Goodall, Thomas (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

GOODALL, THOMAS (1767–1832?), admiral of Hayti, was born at Bristol in 1767, and was intended by his father to be brought up as a lawyer; but at the age of thirteen he ran away from school, and shipped on board a privateer bound for the West Indies, which was cast away on St. Kitts in the hurricane of Oct. 1780. He was so fortunate as to fall into the hands of a merchant there who was acquainted with his father, and passed him on to an uncle in Montserrat. He was now entered on board the Triton frigate, in which he was rated as midshipman, and was present at the action off Dominica on 12 April 1782. In October 1782 he was transferred to the Thetis for a passage home; after which he returned to the merchant service for a voyage to the Levant, and afterwards to China. In 1787 he married Miss Stanton, a young actress [see Goodall, Charlotte], described as a very beautiful woman, whom he saw playing at the Bath Theatre. During the Spanish armament in 1790, Goodall was borne as master's mate on board the Nemesis, commanded by Captain A. J. Ball; but on that dispute being arranged, having no prospects in the navy, he obtained command of a merchant ship bound to the West Indies. During his absence the war with France began, and on his homeward voyage he was captured by a French privateer and carried into L'Orient. He was, however, fortunate enough to win the good will of his captor, who found an opportunity to let him escape on board a Dutch timber ship then in the port. On his return to England, he is said to have been appointed to the Diadem frigate; but he does not seem to have joined her; he was certainly not entered on the ship's books [Pay-Book of the Diadem]. He accepted the command of a small privateer, and continued in her till the peace of 1801, ‘during which time he is said to have made more voyages, fought more actions, and captured more prizes than ever before were effected in the same time by any private ship.’ When the war broke out again, Goodall fitted out a small privateer of 10 guns and forty men, in which, on 25 July 1803, he fell in with, and after a stubborn defence was captured by, La Caroline, a large privateer, and again carried into L'Orient. He and his men were sent on to Rennes, and thence to Espinal; from which place he made his escape, in company with one of his officers. After many hardships and adventures they reached the Rhine, succeeded in crossing it, and so making their way to Berlin, whence they were sent on to England.

On the beginning of the war with Spain Goodall again obtained command of a privateer, and in her captured a treasure-ship from Vera Cruz. He afterwards touched at St. Domingo, and having made some acquaintance with Christophe, one of two rival black presidents, he was induced to put his ship and his own services at the disposal of Christophe in the civil war that was raging between the two. His assistance seems to have turned the scale definitely in Christophe's favour; but Goodall was considered by the governor of Jamaica to have acted improperly, and was therefore sent home in 1808. On his arrival he was released, and shortly after returned to Hayti; coming home again in 1810 and again in 1812. He is said to have remitted to his agent in England—an attorney named Fletcher—very large sums of money, to the amount of 120,000l. The amount was probably exaggerated, but that he had remitted considerable sums seems established. He now, however, found himself a bankrupt by the chicanery of Fletcher, who had not only robbed him of his fortune but also of his wife, who, although the mother of eight children by Goodall, six of whom were living, had become Fletcher's mistress. It was deposed on the trial that during her husband's imprisonment and absence from home Mrs. Goodall had supported her family by her theatrical profession; but there was no whisper of any misconduct or even levity on her part, till she yielded to the seductions of Fletcher; and the jury before whom the case was tried, taking this view of the matter, awarded the injured husband 5,000l. damages.

Of Goodall, nothing further is known; but as his name does not occur in the later history of Hayti (Limonade, Relation des événements, &c.), it would seem probable that he lived in privacy till his death, which is said to have taken place in 1832 (Evans, Catalogue of Engraved Portraits, 1836).

[European Mag. (May 1808), liii. 323. This biographical sketch would appear to have been furnished by Goodall himself, and is therefore liable to suspicion of exaggerating a romantic career: so far as they go, it is corroborated by the pay-books of the Triton and the Nemesis, now in the Public Record Office. General Evening Post, 23 April, 14 May 1808; Report of the Trial between Thomas Goodall (Plaintiff) and William Fletcher (Defendant), 1813, 8vo.]

J. K. L.