From the Old English personal name Godwine, derived from god ‘god’ + wine ‘friend’. This was borne in the 11th century by the Earl of Wessex, the most important man in England after the king. He was an influential adviser to successive kings of England, and father of the King Harold who was defeated at Hastings in 1066. The personal name continued in use after the Norman Conquest long enough to give rise to a surname. Modern use as a given name is probably a transferred use of the surname, rather than a revival of the Old English name.