Sharing our Links to the Past
by Wally and Frances Gray


LADY GODIVA
(Countess of Mercia)

Born: abt 980, Mercia, England
Died: 10 Sep 1067.

Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown

Married: Leofric III, born abt 1034, Mercia, England. Died 31 Aug 1057, Bromley, Stafford, England. (Earl of Mercia)

Child:
Alfgar, born abt 1002, Mercia, England. Died 1059. Buried in Coventry, Warwick, England. Alfgar md. Elgifu abt 1033. She was born abt 997. They had two children, Eldgyth, born abt 1034 and Lucia of Mercia, born abt 1040.

It is believed that Lady Godiva is a distant grandmother of Frances Mildred McNabb Gray. Thus, the children and descendents of Frances and Wally Gray also can claim Godiva as their distant grandmother. (This information is unverified. See note at the bottom of this page.)

The Story of Godiva

Long ago, in Anglo-Saxon times, the people of the town of Coventry, Warwickshire, England, were saved from paying very heavy taxes by the action of their countess Godiva, who rode naked around the town to prove to her husband, Earl Leofric, of Chester, England, that she was ready to do almost anything to make her people's life easier. This is the legend, and in Coventry itself there are monuments to Lady Godiva, streets named after her, and even a clock which, every hour, re-enacts her ride.

Godiva, or as she was probably called by her subjects, Godgifu, was a very wealthy landowner, and her prize possession was Coventry. She was married to Leofric, who was the Earl of Mercia, a big area covered all of the midlands and most of what is now the north of England.

Both were Christians, and the ruins of a church they built in Coventry can still be seen. Legend has it that on her famous ride, Godiva asked the townspeople to go indoors and shut their doors and windows so that she would not be seen. She was disobeyed by a man who has become known as Peeping Tom, but he never saw her because he was struck blind by a divine light as he opened his window. Peeping Tom is a much later addition to the story, and probably did not exist at all. For centuries, a fair was held at intervals to celebrate Lady Godiva's courage.

As to the question of Godiva's nakedness, many stories change over the years. One word changed for another with a slightly different meaning can make a great difference to a story, and it is more than likely that instead of riding naked, Godiva rode in Coventry without the usual badges of her rank as Countess of Mercia.  She may also have ridden unattended, something which was never done in those violent times when Viking raids were still part of everyday life.

The legend says that Leofric was so impressed by her goodness and trust in her people that he lowered the hated taxes, and Godiva has become a local heroine. We shall never know the exact truth of the story, because like so many other legends it was never written down, and merely passed on by word of mouth. But every child in Coventry knows the story, and even today, Lady Godiva is a heroine.

(Godiva and her husband are supposed to have founded a Benedictine monastery in Coventry on the ruins of a convent built in the 800's and destroyed by the Danes in 1016. Coventry once had many buildings of historic interest, including three churches whose spires could be seen from a distance. During World War II, most of the center of the city was destroyed by a German air raid. Dedication of Coventry's new cathdral in 1961 climaxed the rebuilding of the city.)

Line Tracing Back to Godiva
(The direct line is in italics with the birthdate or approximate birthdate in parentheses)

1. Frances Mildred McNabb Gray
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2. Donald McNabb and Elsie Lundquist (1904)
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3. Emanuel Richard Lundquist and Grace Honor Bushman (1873)
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4. Jacob Bushman and Charlotte Turley (1840)
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5. Theodore Turley and Frances Amelia Kimberley (1800)
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6. Thomas Kimberley (1765) and Sarah Hitchens
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7. Joseph Kimberley (1737) and Ann Bolton
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8. William Bolton (1710) and Ann Moss
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9. John Bolton (1670) and Elizabeth Dyott
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10. Mathew Dyott (1620) and Mary Babington
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11. Richard Dyott (1590) and Dorothy Dorinton
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12. Anthony Dyott (1539) and Catherine Harcourt
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13. John Dyott and Catherine Weston (1517)
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14. John Weston and Cecelia Neville (1493)
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15. Ralph Neville (1470) and Edith Sands
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16. Ralph of Westmoreland (1456) and Isabel Booth
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17. John Nevill (1410) and Ann Holland
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18. John Nevill (1392) and Elizabeth Holland
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19. Ralph Neville (1364) and Margaret De Stafford
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20. John 3rd Ld. and Maud Percy 1345)
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21. Henry Percy and Idonea Clifford (1303)
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22. Robert De Clifford (1274) and Maud De Clare
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23. Roger De Castle Herefs and Isabel Vipount (1254)
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24. Robert Lord of Westmorland (1220) and Isabel Fitz Geoffrey
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25. John Fitz Geoffrey (1215) and Isabell Bigod
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26. Geoffrey Fitz Piers and Aveline De Clare (1172)
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27. Roger De Clare (1116) and Maude St. Hillary
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28. Richard De Clare and Adeliza De Meschimes (1094)
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29. Ranulph De Meschines and Lucy Taillebois (1074)
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30. Ives Taillebois and Lucia of Mercia (1040)
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31. Alfar (1002) and Elfgifu
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32. Leofric III  and Godiva (980)

We have documentation of this line down to Ralph Neville and
Edith Sands (in our Turley genealogy disk,) but the information
(which appears in our Neville genealogy disk) is not documented.
Therefore that part of this line is unverified. I asked Jay Turley where
he received the information. He said,
"The information I got was from a book written
by Michael Call. I have never really put much confidence in it because it
is not documented. I do, however, enjoy kidding about it occasionally."
This is a challenge for someone in the family to try to prove the line! (WFG)

Home Page
Biography of Frances Mildred McNabb Gray
Mysteries of the Past

 

1998-2006 Wallace F. and Frances M. Gray. This web page may be freely linked. To contact us send to grayfox2@cox.net