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Residents of Melbourne

Only one of George and Marjorie’s ten children married, their youngest, Ernest Graham. He followed a very different path altogether to his older siblings. Laurence, the fourth son died soon after birth. Charles John, the fifth son, stayed on the farm in Yapeen.

The two oldest girls went to Melbourne with their brothers.  Annie Catherine kept house for them and Mary the second daughter worked as a telephone operator. Ethel, the youngest, was in Melbourne with the others in 1903, but by 1909 had returned to Yapeen where she stayed until shortly before Charles’s death in 1946.

The three oldest brothers, George Lawrence, Arthur William and William Samuel all became grocers and moved to Melbourne. “The firm of King & Godfree … dates from 1886 as a business and 1870 as a building.” (6)

The “King” in King and Godfree was Edwin King.  “The Friends of the late Mr. EDWIN KING, senior partner of Messrs. King and Godfree, Carlton, are respectfully informed that his remains will be Interred, THIS DAY (Friday), 17th August”. (The Argus of Friday 17 August 1923), in the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton.” He was 79 years old and left a wife, Ann Rebekah, and four children: William James, Annie Blanche, Mabel Ada and Henry Edwin. He would have been contemporary with George of Yapeen.

King and Godfree share prices are regularly listed in the Argus,and on Wednesday 10 August 1921, the Argus reported a fresh flotation: King and Godfree Proprietary Limited, grocers, of Carlton, £20,000, in £1 shares; subscribers, G. L. Godfree, E. King, W. S. Godfree, W. J. King, and H. E. King.

Newspaper reports into larceny and fire appeared in the Melbourne Argus:

Monday 18 August 1890
Early on Saturday morning. the shop of Messrs. King and Godtree, at the corner of Lygon and Faraday streets, Carlton, was broken into, and goods to the value of £130 abstracted. The thieves effected an entrance into the shop by climbing over the back fence, which is 9ft high, and subsequently forced the back door of the shop. The goods taken away were three large boxes of Cameron’s tobacco, weighing 80lb. each, 14 or 15 boxes of Victory tobacco, weighing 22lb. each, one box of Derby tobacco, 22lb. in weight, and a quantity of loose tobacco. The tobacco was carried into a loft in the yard, and lowered down to the ground with a rope and pulley attached. The operations of the thieves could not be seen from the outside. The robbery has been reported to the police.Saturday 5 November 1892

A stable at the rear of the grocery establishment of Messrs King and Godfree, in Lygon Street Carlton, took fire at an early hour yesterday morning; Fortunately Constable Keneally and a watchman named Sealy made a timely discovery of the outbreak and aroused an elderly woman named Mrs Keefe who resided in a three roomed weatherboard dwelling attached to the stable. But for this it is not unlikely she would have been severely injured, if not burned to death because the stable was built of wood and the flames consequently spread rapidly. The fire brigade was summoned and prevented the spread of the fire beyond the stable and Mrs Keefe’s house, but they were not able to save all the four horses in the stable. Two were rescued but one was burned to death and the fourth was so shockingly injured that it had to be shot to put an end to its agony. Messrs King and Godfree were insured in the Derwent and Tamar Company for £100 and in the Alliance for £100. Mrs Keefe’s cottage which was owned by Mr J Neil was insured for £100 in the Imperial Company. Mrs Keefe herself was uninsured.Tuesday 19 October 1897 

At a quarter past 9 o’clock last night serious damage was done by fire to the  grocery store of Messrs. King and Godfree, a branch establishment, 329 Lygon street, Carlton. The cause of the fire is unknown.   It is understood that the contents were insured in the South British Company for £300.

In 1896, the firm employed about thirty workers and had nine delivery carts which they used to transport goods to customers up to twenty miles away. (5) They had three branches, one in North Carlton, on the corner of Faraday and Lygon Streets which is still in existence today. “Several one and two-storey shops also lined Lygon Street in East Brunswick, among them Messrs King and Godfree’s Supply Stores, which by 1896 had branches in Carlton and Preston as well as Brunswick.” (7)

A picture from the La Trobe Picture Collection shows it at about that time. There are many references to the present day store in websites looking at eating, drinking and life in Melbourne. E.g. “King & Godfree is a long established deli, fine liquor and wine store in Lygon Street Carlton. It is well known for its local and imported gourmet produce. 

The store in September 2010
I am very grateful to naomimatt, a member of Family Tree Forum, who very kindly took these pictures for me.

The store “was taken over by the Valmorbida family in 1952 and transformed thereafter to a source of pasta, tomato paste, olive oil and imported Italian foodstuffs and wine.” In 1952, Ethel would have been the last survivor of George and Marjorie’s children.

George was called for jury service in 1893. From The Argus on Wednesday 7 June 1893: “George Lawrence Godfree, 820, Lygon Street, North Carlton, grocer, called for Grand Jury service ordered by thu Full Court of Victoria, to consider the case of Sir Matthew Henry Davies and Mr. Frederic Millidge on the charge of conspiring to issue a false balance sheet of the Mercantile Bank. The drawing took place in the sheriff’s room, the public being admitted. Mr. Ellis drew out the numbers from a large revolving cylinder box and called out the names which corresponded to ihe numbers on the roll of special jurors.

In 1903, George and his siblings were living at 17 Wilson Street (a short distance from Lygon Street), North Carlton, apart from Charles who is in Yapeen with his father, but Laura and her mother do not appear on the Electoral Roll for that year.

The City of Yarra website did have a description of a Heritage Walk of North Carlton on their website until 18th August 2010, but this has unfortunately now gone.  There was a photograph of one of the houses, also now vanished from the site:  “Further along Wilson Street are three unusually large single storey houses, set well back from the street.  These houses were all built by George Godfree.  27 Wilson Street (pictured) was built in 1893.  29 Wilson Street was built in 1896, and 31 Wilson Street was built in 1899.” Allowing for renumbering of the street, I think it likely that they lived in one of these houses from then until 1924 when most of the surviving siblings were living at 134 Canterbury Road. From 1936 until the last of the siblings, Ethel, died in 1958, the address was 764 Canterbury Road. Various death notices for the family carried by the Argus give the name of the house – Rissington!

George Lawrence died in 1929. In his will, he left generous bequests to The Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation in Melbourne and The Royal Children’s Hospital.

In 1908, Ernest married Annie Florence Gertrude Whitelaw. He was an engineer with the Victorian Railways Department.They had two children: Graham Whitelaw Godfree (1909-1974) and Keith (1919-2010). In 1919, they we living in in Henty, Sandringham, Victoria.

Ernest invented an improvement to the telephone exchange. The origial article was in The Argus, and picked up by The Evening Post, Wellington New Zealand on 29 August 1910:

An inspection was made a week or two ago by Dr. Graham Bell of an invention by Mr. Ernest Godfree, of the electrical engineer’s staff in the Victorian Railways Department, states the Melbourne Age. A year ago Mr. Godfree brought under the notice of the commissioners an instrument that he called an “electro-mechanical selector,” and the commissioners were so pleased with it that they decided to have some of them installed. Three, are now in operation at Spencer-street. By the use of the invention a large number of telephones may be connected to one line wire, and intercommunication carried on effectively, easily, and with privacy. When two persons are conversing it is impossible for any- one else to hear the conversation, or interrupt the line. Any place on the circuit can be called up independently of the rest by one continuous ring, as long as desired. A great amount of line wire is saved by the invention, and taking the case of, say twelve telephones, not less than twenty-two or twenty-three line wires are dispensed with. The electro-mechanical selector will be specially valuable for telephone extensions in country districts, for group or party lines, and in railway signal-boxes. In making complimentary reference to the invention, Dr. Graham Bell said that it was ingenious and operative, and he was glad to see such a good result of the inventive Australian intellect. The idea was a good one, and if a patent were taken out in the United States it would be valuable.

He did apply in Canada for a patent for a Toll Recorder for Telephone Systems in 1912, which was issued in 1914: CA 158093. This is listed in the Victoria Patent Applications as The Godfree Automatic Telephone Recorder. In 1928, he was granted a patent in Great Britain for” Improvements in electrical apparatus for signalling information relating to trains or the like”: GB Patent 327944. This seems to be listed in Melbourne as  “Magazine train describer”.

The Victoria Gazette of December 19th 1923, listed the Godfree Automatic Telephone Recorder Company Propriety Limited, registered on 26th September 1912,  as being dissolved.

Ernest died on 11th August 1941 in Brighton Beach, Melbourne, Australia.  He was cremated on 12 August 1941 at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne. Annie died in 1957.  She was cremated on 21 October 1957, also at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

In 1931, Graham was resident in Brighton, Henty, Victoria.  He was a traveller/farmer.  In 1936 he was resident in Mitcham, Flinders, Victoria.  He married Bernice Mitchell Saunders in 1937.  In 1954 they were living in Brighton, Melbourne.  He died in 1974 in Box, Victoria.  He was cremated on 29 January 1974 at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne. Bernice died on 18 December 1993 and was cremated on 21 December 1993 at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

Keith was born on 14 October 1919 in Brighton Beach, Victoria.  He was a dry cleaner.  Keith served in WW2 as a Gunner with the Australian Army, in the 2/1 Field Regiment. He had enlisted on 12th January 1942 and was discharged on 14 March 1946. He and Betty Alexander became engaged on 12th March 1946 in Brighton Beach, Melbourne  and they married on the 9th April 1946 in Melbourne. Both events were reported in The Argus.

Tuesday 9th April 1946. Argus, Melbourne

Air Hostess to Wed
Betty Alexander, only daughter of the J. T. Alexanders, of Essendon, told me yesterday that Iris Strain, who will be her only attendant at her wedding today at Melbourne Grammar Chapel to Keith Godfree. ex-AIF, is, like herself, an air hostess.

Betty has been an air hostess for two years. Her duties have taken her on all the Australian runs, including the service to Sydney, where she met her future husband, who is also a Victorian.

Married at Melbourne Grammar Chapel
A gown of mist-blue French taffeta and a blue tulle veil were worn by Betty, only daughter of Mr and Mrs J. T. Alexander, of Salmon av, Essendon, for her marriage to Keith, ex-AIF returned, younger son of Mrs A. F. Godfree. Menzies av, Brighton, and the late Mr E. Godfree, celebrated at Melbourne Grammar Chapel yesterday by Rev J. C. W. Brown. Miss Iris Strain attended the bride, and Mr Max Strain, ex RAAF, was best man. Reception was at Grosvenor.

Keith and Betty had at least one son and one daughter. The birth of their daughter, Jennifer Ann,  was announced in The Argus in April 1947. In 1954 they were living in Brighton, Victoria.  He died on 18 March 2010 and was cremated on 24 March 2010 at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

GODFREE Keith 14.10.1919 Loved husband of Betty (nee Alexander) for 64 years. Adored father of Jennifer and Paul. Doting grandfather of Mikkeli, Alice and Aurora. (Herald Sun Obituaries)

Ancestry: Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922
Melbourne: Necropolis Deceased
Historic Australian Newspapers, 1803 to 1954
Herald Sun Obituaries
Among The Terraces – Work in Carlton
Planning Heritage: North Carlton Walk 
Cutural Landscapes of Tourism in New South Wales and Victoria. Page 28.
Yule, P. (ed.), Carlton: A History, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2004, p. 242


Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 23: Wedding

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Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

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Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Godfrees of Great Rissington

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The Godfree Daughters

George and Mary Godfree had 9 daughters. The oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was baptised on 7th June 1824 in Great Rissington. She married George Osborn of Charlton on Otmoor, Oxfordshire on 16th January 1850 in Great Rissington. They had four daughters and a son. In...

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The Ascott Martyrs 1873

Sarah Godfree's younger sister, Rose Hannah, married Robert Hambidge of Icomb, Gloucestershire.  They were married in Great Rissington in 1859. In 1861, they were farming in Westcote, Gloucestershire but by 1871 were living at Crown Farm in Ascott-under-Whychwood when...

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“Prominent resident of Yapeen”

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George Godfree was left two hundred pounds in his father's will,  which was proved on 1st January 1851, and by the 30th March he was an apprentice grocer, living with his maternal uncle, Thomas Smith, a grocer, in Paddington. Gold had recently been discovered in...

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William Godfree of Kaanlang

  William, the youngest son, was left the same sum of money as his brother George and by 1861, was farming in Fifield, Oxfordshire where he was still in 1881. He appears several times in the advertisements section of the Jackson's Oxford Journal selling wood at...

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