Goodsonn, William (DNB00)

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GOODSONN, WILLIAM (fl. 1634–1662), vice-admiral in the state's navy, and formerly shipowner, seems to have been originally of Yarmouth (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 6 Oct. 1654), where others of the name and of the same business were settled (ib. 28 Jan. 1631–2). About 1634, he says in a letter to Thurloe (24 Jan. 1655–6; Thurloe, iv. 451), he lived for some time at Cartagena, on the Spanish Main, not, however, long enough to acquire a perfect knowledge of the language (ib. v. 151). It may possibly have been then, or in other voyages, that he gained the familiarity, which he certainly had in later life, with the Spanish settlements, both in the islands and on the mainland. He describes himself as having entered the service of the state in 1649 (ib. iv. 458), but it is doubtful in what capacity. In 1650 he entered into a contract with the government for the hire of his ship, the Hopeful Luke of London, and in October 1651 was petitioning for a license to transport shoes to Barbadoes (Cal. State Papers, Dom. pp. 500, 504). His first direct connection with the navy seems to have been on 25 Jan. 1652–3, when he was appointed captain of the Entrance, in which he took part in the great fight off Portland on 18 Feb. On 24 March he was moved into the Rainbow, in which he served as rear-admiral of the blue squadron in the battles of 2–3 June and 29–31 July, for which, with the other flag-officers, he received a gold chain and medal. He is spoken of [see Blake, Robert] during the winter as commanding the Unicorn (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 12 Nov.) and afterwards the George (ib. 18 Nov.), under Monck, and during the summer of 1654 as vice-admiral of the blue squadron under Penn (ib. 3, 19 July), combining with that employment the more lucrative business of contractor for the supply of clothes to the seamen (ib. 1 Oct. 1654). Towards the end of the year he was appointed to the Paragon, as vice-admiral of the squadron to be sent to the West Indies under the command of General Penn [see Penn, Sir William], and by order of 7 Dec. was associated with him as commissioner, so that in case of Penn's death he might be capable of acting fully as commander-in-chief (Thurloe, iii. 11). While at Barbadoes, on 19 March 1654–5, Penn ordered the formation of ‘a regiment of seamen,’ or, as it would now be called, a naval brigade, for service on shore, with Goodsonn as its colonel, and Benjamin Blake, Robert Blake's brother, as lieutenant-colonel (Penn, ii. 74). On 13 April Goodsonn and his ‘sea-regiment’ were landed on Hispaniola with the rest of the army [see Venables, Robert], and, on the failure of the attempt to reduce that island, were re-embarked on 3 May. The expedition went on to Jamaica, where Goodsonn was again landed on 11 May. On the 17th the capitulation was signed; and it being determined that Penn with the larger ships should return to England, Goodsonn was constituted admiral and commander-in-chief of the squadron left behind (21 June), with orders to ‘wear the jack-flag at the main-top-mast head.’ The Paragon being one of the ships selected to go home with Penn, Goodsonn hoisted his flag on board the Torrington, and on 31 July put to sea with the squadron, and, standing over to the mainland, took, sacked, and burned Santa Marta (Thurloe, iv. 159); but, finding his force insufficient to attempt Cartagena, returned to Jamaica by the beginning of November ‘to refit and consider of some other design.’ During the winter both the army on shore and the ships' companies suffered much from sickness (ib. iv. 451). By April, however, he was able to sail for another cruise, and, making almost exactly the same round as before, sacked and burned the town at the Rio de la Hacha, watered at Santa Marta, again anchored for a day off Cartagena, and so returned to Jamaica by the end of May. It was then that, for mutinous and irregular conduct, he had determined to bring Captain Benjamin Blake to a court-martial; but, on Blake desiring to lay down his commission, Goodsonn permitted him to do so, ‘partly,’ as he wrote to Thurloe, ‘in my respect to the general his brother, and also to testify the integrity of my heart in being free from passion.’ The charges against Blake he sent home sealed, with instructions that they were not to be opened till they were delivered to Thurloe, and requested that then they might not be produced, unless ‘he appear maliciously active in vindicating himself to deprave our proceeding’ (ib. v. 154; cf. Blake, Robert). In August several of the ships, including the Torrington, were found not fit to remain out any longer, and were sent home, Goodsonn hoisting his flag in the Marston Moor, from which in the following January he moved into the Mathias and sailed for England, where he arrived on 18 April 1657, being then in very bad health. During the summer and autumn of 1657 Goodsonn commanded a squadron in the Downs or off Mardyk, and in 1658 off Dunkirk, co-operating with the besieging army. In the autumn, with his flag in the Swiftsure, he was vice-admiral in the fleet under Sir George Ayscue [q. v.], which attempted to pass the Sound, but, being unable to do so by reason of the lateness of the season and foul weather, he returned with the fleet, Ayscue remaining in Sweden. In the following year he was again in the fleet ordered to the Sound under General Mountagu [see Mountagu, Edward, first Earl of Sandwich], and seems to have continued with Mountagu till the scheme for the restoration of the monarchy began to take form. From that time nothing more is heard of him in a public capacity, though mention is made of him nearly three years afterwards as suspected, on no apparent grounds, of complicity in a plot to kill the king (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 15 Dec. 1662). By a reference to him in a brother puritan's will he seems to have been still alive in 1680 (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ix. 138). From the connection with Penn it appears not improbable that the John Goodson (Appleton, Cyclopædia of American Biography), ‘the first English physician that came to Pennsylvania under Penn's charter, and among the first that bought lands in the province of the “Free Society of Traders,”’ may have been William Goodsonn's son; but we know nothing certainly of Goodsonn's family or private life, except that his wife's name was Mary, and that advances on her husband's pay were made to her during his absence at Jamaica (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 15 Oct. 1655, 17 June, 21 Aug. 1656; Thurloe, iv. 458).

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650–2; Thurloe's State Papers; Lediard's Naval History; Granville Penn's Memorials of Sir William Penn.]

J. K. L.