Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Goodman (1821–1908)

by James Grant

This article was published:

George Goodman (1821-1908), Anglican clergyman, was born on 17 May 1821 at Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England, the third son of Thomas Goodman, merchant, and his wife Mary, née Dent. He was educated at Kings Cliffe, at Hazelwood School, Edgbaston, and at Camberwell. After two years of commercial experience he entered Christ's College, Cambridge (B.A., 1844; M.A., 1847). He was ordained deacon on 2 March 1845 by the bishop of Chester, J. B. Sumner, on a title to Holy Trinity, Birkenhead, and priest in 1846. Later that year he moved to London as assistant curate at St Bride's, Fleet Street.

In May 1853 Goodman heard the former archdeacon of Melbourne, Thomas Hart Davies, speak on Bishop Charles Perry's desperate need for clergy and later that year he sailed for Melbourne, arriving in December. Perry immediately appointed him his examining chaplain and in January 1855, after a year at Heidelberg, vicar of Christ Church, Geelong. In 1877 Bishop James Moorhouse appointed him first rural dean of Geelong and in 1879 he was elected by the Church Assembly a canon of the proposed St Paul's Cathedral. As examining chaplain to Perry and his successors for fifty years and lecturer in homiletics and exegesis in the theological faculty of Trinity College, Melbourne, in 1879-99, Goodman's influence on the clergy of Victoria was lasting and pervasive.

At Geelong Goodman was active in philanthropic and educational activities. He was a member of the hospital committee, president of the Mechanics' Institute and Mrs Austin's adviser in establishing cottage homes for the elderly. Both he and his wife gave evidence to the royal commission on charitable institutions in 1891-93. He had inherited a parochial school which survived until 1879 but his main educational interest centred on Geelong Grammar School which was built opposite Christ Church in 1858. He became secretary of the school council in 1863, the boys worshipped in his church, and successive headmasters, John Bracebridge Wilson and L. H. Lindon, served as churchwardens throughout his ministry. Goodman's scholarship was reflected in his preaching and teaching. Both in England and Victoria he contributed articles and reviews on biblical and historical topics to literary and religious journals. In 1865 he published the Principles and Practice of Public Reading, a manual which incorporated his own preaching techniques. His magnum opus was The Church in Victoria During the Episcopate of the Right Reverend Charles Perry, First Bishop of Melbourne (1892). In an introductory note the bishop declared that Goodman was qualified 'by his general ability, by his agreement with me in religious principles and by his experience in the diocese' to accomplish the work satisfactorily. The memoir, published at Perry's expense, displays Goodman's sensitive understanding of Perry as man and bishop.

His evangelical preaching was Biblical rather than popular and his outlook on religion and life was conservative. Although offered preferment he was content to minister faithfully in his familiar sphere and consistently declined to leave Geelong, until he retired in September 1906. On 1 July 1853 he had married Margaret Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Powlett Mortlock, bookseller of Stamford. She had been governess to the marquess of Normanby and a worker at St Bride's, London; she died on 26 September 1901. Goodman died on 25 June 1908, survived by two daughters of their six children.

Select Bibliography

  • W. R. Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay (Melb, 1955)
  • L. L. Nash, Forward Flows the Time: The Story of Ridley College (Melb, 1960)
  • Geelong Advertiser, 26 June 1908.

Citation details

James Grant, 'Goodman, George (1821–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 May, 1821
Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England


25 June, 1908 (aged 87)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.