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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Thomas Godfrey Memorial, Wilmington

  • Type

    Grave

  • Subjects

    Historic Cultural Figures

  • City

    Wilmington

  • County

    New Hanover

  • Description

    The grave marker, approximately three feet tall, is a rough cut block of granite with a partially polished face. The face bears an inscription to the memory of Godfrey.

  • Inscription

    NEAR THIS SPOT LIES / THOMAS GODFREY / BORN IN PHILADELPHIA PA. 1736 / DIED IN WILMINGTON N.C. 1763 / AUTHOR OF / THE PRINCE OF PARTHIA / THE FIRST DRAMA WRITTEN / BY AN AMERICAN AND / PRODUCED UPON THE / PROFESSIONAL STAGE IN / THE COLONIES / ERECTED BY / THE N.C. SOCIETY COLONIAL / DAMES OF AMERICA / 1929

  • Custodian

    St. James Church, Wilmington

  • Dedication Date

    April 4, 1930

  • Decade

    1920s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    34.235520 , -77.944690 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "The Lives and Work of Doug and Kay Swink," Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., (accessed February 20, 2013) Link

      "Thomas Godfrey (1736-1763)," English Poetry 1579-1830: Spenser and the Tradition, CATH, (accessed February 20, 2013) Link

      "Thomas Godfrey Memorial," Panoramio.com, (accessed February 20, 2013) Link

      Barefoot, Daniel W. Touring the Backroads of North Carolina’s Lower Coast. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair, 1995, 207. Link

      Godfrey, Thomas. "The Prince of Parthia A Tragedy," (accessed February 20, 2013) Link

      McEachern, Leora H. 1985. History of St. James Parish, 1729-1979. Wilmington, N.C.

  • Public Site

    Unknown

  • Materials & Techniques

    Granite

  • Sponsors

    The N.C. Society of Colonial Dames of America

  • Subject Notes

    Thomas Godfrey was born in Philadelphia, the son of Thomas Godfrey the inventor. The elder Godfrey was the inventor of the navigation instrument, the octant. The younger Godfrey had a very short life, living to the age of twenty-seven. He served in the Seven Years' War after being apprenticed to a watch maker, and subsequently located to Wilmington where he worked as a merchant's factor and where he reportedly wrote "The Prince of Parthia." The play has been regarded as the first to be written and performed in the American Colonies. Godfrey also penned a number of poems.

  • Location

    The marker is located in the graveyard of St. James Church, on the corner of 4th and Market Streets.

  • Landscape

    The marker sits in the grass in the graveyard next to the church buildings. The graveyard is separated from the street and sidewalk by a low gridiron fence and is graced by shrubs, plantings, and mature shade trees.

  • Death Space

    Yes

  • Approval Process

    The N.C. Society of Colonial Dames of America were given permission in February 1829 to erect a stone to Godfrey's memory in the graveyard.

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