Friday, August 16

The Classic Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey Coincidence Which Isn't Quite What It Appears

Murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey
Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey being murdered
I read the following 'coincidence' on the Listverse website. They wrote:

"On the 26th November, 1911, three men were hanged at Greenberry Hill in London after being convicted of the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. The killers names were Robert Green, Henry Berry and Lawrence Hill (Green, Berry, and Hill)."

Sounds an interesting coincidence but in reality it's a load of tosh and that's the problem with some of the classic coincidences that are often regurgitated. And, yes, it's no doubt possible there are some on this blog too!

Here's what really happened:

Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey's life stretched from the 23rd of  December 1621 to the 12th of October 1678 - so nope, he wasn't about in 1911.

Godfrey was actually murdered on the 12th of October 1678. He was was found dead in a ditch on Primrose Hill and was lying face down. He had been impaled with his own sword.

About Godfrey's murder Wikipedia states:

Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey
"Two committees unsuccessfully investigated the murder. They received conflicting statements about Godfrey's whereabouts before the murder. There was no evidence of struggle on the spot where the body had been found and Godfrey still had his money and rings.

On the other hand, curious people had already trampled the ground when investigators arrived. The body was covered with bruises and a circular mark around Godfrey's neck revealed that he had been strangled. The sword wound had not bled, meaning that Godfrey was already dead when he was impaled, maybe for 4–5 days. Authorities announced a reward of £500 for information about the murderers."

To cut a long story short three men, Robert Green, Henry Berry and Lawrence Hill, were arrested.

The three men were sentenced to death on the 5th of February 1679 and hanged at Primrose Hill. For a time this became known as 'Greenberry Hill', because of the hangings of Green, Berry and Hill.

So unfortunately no coincidence on this occasion.

18th century newspaper about Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey

Other Classic Coincidences - pull them to bits if you want!
Famous Coincidences: King Umberto I
The Classic Coincidence Involving King Edward VII
Famous Coincidences: Abraham Lincoln

Bookmark and Share


  1. And I thought this one was real! In fact, I think in a reader's digest roundup of mysterious phenomena, this one is mentioned under big coincidences! Thanks for setting the record straight!

    1. I just happened on the differences by 'chance'. Probably a lot of the old coincidences have been altered over the years.

  2. Primrose Hill was not known as Greenberry hill until until after Godfrey's death, when it appears in the diary of Narcissus Lutrel and was taken as a superstitious indication of the three mens' guilt. They were later shown to be innocent when the informant, Miles Prance, admitted purgery. I checked this with Camden Libraries and there is no record of a 'Greenberry Hill' prior to 1678. This 'curious coincidence' has popped up ever since, including in Winston Churchill's 'History of the English speaking peoples', however, I can recommend the Greenberry cafe in nearby Chalk Farm.