John Godbold was a native of County Suffolk or Kent, England, and spent long years as a sailor in the service of his country. In 1735, at the age of seventy-one, he retired from the sea, came to America, and settled near Mars Bluff in the northeastern part of South Carolina. There he married Elizabeth McGurney and his five children were born. In 1759 he sold this grant of land and received another grant from George III, King of England, of four hundred acres between the Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee Rivers in what later became Prince Georges Parish of Georgetown District, South Carolina. Still later the name was changed to Marion County and Marion District. About half a mile south of the present city of Marion is where John built his new home. He was one of the first settlers in this area.
John was energetic and despite his advanced age soon became the owner of much property. He had saved a trunk of guineas from his toil on the sea. Ere long he owned thirty negroes. The French and Indian Wars brought about the loss of some of his property; twenty-two of his slaves were taken and his trunk of money rifled.
John and Elizabeth Godbold had three sons, John, James and Thomas, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Annie (or Anne). The sons married and settled in and around Marion, but we were unable to learn what became of the girls. Most of the Godbolds in the United States today have descended from this early family. There was another John Godbold, a sailor from England, born in 1735 who settled in Charlestown, Mass., much later in the century. We found no relationship between the two families. A few of those descendants are living today in the northern and far western states.
John Godbold was a member of the Established Church of England, out of which grew the Methodist Church to which many of his descendants today belong. He died in 1765 at the age of one hundred and one.
Five years after his death his son James received a grant from George III of 409 acres of land. The town of Marion was later built on some of this land. Around 1800 James' son Thomas gave four acres to the town for the Public Square. In 1835 this was divided into four parks.
A few of John Godbold's grandsons married and settled in and around Marion; some moved on to other counties in South Carolina; and still others moved to North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.
Among the descendants many have been charter members of the churches they helped to establish in the new territory where they settled. Many today are stewards, deacons, elders, trustees, Sunday School teachers, and superintendents, most of which has not been listed in the genealogy. The present generation is a large family marching forward with the banner of progress and right living.