Former Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin, in one of his last official acts, granted a pardon to a Norfolk lawyer who was convicted of playing a role in the collapse of an uninsured savings institution, state officials said yesterday.

Godwin's decision to grant the "simple pardon" to C. Lydon Harrell came last Friday, but was not announced until yesterday because most of Godwin's staff had left his office when the decision was made.

Harrell, O, was convicted in a state court on charges of forgery, grand larceny, conspiracy, and larceny of books of account in the January, 1973, failure of Norfolk Savings and Loan Corp. At the time, Norfolk Savings was the largest uninsured industrial loan association in Virginia with 3,500 depositors and published assets of more than $13.5 million.

According to a grand jury report, Harrell helped one of the firm's executives organize bogus corporations that were used to conceal the firm's shaky finances for years before state bank examiners closed the firm as being insolvent. A court-appointed receiver has since recovered 70 per cent of the firm's assets, largely through lawsuits against former officials, banks and others that were connected to the firm.

Harrell's pardon will not automatically restore his right to practice law, but it will restore many of his civil rights, a spokesman in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth said yesterday. Harrell surrendered his law license in 1976 after he was sentenced to serve 2 1/2 years in prison.

A state judge suspended all but four days of that sentence, fined Harrell $1,000 and placed him on three years probation. He was one of five major figures in the firm's collapse to be convicted in either state or federal courts and was the only one to be pardoned by Godwin.

It also was disclosed yesterday that Godwin in mid-October granted a conditional pardon to Eugene William Rollins, who was serving a life sentence in the state penitentiary for the May, 1963, murder of an Arlington car salesman. Rollins, who was 37 at the time his sentence was upheld by the State Supreme Court in 1967, is "terminally ill" with cancer, according to John R. Brodway, an assistant secretary of the commonwealth.

Rollins was released to the custody of a sister who placed him in a Maryland hospital. Rollins was convicted of shooting Leon Tatelman in the head with a .38 caliber pistol in what was a widely publicized case.

Godwin also granted a conditional pardon last week to Andrew Loiseau, a citizen of Belgium, who had been convicted of robbing wealthy homes in the state's "hunt country" counties. Loiseau had been given 25 years in prison for breaking and entering homes in Fauquier, Albemarle and Loudoun counties and taking silver and art objects from them.

The pardon was conditioned on Loiseau's deportation to Belgium, where he is wanted on charges of nonsupport of his family. Godwin said the pardon would be revoked if Loiseau returns to Virginia before 1986.