Ernest Robert Goodwin


This biography was written by Victoria Doran.

Ernest Goodwin was one of the married men to die. He had two surviving children and seemed settled in West Kirby as an insurance agent, but he volunteered early in the war.

Dale Farm jpg.jpg

Dale Farm, Heswall where Ernest spent the final part of his childhood from ‘Dale Farm Heswall’ on Facebook

Ernest was the 6th child of the 5 sons and 3 daughters of John Goodwin (1844-1923) and Ann Thompson (1848-1928). He had one younger brother and sister. He was born towards the end of 1886 in Upton, Wirral and baptised on Boxing Day in the parish of Overchurch. This would be the church now known as St Mary, Upton.

St Mary Upton jpg.jpg

St Mary, Upton from Wirral in Old Photographs Facebook Group

On his mother’s side the family goes back many generations in north west Wirral, mainly in Greasby and West Kirby. Ann’s parents were Alexander Thompson (1820-1898) and Susannah Briscoe (1819-1900). Susannah’s father Samuel Briscoe (1786-1846) was the shoemaker in Greasby. Alexander Thompson was born in County Mayo, Ireland but came to England as a young man, being an apprentice to Samuel Briscoe in 1841. He moved to Liverpool at the end of his apprenticeship, marrying Susannah at St Nicholas on 23 October 1842. They then returned to Greasby, where he took over as the village shoemaker after the death of his father in law in 1848.  Susannah’s mother, Molly (or Mary) Sherlock was the daughter of Richard Sherlock, a husbandman in Greasby and his wife Elizabeth. It is probable that Ernest was distantly related to Harold Sherlock.

Ernest’s father came from Rainow, near Macclesfield, Cheshire. Both of Ernest’s paternal grandparents, Abraham and Mary Goodwin came from Staffordshire, but in reality they never moved far, just crossing nearby county boundaries. Like his father John Goodwin worked at several different jobs. All they had in common was that they were basically always labouring in one form or another.

On 5 August 1873 John Goodwin married Ann Thompson at St Peter, Prestbury, Cheshire.

John Goodwin - Ann Thompson marriage jpg.jpg

What Ann Thompson was doing in Hurdsfield (near Macclesfield at the opposite end of Cheshire) is unknown.

Their first child, Susannah, was born in Greasby in 1874, but they moved to Burbage, Derbyshire for the birth of their second child, John Henry about 1876. By the birth of the third, Walter, on 11 May 1879 the family was back in north Wirral living in Upton.

A year later John Goodwin tried his hand as a trimmer on the City of Berlin, sailing out of Liverpool. Clearly this did not suit, because by the 1881 census the family was back in Greasby and he was an engine fitter at a ‘works’. They moved back to Upton in time for Ernest’s birth at the end of 1886. In 1891 they were living at Garfield Terrace, Upton, and John was a bricksetter’s labourer.

They moved again to Dale Farm, Heswall by 1901. Ernest was still at school and his father was a general labourer.

Early in 1909 Ernest married Jane (Jennie) Hughes (1888-1956) in West Kirby. In 1911 they were living in Acacia Grove with their daughter Susannah, aged 2 years, his parents and his two youngest siblings. Ernest was working as an insurance agent.

Jane Hughes came from Anglesey, Wales but nothing more is known about her.

Ernest probably did better at school than most of his siblings to have landed a white collar job, despite it being likely that he changed school several times in his childhood as the family moved about. Three of his brothers, Walter, Alexander and Ralph all emigrated to North America before 1911, but all remained in blue collar employment. His sister Susannah and her husband disappear after their marriage in West Kirby in 1904, and his eldest brother John Henry disappears after 1901. So possibly they both emigrated as well.

Clearly Ernest must have given some consideration to emigration, but decided that England held sufficient opportunity for him.

It is not known when Ernest enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment as his military record has not survived. It was almost certainly after 6 November 1914 as his name does not appear in the list in the Deeside Advertiser of that date. He became a Private with number W/900.

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Cheshire Regiment cap badge

From his medal card we know he arrived in France on 25 September 1915.

The next certain fact is that he died on 20 April 1918 at Zonnebeke, Belgium. He was serving with the 11th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His body was not recovered as he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

It is probable that Ernest served all his time in the 11th Battalion as they first landed in France on the same day that he did.

No specific battle was taking place on the day Ernest died, but he will have been fighting during  the Battle of the Lys in Flanders, part of the German Spring Offensive of 1918.

He was 31 years old and left a wife and 2 daughters. His only son, John, had died at the age of 4 years  shortly before he landed in France. His younger daughter, Dorothy, was born in 1913.

In 1920 his widow, Jane, was remarried to George Edward Tuffley (1893-1970) who had served as a Royal Navy stoker from 1912 to 1921.

Ernest’s younger brother, Albert (1889-1968) enlisted on 18 December 1915 in the Army Service Corps Motor Transport Section. He landed in France just one month later as a lorry driver, and served until 1919.

The older two brothers who are known to have emigrated were in the USA during the war. In 1918 Walter was a ship’s carpenter and Ralph was a carpenter on an Army Supply Base, so they were both probably involved in the war effort.

Alexander attested on 29 December 1917 for the Canadian Army. It is not known whether he ever left Canada.

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Tyne Cot Memorial, West Flanders, Belgium

Birth: Dec 1896 at Upton, Wirral, Cheshire
Death: 20 Apr 1918 killed in action at Zonnebeke, Flanders, Belgium; age 31
Addresses: 66 Garfield Terrace, Upton, Wirral, Cheshire (91); Dale Farm, Heswall, Cheshire (01); 9 Acacia Grove, West Kirby (11)
Occupation: insurance agent
Unit: 11th Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Rank and number : Private; W/900
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated: Tyne Cot Memorial, West Flanders, Belgium; GH, WK,
Sources: CWGC, MC, BR, PR, Census: 91, 01, 11, Liverpool Crew Lists, DA


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