Goodyear Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Goodyear Surname Meaning

Goodyear, as its name suggests, means “good year” and was initially a greeting like “good day” or “good bye.” Early spellings of the name were variable.

In the will of Zachary Goodyeare of London, for instance, the name was spelt in three different ways in the one document: Goodyeare, Goodyere, and Goodyeere.

Goodyear Surname Resources on The Internet

Goodyear Surname Ancestry

  • from England and Germany
  • to America and Canada

EnglandEarly spellings were Goodere and Goodyere, early origins uncertain. One family, the Gooderes de Pointon, dates from the 13th century and the village of Poynton in Cheshire. These Gooderes intermarried with the lordly Warren family and through this association could claim the title “Lord of Poynton.”

Another Goodere line, traced to Monken Hadley on the borders of Middlesex and Hertfordshire, dates back to the 14th century (there is a memorial to John Goodyere who died in 1404 in Hadley church). Francis Goodere of this family acquired the church lands of Polesworth in Warwickshire, following the dissolution of the monasteries, and built Polesworth Hall for him and his descendants.

The line at Monken Hadley continued and it is believed that through these Gooderes, via Zachary Goodyere a vintner in London, came Stephen Goodyear, the emigrant to America. Grace Goodyear Kirkman’s 1899 book Genealogy of the Goodyear Family traced this lineage.

The Goodyear name cropped up frequently in Yorkshire during the 19th century. Yorkshire accounted for 21% of the Goodyears in the 1891 English census.

America. Stephen Goodyear was one of the founders of the New Haven colony in Connecticut in 1638.

A descendant via Theophilus Goodyear was Charles Goodyear who was born in New Haven in 1800. He was the first to vulcanize rubber, a process which he discovered in 1839 and patented in 1844. Although he died in 1860 after collapsing on the street in New York, his name has lived on.

In 1898, almost four decades after his death, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was founded and named after Goodyear by Frank Seiberling. Unlike their rivals Firestone there were no real Goodyears at the helm of this company.

Another line, via Andrew Goodyear, was to be found in upstate New York. Here Frank Goodyear developed an extensive lumber and coal mining business in the late 1800’s.

“To get lumber and coal to market, the Goodyears built the Buffalo and Susquehanna railway north from Wellsville to Buffalo. This line was completed in 1906 and linked their lumber and coal lands to the ships at Buffalo.”

Some of these Goodyears founded the town of Bogalusa in Louisiana in 1906 by building a sawmill there. Chip Goodyear, who has worked for the Australian company BHP and the Singapore holding company Temasek, came from the same Buffalo family.

There were also German Goodjahrs who came to America, such as Johann Christian Goodjahr from Saxony who was in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania by the 1740’s. Within a couple of generations their name had changed to Goodyear.

Canada. Thomas and John Goodyear were two brothers from Yorkshire who emigrated to Canada in the early 1840’s. John started as a shoemaker and later became a detective and constable in Chatham, Ontario. Thomas stayed in Sandwich, Ontario for a while but then moved south to Detroit.

Goodyear Surname Miscellany

Goodere Origins.  Early Gooderes have been traced to Cheshire in the northwest and Middlesex/Hertfordshire in the southeast.  The following was the explanation provided by the Rev. Frederick Cass:

“The Gooderes came originally from Cumberland, close to the Scotch border, settled at Monken Hadley and remained connected with it for two or three centuries. They afterward became widely scattered throughout the country under the names Goodere, Goodier, Goodair, Goodyer, Goodyere, Goodyeere, Goodyeare and Goodyear.” 

The Henry Gooderes of Polesworth Hall.  In 1571 Henry Goodere was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  His association with Mary Queen of Scots during her internment in Coventry had brought him under suspicion of treason against Queen Elizabeth I. However, Henry successfully protested his innocence and he was released in 1572. He was subsequently knighted and in 1588 promoted to colonel in the Queen’s Bodyguard.

The second Henry Goodere was made “one of the Gentlemen of his Majesty’s Privy Chamber” by James I and was knighted in 1603.  He was a close friend of the poet John Donne aqnd was supportive of other poets and playwrights.  However, his lifestyle proved to be extravagant and ultimately unsupportable.  He died at Polesworth in 1627 almost penniless.

Stephen Goodyear of New Haven.  On the back of a descendant’s gravestones, there is the following inscription:

“Stephen Goodyear, a merchant of London, came to New Haven in 1638, was chosen magistrate and Deputy Governor of the colony and thereafter till his death at London in 1658.  He was the ancestor of all in America who bear his name.”

In fact he probably died at sea on the passage to England.  He owned a vessel, the Saint John, and was licensed to carry passengers between England and America.

He was also part of the company called the Ship Fellowship of New Haven which built the phantom ship that left New Haven harbor in January 1646 for London and was never heard from again.  His first wife Mary was lost on that ship.  Stephen married Margaret, the widowed wife of the captain of the ship, two years later.

Charles Goodyear and His Rubber Invention.  The “rubber fever” of the early 1830’s had ended as suddenly as it had begun.  At first everybody had wanted things made of the new waterproof gum from Brazil.  Factories sprang up to meet the demand.  Then abruptly the public had become fed up with the messy stuff which froze bone-hard in winter and turned glue-like in summer. Not one of the young rubber companies survived as long as five years.  Investors lost millions.  Rubber, everyone agreed, was through in America.

But Charles Goodyear did not agree.  He persisted in his experiments to make rubber viable.  However, after five futile years, he was near rock bottom. Farmers around Woburn, Massachusetts where he lived gave his children milk and let them dig half-grown potatoes for food.

The great discovery came in the winter of 1839.  Goodyear was using sulfur in his experiments now.  Although Goodyear himself has left the details in doubt, the most persistent story is that one February day he wandered into Woburn’s general store to show off his latest gum-and-sulfur formula.  Snickers rose from the cracker-barrel forum and the usually mild-mannered little inventor got excited, waved his sticky fistful of gum in the air.  It flew from his fingers and landed on the sizzling-hot potbellied stove.

When he bent to scrape it off, he found that instead of melting like molasses, it had charred like leather. And around the charred area was a dry, springy brown rim – “gum elastic” still, but so remarkably altered that it was virtually a new substance.  He had made weatherproof rubber.

He did not profit greatly from his invention during his lifetime.  When he died in New York in 1860 he was $200,000 in debt.  Eventually, however, accumulated royalties made his family comfortable.  His son Charles – inheriting something more precious, inventive talent, – later built a small fortune on shoemaking machinery.

The Goodyears of Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Two brothers from Buffalo, New York – Charles W. Goodyear and Frank H. Goodyear – erected a sawmill on the Bogue Lusa creek in Washington parish, Louisiana in 1906. Two year later the Great Southern Lumber Company started operating and was to do so for the next thirty years.  It was for many years the largest sawmill in the world.

The Bogalusa township sprung up as the Goodyears built houses for their workers. Four generations of Goodyears lived in Bogalusa. Their story was told in C.W. Goodyear’s 1950 book Bogalusa Story. 

Goodyear Names

  • Stephen Goodyear was one of the founders of the New Haven colony in 1638.
  • Charles Goodyear discovered and patented the process for vulcanizing rubber in the 1840’s.
  • Julie Goodyear is well-known on British TV as the actress playing Bet Lynch in Coronation Street.

Goodyear Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in Kent)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Goodyear and Like Surnames

From our selection, these are the surnames of those who have made their business mark in America – as pioneers, inventors, developers, or corporate leaders – over its long history from colonial to modern times.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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