then: White Hart Inn, Chipping Norton


We found that the White Hart Inn had been gutted and converted into apartments and cottages which were being advertised for sale. The selling agent showed us around one of the apartments and they had actually saved much of the Elizabethan woodwork incorporating it into the new apartments. They had retained a Drawing Room with original Elizabethan oak panelling which had been hidden away for more than a century behind more modern wall decorations. This was now a drawing room in one of the new apartments.

It would seem that when the Grade II Listed former coaching inn was converted into luxury apartments the four poster bed was sent to a London saleroom.

In the museum at Chipping Norton there were boxes of old papers relating to the inn. There was a picture of the oak room with the Elizabethan panelling and it was being used as a bedroom with a four poster bed in the middle of the room. We then found a reference in other papers that – “there have been several reports of ghosts haunting the bedrooms”. Does the photograph taken in 2006 in the Elizabethan panelled room contain an unexpected ‘spectral orb’ or is it just a faulty digital camera?

(left) Panelled Room in former White Hart Inn (with orb!) and (right) Courtyard at former White Hart Inn


They had also found a brass tobacco box which automatically dispensed tobacco when a coin was slotted in and on the side of the box was ‘J Goddard, White Hart Inn, Chipping Norton’.

On the lid was engraved:

“A Halfpenny Drop into the Till, Press down the Spring and you may fill. When you have filled, without Delay, Shut Down the Lide or Sixpence Pay.”

We have found literature referring to the travellers on the Royal Mail coach, which stopped to change horses at the inn, being made to pay a 6d fine when using John Goddard’s tobacco box if they didn’t close the lid at once (after having first paid a halfpence to buy the tobacco).

Apparently the tobacco box was quite rare, being one of the few remaining examples of a primitive automatic machine, so the Chipping Norton museum people think it might have been sent to the saleroom in London or perhaps to a museum in Oxford.

A local publication about the inns of Chipping Norton refers to John Goddard in his capacity as Innkeeper.

“Before taking the White Hart John had been whipper-in to the Heythrop. He had displayed exceptional ability in this capacity under the celebrated Huntsman Jem Hill, and the two men combined successfully for 14 years when, the White Hart becoming vacant in 1850s, John determined to try his hand at Inn keeping. The cry of the hounds was too strong a pull for him however and he soon left to re-enter the service of the chase.”

Another article paid generous tribute to the skills of Jem Hills and his first whip, Jack (John) Goddard when hunting with Lord Redesdale’s pack. Their methods were so appreciated by the Oxford undergraduates that they subscribed to have them painted on horseback with the hounds. On the painting John Goddard is named as one of the three huntsmen but their facial features are not very clear. The students liked a hard and dramatic ride to hounds but as the huntsmen observed, “Bless ‘em, they fears nothing, because they knows nothing.”

John Goddard painting 660
James Hill, Huntsman, John Goddard and Thomas Slatter, Whips, with some of the favourite hounds of Lord Redesdale’s Pack


When John died 14 August 1880 he left around £4000 in his Will to his children and nothing to the children of his wife’s first marriage, although they were all small children on her marriage to him. She had died in 1877, apparently without making a will. However, we came across Letters of Administration in 1882 (2 years after John’s death and 5 years after their mother had died) in which her daughter by her first marriage Rosa (Rose) (married name Horspool) was granted £35. 10. 10 from her mother’s estate.

£4000 was a considerable amount of money for a hunt servant to leave in 1880 when he was 63 years old. In his last years he had worked as a groom in Lowdham. There was no state pension and benefits in those days and people too old to work either had to live on their savings or be kept by their children.

Click here to see the Will of John Goddard and Administration of Mercy Elizabeth Goddard.

St Mary the Virgin, Lowdham
St Mary the Virgin, Lowdham, Notts

John and Mercy Elizabeth Goddard are buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Lowdham, not too far from Nottingham. There were hundreds of old graves in the churchyard and so applying the logic that someone who had spent so much time hunting along particular fields and could afford to choose a spot near to those fields and possibly facing them, we very quickly found two headstones along that edge of the churchyard, overlooking the rolling countryside. The stone was of a very good quality and the lettering perfect, unlike many others of the same age which had worn away.





The wording on John’s headstone is so intriguing.

“Affectionate Remembrance
of John Goddard
Who died August 14th 1880
Aged 63 years

A sudden change & in a moment fell
I had not time to bid my friend farewell
Tis nothing strange death happens unto all
My lot to-day tomorrow thine may fall”

His friend, Francis Hames, a saddler, of No 1 The Haymarket, Leicester, was mentioned as co-executor and beneficiary in his will. Did he write the epitaph? He must have been a very dear friend if he took precedence over his many children by placing such a personal inscription on the gravestone.

On the other hand, John was buried within three days and it was the middle of August and they wouldn’t hang about in those days. His sons were scattered around the country. John Christopher was living in Cheshire, William was in Berkshire and George in Staffordshire at the time of John’s death. However, James Henry was living in Rutland, not too far away and could have arranged the funeral and John’s friend, the saddler Francis Hames lived in Leicester.

We wondered if all the sons managed to get to the funeral. It was quite an unusual family having great distances between them. In those days it was normal for extended families to be close knit and living together in the same community. We hadn’t thought about long distance communication problems in a country village in 1880 until now. If his death was sudden and unexpected it would take time to tell his sons and for them to travel to Lowdham. A son’s presence might also depend on his hunting commitments at the time.

We can only imagine the splendour of the plumed horses pulling the hearse at his funeral. He was very wealthy but was still working as a stud groom, aged 63, when he died in 1880. He must have been well known in the area and although he had travelled around the Midlands with the various hunts over the years he had been head groom in Loughborough, not far away, only 10 years before in 1871.

On his death certificate a coroner’s inquest held on 14 August stated that he died suddenly from natural causes.

It was quite a moving and surreal experience to stand in front of the inscription to Mercy Elizabeth Goddard because the bible she had as a child is still in existence today.

Grave: John & Mercy E Goddard
Gravestones of John & Mercy Elizabeth Goddard

Affectionate Remembrance of
Mercy Elizabeth
wife of
John Goddard
who died May 8th 1877
aged 61 years

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,
Blessed be the name of the Lord”

Mercy Elizabeth’s children with John Goddard

Their first child lived for 2 months, their second child lived for 2 days, and their third child lived for 80 years, and their fourth child (our direct ancestor) for 86 years.

   Chart:   John Goddard & Family

Daughters: Elizabeth, Sarah Ann and Mary Mercy

We know that Elizabeth, aged 28, Sarah Ann, aged 27 and Mary Mercy, aged 21 were living together in a house ‘near the Magna Charta Inn’ in Lowdham on the 1881 census. They all inherited an equal share of the silver tea spoons and silver services and an equal division of their father’s personal estate with three of their brothers from his will in 1880 (John Christopher inherited separately). The monies were for their separate use immediately. Elizabeth married a Nottingham tobacconist at the end of 1882 and died after a few months of marriage, aged 30, Sarah Ann did not appear to marry and was living with her step-sister Rose, at Loddington, Leicestershire in 1901 and Mary Mercy married Archibald Campbell Padmore, a farmer of Mill Farm, Loddington at the end of 1891 when she was aged 31. The Magna Charta Inn is still in Lowdham.

Sons: John Christopher, William, James Henry, George Charles

All were huntsmen and whippers-in.

John Christopher Goddard married Ellen Caroline Boxall when he was 28 years old. He died aged 80 in Davenham, Cheshire. As the eldest son he was left real estate in his father’s will. He was also a beneficiary, with his father’s saddler friend Francis Hames, of estates left in trust and mortgaged.

An article on the Cheshire Hunt described John Christopher Goddard as a brilliant horseman with a wonderful voice. He left after 20 years’ service as 1st Whipper-in and his portrait hangs outside the Hunt Room. When the Subscribers of the Hunt turned down a proposal for a testimonial the Master organised a private testimonial, presenting him with a substantial cheque and recalling happy days in his youth in Leicestershire with some of Goddard’s relatives. We noted that he had paid into a pension fund and the Hunt Servants’ Benefit Society paid him an annuity of £27 a year. This may have had a bearing on the refusal of a public testimonial. Incidentally, his brother William was not in receipt of a pension.

William Goddard (our direct ancestor) married Margaret Buswell when he was 25 years old and died aged 86 in Mawgan-in-Meneage, Cornwall. He inherited an equal division of his father’s personal estate and the silver cup that was given by the gentlemen and farmers of the Hunt of William Ward Tailby, Esquire

James Henry Goddard married Dorcas Barlow when he was 25 years old and died aged 41 in Cardiganshire, Wales. He inherited an equal division of his father’s personal estate and the silver horn that was given by the gentlemen and farmers of the Shropshire Hunt.

George Charles Goddard married Harriet Grundy when he was 25 years old and lived in Leicestershire. He inherited an equal division of his father’s personal estate and his father’s hunting whips.

James Gorrod (Goddard)…