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

Goodman Resources on

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 Engtland. 

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.

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

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
from North Carolina was an early arrival in
Indiana in 1818.

German. Many
of the German Gutmanns became Goodmans in America.
and Catherine Guthmann
came to Pennsylvania from Germany
sometime in the
1720’s. 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.

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
  • 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
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.

Nicholas Gudmundsson was an immigrant from
Iceland who came to Canada in 1891 and there became Nicholas Goodman,
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

Goodman Miscellany

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

Goodman Names

Julia Goodman was a
Victorian portrait painter.
was the
great bandleader from the jazz swing era. He was of Polish Jewish
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)



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