William Godfrey, I (1822 - 1902)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Mettingham, Suffolk, England
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
Cause of death: fatty degeneration of the heart - probably years
Occupation: laborer / farmer
Managed by: Carol Fitzgerald
Last Updated:

About William Godfrey, I

THE GODFREY FAMILY VIEW FAMILY TREE: The initial member of the Godfrey family to settle on PEI was William Godfrey, I who married into another prolific Black family in Charlottetown. William married Sarah Byers in November 12, 1846. William and Sarah’s three oldest children, Thomas, Mary Ann and George were all baptized on the same day, the 14th of June 1853 at St. Dunstan’s Basilica (Catholic Church). William and Sarah had another four children, all of whom were born in Charlottetown. In 1854 William was convicted of petty larceny and served two weeks in jail for stealing a cow. The only early newspaper reference for this family appears in the Examiner in September of 1855. This short article reported that Frederick Byers had been convicted for assault on Sarah Godfrey and had been “fined 2s6d and costs or 1 month imprisonment.” William appears in the 1861 census as living in Charlottetown. His occupation was listed as “Labourer.” There were eight people living in his household, seven of whom were from PEI and one individual from England. William and Sarah’s last child born on PEI was Thomas in 1870. William and Sarah moved to Boston in the early 1870s with the most of their family. This move was documented in the boxing success of their son George. When he was quite young, George came with his parents to Boston. George initially worked as a Porter in Boston. He began his boxing training at Professor Bailey’s Hub City Gym and at twenty-six, he began fighting competitively in the bare knuckles tour. Godfrey’s ring title was “Old Chocolate” and achieved the status of becoming the first colored heavy weight champion of North America, fighting in more than one-hundred bouts. His height was 5 ft 10.5 inches, and when in condition, he weighed 170 pounds. He first took boxing in 1879 when he fought Prof. Hadley (colored), a six round draw, and Harry Hills, New York, for a gold medal. He next met H. Williams in Boston. They fought with gloves for the gate receipts, and Godfrey knocked Williams out in three rounds lasting seven minutes. In 1880, he was matched to fight John L. Sullivan to a finish for a purse. They were stripped and ready for the fray in the rooms of the Prof. Bailey when the police interfered. In 1883, Godfrey and Kilrain sparred at Gray’s opera House, Boston. Prof. Hadley of New York was his next victim. They at the Crabb Club, Boston, February 22, 1883 and Godfrey whipped the New Yorker in six rounds, lasting 23 minutes. Godfrey was awarded the $100 purse. Jack Kilrain and Godfrey met in April 1888, at the Cribb Club. During the third round the mill was stopped. Neither one had any advantage. Godfrey had a boxing school in his later years which had been located at 8 Tremont Row. George B. Godfrey died on the 18th October 1901, due to Tuberculosis, at fifty-eight years of age. After his death, the gym was taken over by his brother James and his son, George H. Godfrey. Surnames appearing within the descendants of William Godfrey and Sarah Byers: Bruce, McLean. William Godfrey I: Birth: Feb. 22, 1822 in Suffolk County, England. Occupation: laborer/farmer Religion: Christian - Anglican/Catholic. Death: Sep. 13, 1902 in Boston, MA, USA. Lived at 25 Phillips Street in Boston, MA (died there) and in Charlottetown, PEI, Canada. Buried at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester, MA. Probably became a Catholic because the Catholic Church aided in freeing many slaves in PEI. May have German, Irish, Indian, and English ancestors.

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William Godfrey, I's Timeline

1822
February 22, 1822
Mettingham, Suffolk, England
1846
November 12, 1846
Age 24
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1847
August 14, 1847
Age 25
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1849
September 6, 1849
Age 27
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1853
March 20, 1853
Age 31
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1857
1857
Age 34
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1859
November 27, 1859
Age 37
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1863
June 10, 1863
Age 41
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1865
January, 1865
Age 42
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1870
January 17, 1870
Age 47
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada