John Goodman was born 1595 in England and died 1625 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes.

Research Notes

John Goodman has been the most difficult of all the Mayflower passengers to research. He is listed on the manifest for the Speedwell with age of 25 and traveling solo. He was also a signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Even though John Bradford's 1651 history says that he died soon after arrival at Plymouth Colony, he is still alive in a 1621 story getting lost in the woods and also on the 1623 register of the division of land, but missing from the 1627 register of division of cattle.

Also note that many proposals to afix a spouse, children, and place of birth have all been proven false.


Voyage of the Mayflower

Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor

The Mayflower, originating from London with a group of Adventurers bound for the New World rendezvoused on 22 July with the Speedwell just arriving from Holland with a group of religious refugees from Leiden. Originally intended to sail jointly to the English Colony in Virginia it soon became evident that Speedwell was not seaworthy. Passengers and cargo were combined onto Mayflower (with many left behind) for the journey, finally departing on September 9.

During the voyage fierce storms blew the ship off course, arriving at Cape Cod on the Eastern Massachusetts coastline on November 9th. For two days they attempted to sail south to Virginia but exhausting supplies and fierce storms caused them to abort this effort and drop anchor at what is now Provincetown Harbor. On November 11th, the group decided to settle here and start their own colony. They wrote a governmental contract called the Mayflower Compact, John was the 28th of the 41 signers on this document.

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

About the middle of December 1620, the ship moved and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. All the while the pilgrims were conducting several exploring missions of the area and negotiations with the local natives. Almost half of the passengers died, suffering from an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers disembarked from the Mayflower into their new settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Lost in the Woods

Later one of his fellow passengers Peter Browne (bef1600-1633) 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.

Vital Records

Bradford's 1651 Journal

William Bradford recorded his death and that of other male passengers traveling alone. But per the above story, John apparently lived longer than the rest of the others listed here:

"Moyses Fletcher, Thomas Williams, Digerie Preist, John Goodman, Edmond Margeson, Richard Britterige, Richard Clarke. All these dyed sone after their arivall, in the generall sicknes that befell. But Digerie Preist had his wife and children sent hither afterwards, she being Mr. (John) Allerton's sister. But the rest left no posteritie here."

Cole's Hill Memorial


A large monument was erected in 1921 on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts to honor the many pilgrims who came to Plymouth Colony in the Mayflower but died during the first terrible winter and were buried here. This person is one of those person's listed thereon.

Pilgrim Monument


National Monument to the Forefathers, commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims, (including this person) who came to Plymouth Colony in 1620 on the Mayflower. Dedicated on August 1, 1889, it is thought to be the world's largest solid granite monument. Located on an 11 acre hilltop site on Allerton Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts.



Footnotes (including sources)