These developments and a conversation with a friend who was an Anglican clergyman before he was received as a Catholic led me to think about the first Anglican bishop to cross the Tiber. Long before Graham Leonard, Richard Rutt, Conrad Meyer and John Klyberg there was the rather intruiguing case of Godfrey Goodman. His story is not well known, but it is an interesting one. I have edited together a biography of him from the on-line versions of those two early twentieth century reference stalwarts, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and, for a few additions, the Encyclopedia Britannica, plus a few points of my own from other sources:
Godfrey Goodman was born at Ruthin, Denbighshire, 28 February, 1582-3 and died at Westminster 19 January 1655-6. He served as Anglican Bishop of Gloucester, and passed all his public life in that church. His religious sympathies, however, inclined him to the old Faith, and when misfortune and ruin overtook him, late in life, he entered its fold. He was the son of Godfrey Goodman and his wife, Jane Croxton, landed gentry living in Wales. In 1593 he was sent to Westminster School, where he remained seven years under the protection of his uncle, Gabriel Goodman, Dean ofWestminster. He was an earnest student and when only seventeen won a scholarship in Trinity College Cambridge. He graduated from there in 1604 and was ordained by the Bishop of Bangor shortly afterwards.
His first appointment was to the rectory of Stapleford Abbots, Essex, in 1606. From this time ecclesiastical dignities and lucrative emoluments fell rapidly to his share. He was made successively prebendary of Westminster 1607, rector of West Isley, Berkshire, 1616, rector of Kinnerton, Gloucestershire, canon of St George's Windsor, 1617, Dean of Rochester, 1620-1, and finally Bishop of Gloucester, 1624-5. In addition he held two livings in Wales, at Llandyssil and Llanarmon. Even when he was a bishop, he was allowed to retain most of these appointments. He became one of the Court preachers and was chaplain to Queen Anne, wife of James I. It now seems clear that the Queen had become a Catholic before 1603, although it remained a private faith never publicly expressed.
Goodman's leaning towards Catholicity made enemies for him at Windsor. He preached an unsatisfactory sermon at court in 1626 and was reprimanded by the King. In 1628 he incurred charges of introducing popery at Windsor. A few years later he was severely blamed for having erected a crucifix at Windsor and used altar-cloths worked with a cross in his own cathedral at Gloucester, and further for having suspended a minister who insisted on preaching "that all who die papists go inevitably to hell."
Gloucester was a city with a strong puritan community, powerful in the life of the city, who had detested Laud's innovations as Dean of the cathedral from 1617. In the 1620s, however, with Laud's departure relations between city and cathedral improved. In 1625 the city lecture was preached in the cathedral and Goodman, who was consecrated bishop that year, was paradoxically on good terms with the puritan aldermen; the two sides united in their hostility to Laud. In 1629 Bishop Goodman sought to found a library in the cathedral whereby 'every private man [who] cannot furnish himself … might be supplied out of our common storehouse'; one of the librarians was the puritan John Langley.
In 1633 Goodman secured the see of Hereford by bribery, but Archbishop Laud persuaded the King to refuse his consent. In 1638 he was said to be converted to Rome; whether or not that is the case it is likely that at this time doubts were arising in his mind about the legitimacy of the separation from Rome, and he sought the society of the Catholic priests who were in hiding throughout the country. He was reported to keep a Catholic priest in his household to say Mass for him. He was frequently at variance with Archbishop Laud, and in 1640 refused on conscientious grounds to sign the seventeen Articles drawn up by him. He was thereupon arrested, but after five weeks in prison he overcame his scruples. This, however, availed him little, as he was soon impeached by Parliament along with Laud and the ten other signatories of the Articles and was sent to prison for four months.
In 1643 his episcopal palace was pillaged by the Parliamentarian soldiers and in a year or two he was stripped of all his emoluments. He withdrew now from public life to his small Welsh estate at Tŷ-du at Llanberis in Caernarvonshire from 1643-7. It was at this time too, most likely, that he was converted. About 1650 he came to London, and gave himself up to study and research; he was befriended by some Catholic Royalists and lived in close connection with them till his death in 1656. Father Davenport, O.S.F., former chaplain to Queen Henrietta Maris, was his confessor and attended him in his last illness. By his will, in which he made a profession of his Catholic Faith , he left most of his property to Ruthin his native town; his manuscripts and books, however, were given to Trinity College, Cambridge. His contemporaries describe him as being a hospitable, quiet man, and lavish in his charity to the poor.
Goodman's principal works are: (1) The Fall of Man, or the Corruption of Nature proved by the light of his Natural Reason (1616); (2) An account of his sufferings, (1650), (3) The two mysteries of the Christian Religion, the Trinity and the lncarnation, explicated (1653); (4) Arguments and animadversions on Dr. George Hakewil's Apology, (5) The Creatures praying God, (1622); (6) The Court of King James the First by Sir A.W. reviewed.