Frederick Du Cane Godman (Biographical details)

Frederick Du Cane Godman (collector; scientist/engineer; British; Male; 15 January 1834 - 19 February 1919)

Also known as

Godman, Frederick Du Cane; Godman, Frederick Ducane


Ornithologist and collector. Trustee of the British Museum, president of Geological Society, president of the Zoological Society, vice president of the Royal Geographic Society and holder of many awards. He married twice, first to Edith Elwes (d.1875) who passed away soon after the birth of their first child, who also died shortly after birth; he remarried in 1891, to Alice Mary, daughter of Major Percy Chaplin, and they had two daughters, Eva (b. 13 June 1895) and Edith (b. 2 December 1896).

Godman went once to the eastern Mediterranean as a young man in 1852, and witnessed the Crimean war in 1855. He travelled extensively with his second wife to the West Indies, Egypt, South Africa, Rhodesia and on a second trip to Egypt went up the White Nile as far as Goz Abu Goma and joined a fossil hunting trip to the Fayum. He also developed an important early collection of Islamic material from Iran, some of which had been previously acquired by Jules Richard (q.v.). Godman described the purpose of his collection as being "to make an artistic and historical series illustrating that branch of the ceramic art which comprises the work of the Moslem potter" (Godman 1901). He was also particularly fond of hunting, fishing a deer stalking, became a keen collector and researcher of the flora and fauna of Guatemala, the Azores, the Canaries and Madeira, India, Bhotan and America. He also collected butterflies and published much of his research. His natural history collections were presented to the Natural History Museum in London (q.v.). He is buried at Cowfold in Sussex.

Godman intended that his collection be offered first to the British Museum. After his death, the collection remained in the family and was displayed in their home of South Lodge in Horsham, Surrey. His first daughter Eva died in 1965 and the future of the collection and the house itself was handled by his second daughter Edith. She recognised her father's wishes in her will and bequeathed the Godman Collection to the British Museum. Edith died on 18 May 1982 and this collection was transferred to the British Museum in June that year and registered in 1983.


Henry Wallis, 'The Godman Collection: Persian Ceramic Art in the Collection of Mr. F. DuCane Godman, F.R.S.: The Thirteenth Century Lustred Vases' (London, 1891: printed for private circulation); O. Hoare, "The Godman Collection", 'Christie's Review of the Year' (1983), pp.390-394; J.M. Rogers, "The Godman bequest of Islamic Pottery", 'Apollo' (July 1984); anon, 'Fredeick du Cane Godman', British Museum leaflet, 1996.