Select Goodman Surname Genealogy

Goodman, coming from gode meaning "good" and man, would be a status word describing the master of the household (an alternative possibility is that it derived from the Norse personal name Guethmund).  The German Gutman and Gutmann have the same meaning.   In America and Britain Goodman is often a Jewish surname.

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Select Goodman Ancestry

England and Wales.  The Godeman name appeared in the Domesday Book in East Anglia. 

Wales.  The first traceable Goodman family seems to have started with Edward Goodman, a cloth merchant of Ruthin in north Wales who had adopted the Goodman name.   His son Gabriel was made Dean of Westminster in London in 1561.  A painting of Gabriel, entitled Dean Gabriel Goodman, Kneeling at the Altar, hangs in Westminster Abbey to this day.  

Prominent Goodman families were also to be found in the 16th century at Beaumaris in Anglesey and across the border at Chester in England. 

England.  Records of Goodmans at Southhill parish in Bedfordshire began in 1561.  Rowland Goodman was a prosperous fishmonger in London during Elizabethan times and namesake of what was and is still called Goodman's Field near the Tower of London.  And a Goodman family from Cornwall, initially at Lewannick and later at Redruth, dates back to 1520.

Jewish.  An early Jewish Goodman in London was Tobias Goodman, a preacher in the London synagogues in the early 1800's.  Louis Goodman was a linen draper and town councillor in London whose wife Julia, whom he married in 1836, was a well-known British portrait painter.  Their seven children were all talented - notably Walter a painter, Edward a travel writer, and Miriam a concert pianist.  Henry Goodman, born in the East End of London, is a Jewish actor who has played, among other parts, Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof.

Bernard Goodman was a refugee from the Nazis in London in 1944.  His Gutmann parents in Germany had been rich Jewish art collectors in the early 1900's.   But the Nazis seized their art and foully murdered them.  Bernard's son Simon Goodman recounted the story and the efforts to retrieve the art in The Orpheus Clock

America.  There have been Goodman arrivals from England and Gutmann arrivals from Germany and sometimes elsewhere in central Europe. 

EnglishJohn Goodman arrived at Plymouth colony on the Mayflower in 1620, but did did not survive beyond the second winter in America. 

Benjamin Goodman, transported to Barbados as a young boy in 1672, somehow made his way to Maryland and then to Virginia (where his descendants were to be found for the next two hundred years).  Other early Goodmans in Virginia were Jacob Goodman, born in Washingtion county in 1745, and Ansel Goodman, born in Hanover county in 1752.  Micajah Goodman from North Carolina was an early arrival in Indiana in 1818. 

German.  Many of the German Gutmanns became Goodmans in America.  Michael and Catherine Guthmann came to Pennsylvania from Germany sometime in the 1720ís.  Their family later settled in North Carolina. Gutmanns/Goodmans in Berks county, Pennsylvania records trace back to 1742 and Henry Goodman's birth there in Jefferson township. 

Among later Gutmanns/Goodmans were:
  • Francis Gutmann from Hesse who came to America as a young boy in 1830, fought in the Civil War as Francis Goodman, and settled in Allegan county, Michigan.
  • various Gutmanns from Baden who arrived in Ohio in the 1850's. 
  • Peter Goodman from Hesse who married Catharina Speer in Philadelphia  in the early 1860's
  • and Abraham Gutmann from Bavaria who came to New York in the 1870's.  His children as Goodmans moved onto Kentucky. 
Jewish.  Many Goodmans in America have been of Jewish origin, including a number in the entertainment business; Benny Goodman, the jazz bandleader of the swing era; Al Goodman, a popular musical director and conductor at that time; Frank Goodman, a Broadway theater publicist; and, more recently, Steve Goodman, the folk singer-songwriter.

Oscar Goodman, who grew up in Philadlphia, has been a prominent figure in the recent history of Las Vegas, acting as a defense lawyer for many of its crime bosses and, from 1999, serving as its flamboyant mayor (John L. Smith wrote a book titled Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman's Life from Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas in 2003).  His son Ross is an attorney noted for taking up high-profile cases.

Canada.  Nicholas Gudmundsson was an immigrant from Iceland who came to Canada in 1891 and there became Nicholas Goodman, settling in Manitoba.  His eldest son Olafur was a fisherman who drowned in Cormorant Lake. Another son Palmie fought in World War One and later farmed in Selkirk.

Select Goodman Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Goodman Names

Julia Goodman was a British Victorian portrait painter.
Benny Goodman was the great bandleader from the jazz swing era.  He was of Polish Jewish origin.
Martin Goodman was an American publisher of pulp magazines, launching in the 1930's the company that would eventually become Marvel Comics.
The Happy Goodman Family was a Southern Gospel singing group founded by Howard Goodman who were highly popular in the 1960's and 70's.
Goerge Goodman was a popular American economics author who wrote under the pen-name of Adam Smith.
Len Goodman is the senior dance judge on TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.

Select Goodmans Today
  • 16,000 in the UK (most numerous in Hertfordshire)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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