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

Also see at: http://www.themayflower “Any person able to document their descent from one or more of the following Mayflower Pilgrims is eligible to apply for membership in the Mayflower Society:”; where John Goodman is not on the list. The fact is that in the 388 years since the Mayflower Compact was signed, no one has ever been able to prove to the Membership Committee of The Mayflower Society that they were descended from this John Goodman, from any male or female lineage, and I am sure many have tried.

Despite some claims, there is also no evidence or proof that his purported wife and/or children came later on any other Mayflower voyage, or on the “Speedwell”. There were several ships named “Speedwell” in the last 400 years. The one that carried the Leiden Separatists from Holland to Southhampton in 1620, where many but not all of them later embarked on the Mayflower, was declared un-seaworthy and later sold by the Separatists. That may be one reason many abandoned the voyage, and some returned to Holland. re: A ship named “Speedwell” did make several later trips to New England in the 1630s, and it may have been the same ship, but I could not find any passenger lists for those voyages.

For more on the earliest “Speedwell”, see:

The later ship also named “Speedwell” made many voyages from Holland and Germany to the Americas in the 1700s, mostly with German or “Palatine” passengers to Phildelphia. There, their Guttman, Guthmann, Gutterman, and other variants of Germany, often Anglicised their names to Goodman, or it was done for them by clerks at their port of arrival. Do a Google search on “speedwell passenger list”, to see just a few of the known voyages of the later “Speedwell”. If your Goodman ancestors were of German origin, it is most likely that they came in this later “Speedwell”, and most likely into either New York or Philadelphia.


John Goodman of the Mayflower — 2 Comments

  1. my grandma had hand written letter that said our family tree and in the letter it read our family tree and it talk about john goodman and how he went back for supplies and bought back his brothers when he came back..And the brothers he mention our ancel and stephen. so what your saying is most of these documents are not supported at all

    • I rely on reputable and knowledgeable researchers, not unproven and undocumented family lore. In this case,The Mayflower Society, which has extensively researched and documented the family trees of all of the signers of the Mayflower Compact,largely as a result of applications by families like yours that may believe they are descended from one of those signers. Their position on the John Goodman of the Mayflower is that he was a single man and did die, and never left the colony, and that he had no descendents. If you dispute their conclosions, then you should submit your own application to them, along with any supporting documentation that may be in your possession. I can tell you that they will require actual family bible records from that period, and/or land records, citations from official records, church records or other reliable sources, and that no letter from one relative to another after the early to middle 1700 period is going to convince them to change their position.

      For the letter you cite, when was it written? By who and to who? Does it cite specific documents, dates and places? If so, then please reply with those specific details.

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