John Goodman, "Mayflower" Passenger

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John Goodman

Birthplace: Coffinswell, Devon, England
Death: Died in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts
Occupation: Weaver Mayflower Ship
Managed by: Private User
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About John Goodman, "Mayflower" Passenger

John Goodman of the Mayflower


John Goodman, presumed to be the same John Goodman who was later on the Mayflower, and signed the “Mayflower Compact”, is listed with many of the other later Mayflower passengers on the 1620 voyage of the ship “Speedwell” from Leiden to Southampton. He is aged 25, and listed as a linen weaver. This establishes his birth date as about 1595, possibly in Holland, or in England if he was a son of one of the Separatists who left or were expelled from England and went to Holland, and who comprised the majority of Mayflower passengers to Plymouth. But, no wife or children of any sex are listed as traveling with him from Leiden to England. If he was married and had children, they certainly would have been listed and traveling with him from Leiden to Southampton, where the issue of excess passengers first occurs due to the purported issues with the “Speedwell”, which was also supposed to accompany them to New England. And as the earlier 1620 “Speedwell” passenger list from Leiden to Southampton clearly shows, he traveled alone on that first leg of the voyage, with no family.

John Goodman is mentioned in several of the early Plymouth Colony records, but he died of the “sickness” of the second year of the new colony, and is named in various lists of the dead of those same records. There has been much discussion, debate and research on this John Goodman, and no Goodmans are descended from him, despite what many oral or traditional Goodman family genealogies may claim. Those earlier genealogies were often poorly researched, based on very limited information, and their authors / compilers did not have access to information and resources that have since become available online and in other venues. Some may have been outright frauds. See

From John Goodman has been a difficult Mayflower passenger to research.  Governor William Bradford, in his otherwise nearly flawless recitation of Mayflower passengers made in 1651, states that John Goodman was one of those who "died soon after their arrival in the general sickness that befell."  However, that is contradicted by his appearance on the 1623 Division of Land, where he received an acre of land.  In any case, Goodman had disappeared by the time of the 1627 Division of Cattle, and presumably died very early on.

In 1905, Henry Martyn Dexter proposed that John Goodman was the man found in Leiden records as John "Codmoer," widower of Mary Backus, who married Sarah Hooper.  But this has been disputed by many later researchers as unfounded: "Codmoer" is a pretty significant misspelling of "Goodman" even by Dutch standards.  To further complicate the situation, there is an oft-published hoax that surfaced in the 19th century that John Goodman was actually a pseudonym for John Dunham, another member of the Leiden congregation.  However, this has been conclusively disproven: John Dunham was still living in Leiden after the Mayflower's departure.

On 12 January 1621, Peter Browne and John Goodman were cutting thatch for house roofing, and went for a short walk to refresh themselves, when their mastiff and spaniel spied a deer and gave chace.  Peter and John soon found themselves lost.  They spent the night in a tree, in rain and snow, because they thought they heard a lion.  They found their way back to Plymouth the following day.  Goodman suffered some frostbite.  When he was finally able to walk, he took his spaniel out and found himself being followed by a wolf.  After a long stare-down and having securing a fence post for defense, the wolf eventually departed.

The information on family below is not correct.

Birth: Sep. 5, 1587 Coffinswell Devon, England Death: 1621 Plymouth County Massachusetts, USA

John Goodman's English origins remain unknown. There is a marriage record in Holland of a "Jan Codmoer" of England marrying Sarah Hooper just a year before the Mayflower voyage, and having been witnessed by Mayflower passenger Samuel Fuller. However, this remains our only clue. Upon arriving in Plymouth, John Goodman signed the Mayflower Compact. Later one of his fellow passengers recorded this story of him on January 12, 1620/1:

John Goodman and Peter Brown, having cut thatch all the forenoon, went to a further place, and willed the other two, to bind up that which was cut and to follow them; so they did, being about a mile and a half from our plantation; but when the two came after, they could not find them, nor hear anything of them at all, though they hallowed and shouted as loud as they could, so they returned to the company and told them of it: whereupon Master Leaver and three or four more went to seek them, but could hear nothing of them. These two that were missed, at dinner time took their meat in their hands, and would go walk and refresh themselves, so going a little off they find a lake of water, and having a great mastiff bitch with them and a spaniel; by the waterside they found a great deer, the dogs chased him, and they followed so far as they lost themselves, and could not find their way back. They wandered all that afternoon being wet, and at night it did freeze and snow, they were slenderly appareled and had no weapons but each one his sickle, nor any victuals. They ranged up and down and could find none of the savage's habitations; when it drew to night they were much perplexed, for they could find neither harbor nor meat, but in frost and snow, were forced to make the earth their bed, and the element their covering. And another thing did very much terrify them, they heard as they thought two lions roaring exceedingly for a long time together, and a third, that they thought was very near them, so not knowing what to do, they resolved to climb up into the tree as their safest refuge, though that would prove and intolerably cold lodging; so they stood at the tree's root, that when the lions came they might take their opportunity of climbing up. The bitch they were fain to hold by the neck, for she would have been gone to the lion; but it pleased God so to dispose, that the wild beasts came not; so they walked up and down under the tree all night. It was an extremely cold night, so soon as it was light they traveled again... In the afternoon, it pleased God from a high hill they discovered the two isles in the bay, and so that night got to the plantation, being ready to faint with travel and want of victuals, and almost famished with cold. John Goodman was fain to have his shoes cut off his feet, they were so swelled with cold, and it was a long while after ere he was able to go.

He apparently had not learned his lesson, because just a week later he again went out for a walk with his dog and was faced once again with danger. The adventure is recorded once again by a Mayflower passenger:

This day in the evening, John Goodman went abroad to use his lame feet, that were pitifully ill with the cold he had got, having a little spaniel with him. A little way from the plantation, two great wolves ran after the dog, and the dog ran to him and betwixt his legs for succor. He had nothing in his hand but took up a stick, and threw at one of them and hit him, and they presently both ran away, but came again. He got a pale board in his hand, and they sat both on their tails, grinning at him a good while, and went their way and left him.

Although William Bradford wrote that John Goodman died of sickness soon after this incident, this may have not been the case as he received a share in the 1623 division of land, although this may have been in name only. Some researchers have suggested that this land was set aside for John's children whom he left behind in Holland. Although likely that John Goodman did have children, whether any survived to adulthood or what their named are, remains a mystery.

Family links:

 Joan Elizabeth Pye Goodman (1582 - 1626)*. '''No, she's not his wife'''

 Dorothy Waynes Goodman Burgess (1603 - 1687)*. '''No, she's not his daughter'''
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Burial: Coles Hill Burial Ground Plymouth Plymouth County Massachusetts, USA

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John Goodman, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

July 1595
Coffinswell, Devon, England
Age 27
Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts