Sidney 1st earl of Godolphin


His Background

Godolphin is often referred to as Marlborough's good friend that ran the government for him, or as someone put in power because of his (financial) expertise, not in power because of handy maneuvering in parliament or at court. At a first glance I doubt this: A because of the time he held important offices B because certainly at the time expertise was not that important an asset for office.

I now cite directly from an electronic version of Macaulay that can be found here:

'Godolphin had been bred a page at Whitehall, and had early acquired all the flexibility and the self-possession of a veteran courtier. He was laborious, clearheaded, and profoundly versed in the details of finance. Every government, therefore, found him a useful servant; and there was nothing in his opinions or in his character which could prevent him from serving any government. "Sidney Godolphin," said Charles, "is never in the way, and never out of the way." This pointed remark goes far to explain Godolphin's extraordinary success in life.

He acted at different times with both the great political parties: but he never shared in the passions of either. Like most men of cautious tempers and prosperous fortunes, he had a strong disposition to support whatever existed. He disliked revolutions; and, for the same reason for which he disliked revolutions, he disliked counter-revolutions. His deportment was remarkably grave and reserved: but his personal tastes were low and frivolous; and most of the time which he could save from public business was spent in racing, card playing, and cockfighting. He now sate below Rochester at the Board of Treasury, and distinguished himself there by assiduity and intelligence.'

Besides having expertise Godolphin was probably incorruptable. At a time when public office was the way to enrich oneself this off course ensured the support of the men who had to pay for the war.

Besides being remembered as an English Prime-minister, Godolphin is also remembered for his activities in horse-breeding


When looking at this career path one might be tempted to think that being Lord Treasurer is more important than commissioner of the treasury. It is, but the office of Lord Treasurer was often vacant, meaning the commissioner controlled the treasury.