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The Goodenow Family Association

What is the origin of the Goodenow name? Some believe that the name evolved from Godinot, a Saxon farmer who came to England in the 10th century ( With the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, Godinot descendants changed their surname to Goodinhough, Goodinhaugh or Goodinhow, depending on where they lived, to avoid persecution from their Norman overlords. Hough, haugh and how are all Old English words meaning hill or mound.

"In the marriage records of Kent in 1379, Radulphus Godynogh wed P.T. Yorks and in attendance were his two brothers, Johannes Godynogh from Saxony and Robertus Gudynegh, from France. Three brothers, but all with varying surnames. The simple explanation for this is the fact that they settled in different parts of Europe and the way their surname was spelled depended heavily upon the dialect, accent of the area and the spelling capabilities of the town clerks and registrars. Also, it must be noted that until the middle 1600's, names were written down as they were pronounced, not how they should have been spelled." (From

Other early English spellings of the name are Godinough, Goodinowe, Goodanew and possibly Goodknaf, Goodknaffe and Goodknawe.

The following quote from Carol McWain Goodenough, GFA's founder, is from the introduction to the book Goodenows Who Originated in Sudbury, Massachusetts 1638 A.D.

"Whether or not our name is spelled Goodenow, Goodenough, Goodnough, Goodno, Goodnow or any of the many other ways, most of us [in the U.S.], and others with many other surnames, descend from a family that came from the south of England in 1638.

Five members of the immigrant family with some of their children came to America: three brothers, John, Thomas, and Edmund, and their sister Ursula in 1638 and Dorothy a bit later. They had lived near each other in England in the neighboring shires of Dorset and Wilts: John in Semley, Thomas in Shaftesbury, and Edmund in Dunhead. They sailed from Southampton to Boston aboard the 200 ton ship CONFIDENCE. Shortly after their arrival they joined with others to settle Sudbury, the nineteenth town in Massachusetts. The name is well known there today.

The oldest brother, John, had only daughters, ending the name in his line. Edmund, the youngest, was by far the most distinguished of the three, being prominent in Sudbury town affairs all his life. He died in 1688 and his life is commemorated by an ancient tombstone in the old Sudbury Cemetary in Wayland, MA.

The third brother, Thomas, left Sudbury in 1656 when he joined a group that settled the town of Marlboro, Massachusetts. Early on, the descendants of Thomas showed the tendency to move into new territories in keeping with the general westward and northward movement from Massachusetts. The first to depart was Samuel of the fourth generation, who left in 1775 and settled in New Jersey. Other brothers migrated to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Many descendants in these lines changed the spelling of the name to Goodenough.

As the families pushed westward, over the Erie Canal, down the Ohio and across the prairies, they left behind an interesting record. Goodnow Mountain and Goodnow River in the Adirondacks, the town of Goodenow in Illinois and Goodnow Hills in Washington stand as mute evidence of the advance of the family. They were early pioneers in many areas; one founded Maquoketa, Iowa; another founded Manhattan, Kansas as well as the State University there; a dozen were 49ers in California.

Among them were politicians, outlaws, farmers, lawyers, business people, merchants, educators, writers, missionaries, doctors, and soldiers of whom we record no less than five hundred. Some have been prominent, but most, just common folks.

Today Goodenow descendants are in every state and in all walks of life. So that they might share their heritage, the Goodenow Family Association was founded in Sudbury in 1988 during the reunion which celebrated the 350th year of Goodenows in America."

For an excellent treatise on the conditions in England circa 1638 and detailed background on the lives of the Goodenows and other early settlers of Sudbury, read the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Puritan Village by Sumner Chilton Powell. The book, excerpted below, may be ordered on-line from

"The Goodnow family, soon to be strong leaders and citizens of Sudbury, lived in an area of Wiltshire greatly disturbed by local controversies over Non-conformity. The parishes of Sutton Mandeville, Donhead St. Andrew, and Donhead St. Mary lay close together and many of the families within them were linked by kinship and by marriage. All three parishes became involved in the church courts.

Edward Goodnow and Roger Strong, churchwardens of Donhead St. Andrew, were cited in ... [1634] for ... wanderings from their parish church. They were required to do public penance and to contribute thirty shillings to the poor of their parish, a heavy fine.

Bert Sanger, and other preachers, had an irrestible appeal. The whole Goodnow family was drawn to these vigorous sermons and to others of a similar Non-conformist variety. In February 1637, Ralph, Simon, and Edmund Goodnow were forced to come before their archdeacon once again. They were all presented 'for going to Shaftesbury to church on Sundays and Holy Days'... The archbishop cited the canon and told them to reappear the following month, with a certificate from their parish minister that they had attended morning and evening prayers in their own parish church.

All three Goodnows obeyed dutifully. They did not openly show their resentment... But some had seen and heard enough. Joined by Walter Haines of Sutton Mandeville and William Kerley of Ashmore, a large Goodnow tribe headed for embarkation to New England aboard the Confidence. Ralph and Simon remained at home. But Edmond and John and Thomas were never again to stand humbled before an archdeacon's authority. From 1638 onward, they were determined to establish the true path to God, narrow though it might be."

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