This web site comprises a brief history of one small branch of the New England
and Nova Scotia Goodwins.
This site is a work in progress. Thus, all criticisms, comments, suggestions, additions, or corrections will be very helpful. To submit any such items, click here.
Goodwin is an old English name meaning "God's Friend," and might have the same roots as several other similar names such as Godwin, Goodkin, Godkin, Gookin, etc.
The coat of arms shown on the front page is one of seven known to have been
bestowed on the Goodwins for some type of service rendered.
Although Goodwins have been in the USA for a long time (even before it was
USA and merely consisted of English colonies), we probably are descended
from peasants or tradesmen. (The landed gentry had no reason to leave the
old country and rarely did. Exceptions were when the king granted huge
tracts of land to certain favored families and one of the sons would travel
to the New World to take advantage of this opportunity.) The branch of Goodwins represented by this web site can trace our ancestors in a direct line back to a Josselyn Goodwin, born circa 1405 in London, England. His son, Robert, was a draper (an old English term for a dealer in cloth and dry goods), and Robert's great-great-great grandson, John Goodwin, was a clothier, so chances are we are descended from tradesmen.
There were, however, prominent Goodwins on both sides of the Atlantic:
- Dr. Thomas Goodwin was a celebrated preacher in London, circa 1650, and
was appointed by Oliver Cromwell to be President of Magdalen College at
- Mehitable Goodwin, wife of Thomas Goodwin, of Berwick, Maine, was
captured by Indians on 18 March 1689. She was a captive for five years in
Canada before being returned to Berwick. Her story is told in Cotton
Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, a religious history of America
up to his (Mather's) time.
- Captain Ichabod Goodwin, also of Berwick, was wounded at the battle of
Ticonderoga, 8 July, 1758, and was mentioned in the commanding general's
report to Secretary William Pitt, who became prime minister of England.
- General Ichabod Goodwin, son of Captain Ichabod Goodwin. I can't find
any information about whether he did anything remarkable, but he did rise
to the rank of General.
- Ichabod Goodwin (son of Samuel Goodwin and Anna Gerrish and
great-grandson of Captain Ichabod Goodwin) was governor of New Hampshire
in the early 1800s.
- Dr. Daniel Raynes Goodwin, another son of Samuel Goodwin (thus brother
to Ichabod, the ex-governor), was president of the University of
Pennsylvania, also in the early 1800s.
- John Goodwin, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was involved in the Salem witch hunts(although I guess this makes him more infamous than prominent). As quoted in John Savage's, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, four of John's children, in 1688, "being
possessed with a spirit of childish mischievousness, sadly perplexed and
befooled Cotton Mather, so as to cause Mrs. Glover, the washerwoman, to be
convicted of dealing with the devil, and hanged as in his Magnalia is told.
By these infant instructors the learned author was adequately prepared for
the honors he gained in the doleful tragedies of 1692, enacted in Salem."
- King Harold of England (1066) was a Godwin. Thus if Goodwin and Godwin
have the same roots, Goodwins might be descended from a former king of England.
King Harold was killed in the Battle of Hastings by William the Conqueror's
victorious soldiers (so it wouldn't have helped us much anyway).
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